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THE TOP 30 GAME SHOW HOSTS OF ALL TIME 

 
#30 BERT CONVY
(Tattletales, Super Password, Win Lose or Draw)

Bert Convy sadly passed on in 1991 from brain cancer, but his white afro and great rapport with his celebrity guests made him a 70s and 80s game show host favorite. Convy's early career was remarkably varied, acting in the original Broadway run of Cabaret, and was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies minor league team. Convy is also featured in the '80s classic, The Cannonball Run.  CLICK HERE to watch a really cool moment where Bert acknowledges announcer Gene Wood's birthday, complete with Nipsey Russell and Pat Sajak!


#29 JIM PERRY
($ale of the Century, Card Sharks)

Jim Perry once worked with comedy legend Sid Ceaser before becoming the host of the well loved "Card Sharks". Jim also hosted the Miss Canada pageant from 1967-1990, until they ran out of good looking women.  CLICK HERE to see a very exciting clip of Jim hosting Card Sharks with a special father/son contestant duo who risks a lot of big money to go all the way.


#28 BEN STEIN
(Win Ben Stein's Money)

Ben Stein, famous for his dour monotone roll calling in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, was a pretty damn good game show host in his own right. What many folks don't know is that early in his career, Stein was actually a speechwriter for Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.  CLICK HERE to see a clip of Ben in action.


#27 RAY COMBS
(Family Feud, Family Challenge)

Ray Combs had the unenviable task of taking over "The Family Feud" from Richard Dawson. Sure, it's hard to measure up to a legend like that, but one really appreciates the great work Combs did when you see how easily Richard Karn and Louie Anderson fucked the show up. Rest in peace, Ray!  CLICK HERE to see a clip of Ray hosting the feud with a charming family of Samoans.


#26 PETER MARSHALL
(Hollywood Squares, All Star Blitz, Yahtzee!)

I wonder how much cooler longtime Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall would have been, had he used his birth name, "Pierre Lacock!" How could you have a moniker that badass and not use it?  Here's a sweet clip from paullynde.info featuring Peter and the recently departed Dennis Weaver.


#25 KEN OBER
(Remote Control)

Though MTV's "Remote Control" was a parody of game shows, Ken Ober did a great job harnessing the chaos with regulars like Colin Quinn and a very young Adam Sandler on the set. The back-story that Ober watched too many game shows as a kid and wanted to grow up to host his own show, in his own basement.  Here's the into to the show, featuring his story.


#24 REGIS PHILBIN
(Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?)

As much as I can't stand the guy's talk show, Regis' work on "Millionaire" was perfect, with his smarmy attitude and great catch phrases like "Is that Your Final Answer?" When Meredith Vierra took the show over, it was like a small part of me died. CLICK HERE to watch a clip featuring the first USA million dollar winner take it all, with an all time classic cocky ending.


#23 JIM LANGE
(The Dating Game, Bullseye, $100,000 Name That Tune)

Though he hosted a few other shows, it's Jim's work on the cheesy Chuck Barris produced "The Dating Game" that he's most loved for.  And lest you think the goofy Lange was incapable of getting a good date himself, his wife, Nancy Fleming, was 1961's Miss America.


#22 PETER TOMARKEN
(Press Your Luck, Bargain Hunters, Wipe-Out)

Peter was the classic suave 80s game show host.  Sadly, both he and his wife passed away in March of 2006 when their plane crashed into Santa Monica Bay. Peter's best known for his work on "Press Your Luck", and for a great read, check out THIS SITE which retells the story of contestant Michael Larsen, who studied the "random" board patterns and won over $100,000 in the process.


#21 TOM BERGERON
(Hollywood Squares)

I always liked Tom's hosting of Hollywood Squares even more than Peter Marshall.  Just seems like a genuinely funny guy. CLICK HERE to see an outstanding clip in which the producers put two phony contestants on to screw with Tom as an April Fool's Day prank.  Especially his quip, "Suddenly turning down the job on card sharks doesn't seem like such a good idea!"


#20 TOM KENNEDY

(You Don't Say, Super Password, Name That Tune)

Of all the "Name That Tune" hosts, Tom was the best.  He also hosted a short lived nighttime version of "The Price is Right."  His brother, Jack Narz, was also a longtime game show host.  Tom's currently 79 years old and is enjoying a nice retirement.


#19 JEFF PROBST
(Survivor, Rock and Roll Jeopardy)

Jeff's a great host for the reality game show "Survivor", because he has no qualms belittling the players that are so stupid they need a smack upside their head.  His rugged good looks make him seem right at home with the contestants, so he's not just some pretty face that wouldn't last a night in the wild, himself.  Like thousands of others who've paid $5 through a tabloid ad, Probst is an ordained Universal Life Church minister. 


