Downs – who retired in 1999 – was essentially there to start commercial television, serving as the announcer of the children’s show “Doll, Fran and Ollie” and the comedy legend Sid Caesar’s “Caesar’s Watch” of the 1950s.
In 1957, when Paar succeeded Steve Allen as host of The Tonight Show, Downs became an announcer. The following year, Downs launched his race as the original host of the show “Concentration.”
When Paar left “Tonight’s Show” in 1962, Downs – who often replaced Paar – thought he might be asked to replace him. Instead, the network hired Johnny Carson and Downs who found themselves on NBC’s “Today,” where he spent nearly a decade on the morning program.
In the show “Today,” Downs famously advocated for the career of Barbara Walters, advocating that the young writer and producer be given the opportunity to camera. The two later joined the syndicated program in
middleIn 1970, “It’s Not Just for Women,” before they later reunited on “20/20.”
Downs was not involved in the development and launch of the film “20/20” in 1978, recalling in an interview with the Archives of the American Television of the Television Academy that the premiere was “terribly catastrophic” and that critics persecuted it. After the first episode, ABC News president Roone Arledge asked Downs to take it over as an anchor to fix the show. Downs said he wanted to make a show like “60 Minutes,” and the opportunity “fell from the sky on me”.
“‘60 minutes’ created an atmosphere that allowed us to flourish as a competitive magazine, ”Downs said. Walters joined the program a year after his debut and became Downs ’co-host in 1984. Downs, with his baritone voice and soothing manner, remained with the program until his retirement.
Downs won a couple of Emmy Awards, for the program “Live from Lincoln Center” and a guest appearance in the PBS talk “Over Easy,” which premiered in 1977 and was intended for older viewers.
Born in Akron, Ohio, Downs began working in radio after college – a stench that interrupted his service during World War II – before landing at the WMAQ in Chicago, owned by NBC, where he worked at various facilities for several years. before moving to New York.
Guinness World Records once recognized Downs for appearing in more hours of American television (roughly 10,000) than anyone else, a record that was later broken by Regis Philbin.
Downs ’wife, Ruth Shaheen Downs, died in 2017 at the age of 95. The two have been married since 1944.
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