Tom Kennedy, actor, prolific television series host, and radio announcer, has died. He was 93. Though the official cause of death remains unknown, Steve Beverly, Kennedy’s friend and approved memorialist, revealed via a Facebook post that the legendary emcee, “had not been well in recent months.”
Tom Kennedy – A Life Well Lived
Born James Edward Narz, Kennedy adopted his well-known nom de plume in order to differentiate himself from fellow radio announcer – and biological sibling – Jack Narz. After toiling as a disc jockey, sound engineer, and product pusher, Kennedy broke into the show hosting business thanks to pannel programs The Big Game and Dr. I.Q.
His first major success with the format was the NBC series You Don’t Say, which aired between 1963 and 1969 – with a brief reprisal in 1975. In 1972, he hosted the Monty Hall-created Split Second and for seven years (1974-1981), he invited audiences to Name That Tune. At one point, helping him as the Name That Tune Girl was Kathie Lee Johnson, who would go on to marry Frank Gifford and be known as Kathie Lee Gifford.
Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, Kennedy hosted a further nine game shows including To Say the Least (1977-78), Password Plus (1980-1982), Body Language (1984-86), and a syndicated primetime version of The Price Is Right (1985-86).
Aside from game shows, Kennedy was well known for hosting his own eponymous chat series and appearing as a contestant on programs like To Tell the Truth, Hollywood Squares, and Liar’s Club.
As a performer, Kennedy appeared in episodes of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, That Girl, Cannon, Hardcastle and McCormick, and Cybill. He also had a cameo part in the Harrison Ford vehicle Witness.
After nearly three decades in the limelight, Kennedy entered retirement in 1989 – though he did make a special one-off appearance on Hollywood Squares circa 2003. In July 2003, Kennedy and his brother were co-recipients of the Game Show Congress’ Bill Cullen Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Kennedy was preceded in death by Betty Gevedon, his wife of 59 years, and their daughter Julia Kathleen. He is survived by three other children – daughters Linda Ann and Courtney Ellen and son James Narz Jr. – as well as a daughter-in-law, a granddaughter and his sister, Mrs. Mary Lovett Scully.
Entertainment Hub sends our deepest condolences to Tom Kennedy’s family, friends, and fans at this very difficult time.