Broadcasting veteran Hugh Downs, best known for co-hosting ABC news magazine TV show, 20/20, has died at the age of 99. His family said in a statement that his passing was not related to the coronavirus.
Hugh Downs Passes Away
According to ABC News, Downs passed away on Wednesday, July 1, at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.
His signature farewell to viewers was “We’re in touch, so you be in touch,” on the ABC News program. Prior to hosting 20/20, Downs co-anchored the TODAY show on NBC from 1962 to 1971.
Downs’ career was so lengthy that he once held a record for the number of hours spent in front of a camera with an impressive 15,188. Eventually, Regis Philbin (Live With Regis and Kathie Lee; Live with Regis and Kelly) dethroned Downs. He retired from 20/20 over 20 years ago — in 1999 — but he still did voice-overs for various documentaries and TV specials.
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Born in Akron, Ohio, he began his broadcasting career in Detroit and Chicago. Later, he segued to television as an announcer on Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, the famous kids’ puppet program.
The legendary TV personality also appeared onscreen in late-night, serving as an announcer on early versions of the Tonight Show on NBC when Jack Paar was the host. He also lent his voice to Hawkins Falls, which is regarded as the first successful soap opera on television as it ran for five years in the 1950s.
“I’ve worked on so many different shows and done so many shows at the same time,” Downs told the Associated Press in 1986. “I once said I’d done everything on radio and television except play-by-play sports. Then I remembered I’d covered a boxing match in Lima, Ohio, in 1939.”
Downs dabbled in game shows, too, hosting the 1960s program Concentration which challenged contestants on both their memories and their ability to put together a puzzle using symbols and letters. For PBS in the 1990s, Downs hosted Live From Lincoln Center.
“In a way the less talent you have or deploy, the less chance you have of overexposure,” Downs modestly said in the 1995 book The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1920-1961. “That may be why I have been on network television more than anybody in the world.”
Entertainment Hub sends sincere condolences to the family of Hugh Downs at this difficult time.