Legendary newsman Hugh Downs dies at 99

NEW YORK – Hugh Downs, the genial, adaptable broadcaster who became a single of television’s most acquainted and welcome faces with extra than fifteen,000 hrs on information, match and talk exhibits, has died at age ninety nine.

Downs died of organic results in at his dwelling in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Wednesday, explained his terrific-niece, Molly Shaheen.

“The Guinness Guide of Planet Records” recognized Downs as having logged extra hrs in entrance of the camera than any television persona right until Regis Philbin passed him in 2004.

He labored on NBC’s “Today” and “Tonight” exhibits, the match present “Concentration,” co-hosted the ABC journal present “20/20” with Barbara Walters and the PBS series “Over Easy” and “Live From Lincoln Center.”

His signature indicator-off at the end of “20/20” told viewers: “We’re in touch, so you be in touch.”

“I’ve labored on so several various exhibits and accomplished so several exhibits at the very same time,” Downs explained in a 1986 Affiliated Press interview. “I the moment explained I’d accomplished almost everything on radio and television except engage in-by-engage in athletics. Then I remembered I’d coated a boxing match in Lima, Ohio, in 1939.”

Downs began his broadcasting job at the age of eighteen as a $twelve-a-7 days announcer on a modest Ohio radio station. When television arrived alongside, he at initially seemed on it as a gimmick, but immediately understood “it was possibly a juggernaut, and I’d improved be in on it.”

He was an announcer in Chicago, which was a television incubator in the 1950, for “Kukla, Fran & Ollie” and “Hawkins Falls,” which he explained was television’s initially cleaning soap opera. In 1954, he went to New York for “The House Clearly show.”

In 1961, Newsweek explained him as “a gluttonous reader with a initially-amount brain that he keeps curried and exercised like a prize poodle.”

His status was these kinds of that he even won the proper to approve any business he was assigned to read through, striving to retain doubtful promises off the air.

“My loyalty was with the individual tuning in,” he explained. “It was expedient. If I missing my reliability, what use would I be to a consumer?”

He confirmed his principled aspect all over again in 1997, when he took a trip day on “20/20″ rather than be part on a present that bundled an interview with Marv Albert soon after the sportscaster was caught in a lurid sexual assault scandal.

On Twitter Thursday, CBS News political correspondent Ed O’Keefe noted: “He retired from ‘20/20’ in 1999 and died at age ninety nine in the yr 2020. Sweet symmetry. Rest simple, Hugh Downs. One particular of the most effective.”

Downs had a certain curiosity in science, the moment launching into a monologue on the Paar present on the science fundamental drinking water-snowboarding. It prompted Paar to quip, “Well, Hugh, when you drown, you will know the rationale why.”

His curiosity in issues of the growing old — he even acquired a postgraduate diploma in gerontology — was highlighted in his Community Broadcasting Company series “Over Easy” as perfectly as several of his “20/20” parts.

“We all go through in our tradition from the concept … that youth was the significant point,” he explained.

“There has been sort of a loss of respect for older men and women, and we drop gleaning wisdom from older men and women. We drop the potential to see that impairment and decrepitude do not automatically go alongside with age.”

His get the job done on “20/20″ also confirmed his adventurous spirit, these kinds of as the time he got to trip a killer whale, and one more time he set on breathing apparatus to swim close to a terrific white shark. There was a dangerous expedition to the South Pole in which a single participant approximately fell to his death.

“I’m interested in science, the natural environment, drugs and selected personalities,” he explained. “I just do the stories I want to do. I do not want to be just the anchor.”

Downs began his get the job done as Paar’s next banana in 1957, soon after a stint as host of NBC’s “The House Clearly show.”

In a really publicized incident in February 1960, Paar stormed off the air in a dispute involving community slicing a Paar “water closet” (toilet) joke the censors disliked. Downs won praise for calmly telling the viewers “I’d like to consider this is not final” and trying to keep the live present running right until signoff time.

Downs explained afterwards that he expected that Paar would at any minute return to the phase “with some punch line or some thing. He didn’t.” But Downs explained he was at some point grateful for the strengthen the brouhaha gave his job.

Paar at last returned to the present a few months afterwards.

Paar’s departure from “Tonight” in 1962 paved the way for Johnny Carson. Downs, in the meantime, began his nine-yr run as host of the “Today” present. Walters was a “Today” colleague for part of that time. She admired Downs and praised his generosity and collegiality.

He expressed his views modestly in the 1995 reserve “The Box: An Oral Background of Tv, 1920-1961”: “In a way the considerably less expertise you have or deploy, the considerably less chance you have of overexposure. That may perhaps be why I have been on community television extra than anyone in the globe.”

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