Hugh Malcolm Downs (born February 14, 1921) is a long-time American broadcaster, television host, news anchor, TV producer, author, game show host, and music composer. He is perhaps best known for his role as co-host of the NBC News program Today from 1962 to 1971, host of the Concentration game show from 1958 to 1969, and anchor of the ABC News magazine 20/20 from 1978 to 1999. In addition, he's served as announcer/sidekick for Tonight Starring Jack Paar, host of the PBS talk show Over Easy, and co-host of the syndicated talk show Not for Women Only.
Hugh Downs was born on St. Valentine's Day in the year 1921 in Akron, Ohio, to Milton Howard and Edith H. Downs. He was educated at Lima Shawnee High School in Lima, Ohio; Bluffton College, a Mennonite school in Bluffton, Ohio; and Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, during the period 1938 to 1941. He worked as a radio announcer and program director at WLOK inLima, Ohio, after his first year of college. In 1940 he moved on to WWJ in Detroit. Downs served briefly in the U.S. Army in 1943 and then joined the NBC radio network at WMAQ as an announcer in Chicago, Illinois, where he lived until 1954. He married a coworker, Ruth Shaheen in 1944. He also attended Columbia University in New York City during 1955–56.132152156
Downs and daughter, Deirdre, 1960.
Downs made his first television news broadcast in September 1945 from the still experimental studio of WBKB-TV (now WBBM-TV), a station then owned by the Balaban and Katz theater subsidiary of Paramount Pictures. He became a TV regular, announcing forHawkins Falls in 1950, the first successful television soap opera, which was sponsored by Lever Brothers Surf detergent. He also announced the Burr Tillstrom children's show Kukla, Fran and Ollie from the NBC studios at Chicago's Merchandise Mart after the network picked up the program from WBKB. In March 1954, Downs moved to New York to accept a position as announcer for Pat Weaver's The Home Show starringArlene Francis. That program lasted until August 1957. He was the announcer for Sid Caesar's Caesar's Hour for the 1956–57 season, and one of NBC Radio's Monitor "Communicators" from 1955-1959. Downs became a bona fide television "personality" as Jack Paar's announcer onThe Tonight Show from July 1957 until Paar's departure in March 1962, and then continued to announce for "The Tonight Show" until the fall of 1962, when Ed Herlihy took the announcing reins. Herlihy held that post until October 1, 1962, when Johnny Carson took over the show, and brought Ed McMahon as his announcer. On August 25, 1958, he concurrently began a more than ten-year run hosting the original version of the game show Concentration. Also, he hosted NBC's Today Show for nine years from September 1962 to October 1971, plus he co-hosted the syndicated television program Not for Women Only with Barbara Walters in 1975 and 1976.
Downs also appeared as a panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth and in an episode, cast as himself, on the NBC police sitcom, Car 54, Where Are You?, set in New York City.
Downs earned a postgraduate degree in gerontology from Hunter College while he was hosting Over Easy, a PBS television program about aging that aired from 1977 to 1983.
He was probably best known in later years as the Emmy Award-winning co-anchor (again paired with Walters) of the ABC news TV show 20/20, a primetime news magazine program, from the show's second episode in 1978 until his forced retirement in 1999. His closing tagline "We're in touch, so you be in touch", was written by Brock Brower.
In 1985, he was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as holding the record for the greatest number of hours on network commercial television (15,188 hours), though he lost the record for most hours on all forms of television to Regis Philbin in 2004.
A published composer himself, Downs hosted the PBS showcase for classical music, Live from Lincoln Center from 1990 to 1996.
Downs made a cameo appearance on Family Guy in addition to other TV shows.
Downs can currently be seen in infomercials for Bottom Line Publications, including their World's Greatest Treasury of Health Secrets, as well as another one for a personal coach. He did an infomercial for Where There's a Will There's an A in 2003. His infomercial work since then has aroused some controversy, with many arguing the products are scams. As of the summer of 2008, Downs can also be seen in regional public service announcements in Arizona, where he currently lives, for that state's Motor Vehicles Division, as well as in many public, short-form programs in which he serves as host of educational interstitials.
On October 13, 2007, Downs was one of the first inductees into the American TV Game Show Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, Nevada.