Hugh Downs, longtime TV personality, dead at 99
Hugh Downs, the avuncular, versatile TV personality, whose career stretched back to the birth of television, died at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Wednesday. He was 99.
Downs’ long TV résumé encompassed both news and entertainment. He hosted NBC’s “Today” show from 1962 to 1971, was late-night host Jack Paar’s longtime announcer/sidekick on “The Tonight Show,” appeared in dozens of commercials and even hosted the daytime quiz show “Concentration” for over a decade.
Downs was perhaps best known as the co-host of ABC’s newsmagazine “20/20,” teaming with Barbara Walters, with whom he’d worked at “Today.” They also co-hosted the short-lived syndicated daytime show “Not for Women Only.”
His TV career began in 1950 as an announcer for the NBC soap “Hawkins Falls” and never seemed to stop until he retired in 1999.
In 1985, Downs was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as holding the record for the most hours on network commercial television (over 15,000) — a record that stood until it was broken by Regis Philbin in 2004.
His wife, Ruth Shaheen Downs, died in 2017 at the age of 95. They were married for 73 years.
Downs is survived by his daughter, Deirdre; his son, Hugh R. “H.R.” Downs; two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
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