#18 ALLEN LUDDEN
(GE College Bowl, Password, The Liar's Club)

Though he's most famous for the "Password" shows, I always loved watching Ludden host the late '70s version of "The Liar's Club" where folks like Fred Willard, Betty White, and James Doohan would make up stories about weird objects.  Ludden was married to Betty White from 1963-1981 before his death, and his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is right next to hers. FUN FACT: Rod Serling hosted The Liar's Club when it first debuted in 1969.


#17 TAKESHI KAGA
(Iron Chef)

As Chairman Kaga on the original Japanese "Iron Chef", Kaga was certainly one of the most flamboyantly cool game show hosts of all time.  The picture of him biting a pepper is still one of my favorites.  Kaga has been acting since the early '70s, and continues to do so as he approaches his 60th year.


#16 ANNE ROBINSON
(The Weakest Link)

Dominating, intimidating, and I'll admit...strangely sexy, Anne Robinson is the lone female game show host on our list.  In an industry that's about 99% male, I suppose that's to be expected.  Anne still hosts the UK version of the show, but sadly her run on the USA version stopped a couple years after it started.  Watching her scold Wil Wheaton on a special Star Trek themed version of "The Weakest Link" is one of my favorite moments.  The show has been or is still on in over 80 different countries, though I'll admit that I first thought the Japanese version of the show was about ice skating.  CLICK HERE to watch a clip of the UK show with Anne in rare form on a special comedian themed episode.


#15 JACK BARRY
(Twenty-One, The Joker's Wild)

Jack was one of the pioneers in game show history, and was the host of the infamous "Twenty-One" which was embroiled in scandal after it was learned that they were feeding answers to a particularly photogenic contestant, Charles Van Doren.  Barry later appeared on the insanely popular slot machine themed "The Joker's Wild".  Jack also hosted the innovative "Winky Dink And You" in the early 50s, which featured cartoons that kids could interact with by drawing pictures on their TV with protective sheets of paper (or not).  CLICK HERE to watch a neat clip featuring the shortest Joker's Wild round ever.


#14 CLIVE ANDERSON
(Who's Line Is It Anyway?)

Though it's really just an improv show at heart, the game show style of "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" is so fun, and Anderson was so great, to leave him off would be a shame.  Though Drew Carey did an admirable job on the USA version, he's certainly no Clive. A longtime comedian and interviewer, Clive once got The Bee Gees so pissed off during a TV interview that they walked off the set.  CLICK HERE to see a clip of Clive doing his thing.


#13 PAT SAJAK
(Wheel of Fortune)

Pat impressed Merv Griffin while working as a weatherman, so he was picked up to replace Chuck Woolery who was asking for too much money for Merv to continue with him as the host of "Wheel of Fortune."  Pat's been hosting the show since 1981 (and Vanna has been at his side since 1982).  Pat's about the nicest and funniest game show hosts in the business.  Pat had the unenviable task of hosting a late night talk show that competed directly against Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show".  Though many talk about what a failure it was, it aired for a year and a half, which is much longer than other folks' attempts to do the same.  CLICK HERE to visit Pat's official site.  CLICK HERE to watch a clip of a guy totally blowing an obvious puzzle by adding extra words to it.  And here's PAT THE STUD kissing Vanna on his last daytime appearance.


#12 GUY SMILEY
(Letter of the Day, Name That Sound)

Guy Smiley, the self proclaimed "America's Greatest Game Show Host", hasn't worked too much since his producer Jim Henson passed away in 1990, but he'll always be a favorite, hosting more different shows than anyone on this list.  CLICK HERE to see how Guy handles contestant Grover Monster.


#11 BOB EUBANKS
(The Newlywed Game)

Of all the "couple" type game shows host, Bob Eubanks was the best.  How he kept any type of composure with some of the idiotic, racy, or just outrageous contestants on this show night after night is a mystery to me.  Just CLICK HERE and watch this clip on YouTube and see for yourself, in which a contestant answers "Up The Butt" to "What's the weirdest place you've ever had the urge to make whoopee?"  Or THIS GEM where he talks to a total brain dead contestant who doesn't seem to know what "urban" means.


#10 DON FRANCISCO
(Sabado Gigante)

The Spanish language "Sabado Gigante" is one of the longest running game shows in history, with a brand new episode produced every week since it's 1962 debut in Chile!  Sure, it's half variety show, too, but it's my opinion that game shows could use more scantily clad Mexican women shaking their asses to flamenco guitar, anyway.  According to his Wikipedia entry, Francisco has given away over 3,000 cars and over $50 million dollars.  Take that, Oprah!


#9 GROUCHO MARX
(You Bet Your Life)

Groucho was perhaps the most famous man to then take a job hosting a game show.  And what a great show it was.  Couples would get on the show and would win $1500 if they said the secret word that a duck revealed at the beginning of the show.  Perfectly absurd, and an awesome showcase for Groucho to make snide comments through the entire broadcast. CLICK HERE to see the opening of Groucho's show.


