We’re sadly inducting another posthumous member to the Television Crossover Hall of Fame as a member of the League of Themselves.
Hugh Downs, the versatile and Emmy-winning broadcaster whose decades-long TV career ranged from anchoring ABC News' "20/20" to the "Today" show to serving as Jack Paar's sidekick on "The Tonight Show," has died at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 99.
Local outlet AZFamily was first to report the news of Downs' passing, citing a statement from his great-niece, Molly Shaheen.
Downs -- who retired in 1999 -- was essentially there for the very start of commercial television, serving as the announcer for the children's show "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" and comedy legend Sid Caesar's "Caesar's Hour" in the 1950s.
In 1957, when Paar succeeded Steve Allen as host of "The Tonight Show," Downs became the announcer. The next year, Downs launched his run as the original host of the game show "Concentration."
Hugh Downs was a multidimensional in the greater TV universe, appearing as a member of the League of Themselves in Earth Prime-Time, but also in the Tooniverse.
Hugh Malcolm Downs (February 14, 1921 – July 1, 2020) was an American radio and television broadcaster, announcer and programmer, television host, news anchor, TV producer, author, game show host, and music composer. A regular television presence from the mid-1940s until the late 1990s, he had several successful roles on morning, prime-time, and late-night television. For several years, he held the certified Guinness World Record for the most hours on commercial network television, before being surpassed by Regis Philbin.
Well, if he had to lose the crown to somebody, better that it was to a fellow member of the Hall.
Here are the shows which define his membership as a multidimensional.
[Served as the host]
O’Bservation – My guidelines are a lot looser after a candidate dies. Much like my morals at a wake where booze is served. Unlike ‘Hollywood Squares’, I’m not finding any references to ‘Concentration’ in other fiction-based shows, only in a couple of episodes from ‘To Tell The Truth’. But he’s identified with it and being such a long-running show, there might be one eventually.
Car 54, Where Are You?
- Catch Me on the Paar Show (1961)
After a chance traffic stop with Hugh Downs, Gunther finagles an appearance on the Jack Paar show of a fellow officer he thinks is funny.
The Jack Benny Program
- Rock Hudson Show (1962)
Jack debates sex appeal with Rock Hudson. Jack wants to do a show like the ‘Tonight Show’.
Opinion from the IMDb:
The centerpiece, a take-off on the Jack Paar show, has dated. Benny spoofs Paar's mannerisms as host of ‘The Tonight Show’. Trouble is you have to be my age or older to recall Paar's stint as host (1957-62). The humor may have been timely for 1962, but is now badly dated. Also, Hugh Downs, Paar's announcer, was known for his erudition, which he spoofs here. But it's not very funny. Don Wilson takes the short end of the stick against Downs with good humor.
The Hollywood Squares
- Episode dated 19 November 1979
O’Bservation – Just two weeks ago, the Hall inducted ‘Hollywood Squares’ for its fictional version – its “televersion” – within other shows, or at least mentioned in those other shows. So Mr. Downs’ appearance on the show (and it was probably for the full week) qualifies for his membership requirements.
Call to Glory
- Call to Glory (1984)
... News Reporter (uncredited)
O’Bservation – Even though he looked older than he did in the early 1960s, which is when the show took place, I think it’s still supposed to be the televersion of Hugh Downs appearing as himself.
The shows which qualify him for membership then for just the main Toobworld would be:
- CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU?
- THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM
- HOLLYWOOD SQUARES
- CALL TO GLORY (with splainins)
As I said at the beginning, Hugh Downs was a multidimensional – he also appeared in the Tooniverse.
- The Kiss Seen Round the World (2001)
Since televersions could have fictional elements, (like Dennis Rodman being an alien; Art Carney and Tim Russert being related to fictional characters), then the same could apply to Hugh Downs. In Toobworld, here’s a theory of relateeveety: he is descended from Dan Flynn who was seen back in the early to mid-1800s….
- The Night of the Faceless Men (1960)
Good night and may God bless Hugh Downs.
Welcome to the Hall, Sir.