Downs, Hugh (1921—)

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Downs, Hugh (1921—)

Throughout his more than sixty years in broadcasting, Hugh Downs has been the embodiment of reassurance and congeniality. Learning his craft as a radio announcer in the late 1930s and 1940s, Downs became the master host of television. After serving as announcer on Caesar's Hour and The Tonight Show, Downs simultaneously hosted an early morning series, Today, and a daily game show, Concentration. Always curious about health and science, Downs oversaw the first successful series on aging, Over Easy, for PBS. When the magazine series, 20/20, was floundering, ABC lured the affable Downs out of semi-retirement to anchor the show in 1978. He reported on many of his special interests, including sailing, psychology, and astronomy, for 20/20, helping to make it the network's signature primetime newsmagazine for over two decades. Because of his decency and trustworthiness, Downs is one of the most familiar and reassuring figures in the history of television, clocking more hours on the air than any other network personality according to The Guinness Book of World Records.

—Ron Simon

Further Reading:

Downs, Hugh. On Camera: My Ten Thousand Hours on Television. New York, Putnam, 1986.