#8 CHUCK BARRIS
(The Gong Show)

Barris was a complete bozo, and the absolute best possible choice to host his own classic "The Gong Show."  Long before people laughed at William Hung butcher "She Bangs" on "American Idol", Chucky Baby was showcasing awful talent each episode.  Here's a bunch of great Youtube clips of Chuck doing this thing.

Introducing The Unknown Comic
Introducing Gene Gene The Dancing Machine
7 minutes of great Chuck Barris highlights


#7 BILL CULLEN
(The Price Is Right, Hot Potato, The $25,000 Pyramid)

According to the Bill Cullen Homepage, Bill's presence on over 30 different TV series make him the true Iron-Man of game show history. Bill was the original host of "The Price is Right", and was the well known Pyramid host before Dick Clark took over the hosting responsibilities. CLICK HERE to see a fun clip of Bill interviewing some train engineers on his show, "Hot Potato."


#6 WINK MARTINDALE
(Gambit, Tic Tac Dough, Debt)

Just this June, Wink received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  I loved Wink's work on Tic Tac Dough, and watched it religiously to see those cool Apple computer animated dragons do their thing.  Wink was a disc jockey during the early days of rock and roll, and even appeared as a tyrannical leader shouting "NO ROCK AND ROLL" in the Quiet Riot video "The Wild and The Free". CLICK HERE to see a great vintage clip of Wink interviewing Elvis back in 1956.



#5 ALEX TREBEK
(Jeopardy!, Classic Concentration, High Rollers)

Alex is one of those game show hosts that definitely seems smart enough to know all the answers to the questions he's asking.  Though "Jeopardy!" was original host Art Fleming's show for 11 years, Trebek has hosted the brainy quiz show for more than twice that time. I sure wish he'd grow his fabulous mustache back, which has been missing since 2001. Will Ferrell further championed the Trebek mystique with brilliantly funny celebrity Jeopardy skits in which he'd usually square off with a half-crazy Sean Connery (played by Darrel Hammond). CLICK HERE for a hilarious clip of the finale of his '70s dice rolling show "High Rollers" in which Trebek seems to be a bit high himself.


#4 MONTY HALL
(Let's Make a Deal, Beat The Clock, Split Second)

First of all, why the hell hasn't anyone made a modern version of "Let's Make a Deal"?  I'm not talking about the bullshit gimmicky "Deal or No Deal" hosted by Howie Mandell, but a full out everyone in the crowd dresses like an idiot and has purses full of everything imaginable just in case the host was going to give them $100 for it.  Monty's reign as host of the real "Deal" lasted off an on for nearly 18 years.  And not too many game show hosts became nicknames for bad Dungeons and Dragons players.  You can CLICK HERE for a very cool and thorough "Let's Make A Deal" website.



#3 RICHARD DAWSON
(Family Feud)

It's estimated that Richard Dawson kissed over 5,000 ladies while hosting "The Family Feud" for nearly 10 years.  His interesting mix of British Flair and down home southern charm helped make The Feud the most popular game show on TV, surpassing even "The Match Game" which he was a frequent and popular panelist on.  Dawson was also able to portray an evil parody of himself as the host in The Running Man.

Richard Loses it when a contestant gives a dumb answer
Richard Dawson on the original pilot
More silly answers from The Feud


#2 BOB BARKER
(Truth or Consequences, The Price is Right)

Bob Barker is the Cal Ripken of game show hosts, with over 35 years of hosting "The Price is Right" under his belt.  Frankly, the show always pissed me off because the prices for the items contestants tried to guess always seemed to be from some store in Crazy Town.  But Bob's appearance in Happy Gilmore where he punches out Adam Sandler after he proclaims, "The Price is WRONG, bitch!" is probably one of the most hilarious cameo appearances in film history.  When Barker kicked Sandler in the face, he was living out every American's fantasy.


#1 GENE RAYBURN
(The Match Game)

I can't explain why Gene Rayburn was so cool.  I remember my grandmother hated him, exclaiming "He looks like a damn chimp!"  But Rayburn had that perfect mix of goofy charm and double entendre that made him the greatest game show host of all time.  The original announcer for "The Tonight Show" in the '50s, Gene spent time on the radio and various other projects before his immortal stint on "The Match Game".  His ability to bring out the best of his celebrity panelists and contestants alike helped make it the highest rated game show of its time. You always felt like Gene and the gang were having a blast during each show.  And you gotta love that kickass needle thin microphone he used. Rest in piece Gene, you'll always be missed!

Here's a bunch of clips from YouTube that celebrate what a wonderful and hilarious man he was. 

Gene makes a great mistake introducing a contestant
Gene asks to see Fannie Flagg's "bazooms"
A hot '70s babe flirts with Gene
Gene spars with Charles Nelson Reilly

Thanks for tuning in!  Promotional consideration was made by Turtle Wax, Rice-A-Roni, and Botany 500.

-Robert Berry
rberry@retrocrush.com