Hugh Downs was an American multi-talented radio and television broadcaster, announcer and television host who got much recognition for his work as an anchor of the ABC News magazine, “20/20” which he served for 21 years and also for his work in the NBC News program, “Today”. Downs also held the certified Guinness World Record for the most hours on commercial network television for several years, before being surpassed by Regis Philbin.
Aside from being an anchor, Downs also served as a TV producer, author, game show host, and music composer. He also hosted the PBS talk show, “Over Easy” and was co-host of the syndicated talk show, “Not for Women Only”. In 1984, Downs was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum and also was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois.
However, on July 1, 2020, Downs took his last breath after he died from heart failure at age of 99 at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.
What is Hugh Downs Famous for?
- Famous as Emmy Award-winning television anchor known for his work on ABC’s “20/20”.
Where was Hugh Downs Born?
Hugh Downs was born on February 14, 1921, in Akron, Ohio, United States. His birth name was Hugh Malcolm Downs. His nationality was American. Downs belonged to White ethnicity while Aquarius was his zodiac sign.
Hugh was born in a well-to-do family to Edith(mother) and Milton Howard Downs(father). Both of his parents were involved in the business. He attended Lima Shawnee High School in Lima, Ohio, then he joined Bluffton College and later got graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
He had an interest in commentary and show business since his childhood that he ended up with a career as a radio and television broadcaster, and a host. During his first year at college, he worked as a radio announcer and program director at WLOK in Lima, Ohio.
In 1940, he moved on to WWJ in Detroit where he also served in the United States Army during World War II in 1943. He then joined the NBC radio network at WMAQ as an announcer in Chicago where he lived until 1954. While at WMAQ, Downs also acted, including as the “co-pilot” on the Uncle Ned’s Squadron program in 1951. Later, in 1956, he joined Columbia University in New York City.
When Did Hugh Downs Die?
Hugh Downs died from heart failure on July 1, 2020, at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. Downs left the world with his good deeds that he contributed in the field of the entertainment field. Downs passed away after 2 years anniversary of his wife’s death on March 28, 2017. He is survived by his children and his grandchildren.
Hugh Downs Career Highlights
- Hugh Downs made his first television news broadcast with the still-experimental studio of WBKB-TV in September 1945.
- He became a television regular with the first successful television soap opera, “Hawkins Falls” in 1950.
- In March 1954, Downs moved to New York City to work as an announcer for Pat Weaver’s television program, “The Home Show”. He remained in the show for 3 years till 1957.
- He also worked as the announcer for Sid Caesar’s 1956-57 season, “Caesar’s Hour”, and one of NBC Radio’s Monitor “Communicators” for 4 years.
- Downs got much recognition and became a bona fide television personality as Jack Paar’s announcer on “The Tonight Show” in 1957.
- On August 25, 1958, Downs began concurrently hosting the original version of the game show, “Concentration”.
- He also hosted NBC’s “Today Show” for nine years from September 1962 to October 1971.
- He then co-hosted the syndicated television program, “Not for Women Only” with Barbara Walters in 1975–76.
- He also appeared as a panelist on the television game show, “To Tell the Truth” and as himself in an episode of NBC’s sitcom, “Car 54, Where Are You?”. He also made a cameo appearance on “Family Guy”.
- In 1977, he began hosting a PBS television program, “Over Easy”, during which he earned a postgraduate degree in gerontology from Hunter College. He hosted the show for 6 years till 1983.
- Downs got much recognition after he began co-anchoring the popular ABC News primetime news magazine program, “20/20” in 1978 until his retirement in 1999.
- He also hosted the PBS showcase for classical music, “Live from Lincoln Center” from 1990–96.
Awards and Honors
- In 1967, Downs was inducted as a Lincoln Laureate in the Lincoln Academy of Illinois and was awarded the “Order of Lincoln”.
- In 1984, Downs was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.
- In 1985, Downs was certified by the Guinness World Records as holding the record for the greatest number of hours on network commercial television.
- On October 13, 2007, Downs became one of the first inductees into the American TV Game Show Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hugh Downs Wife and Children
Hugh Downs got married for once throughout his entire life. His first and the only wife was Ruth Shaheen, with whom he got married on February 17, 1944. They remained together for over 73 years until Shaheen died on March 28, 2017, at age of 95. They shared two children: Deirdre and H.R.
Besides, Downs served as chairman of the board of the United States Committee for UNICEF. He was also a special consultant to the United Nations for refugee problems. He was a science consultant for Westinghouse Laboratories and the Ford Foundation and an elected member of the National Academy of Science.
He also served as chair of the Board of Governors of the National Space Society until 2019. Moreover, he also authored several books including “Potential: The Way to Emotional Maturity”, “Thirty Dirty Lies About Old Age”, “The Best Years Book”, “On Camera: My 10,000 Hours on Television”, “Fifty to Forever” and many others.
Hugh Downs Net Worth
Hugh Downs has quite good earnings from his professional career as a television host and broadcaster. Having been in this field for over 50 years, Downs had managed to amass a million worth fortune from his several TV shows, and series.
His net worth at the time of his death was around $20 million.
Hugh Downs Height
Hugh Downs was a good looking man in his late 90s until he died at age of 99. Downs had a height of 5ft. 3inch. while his body weight was around 65kg. He had a fair complexion with white hair and brown eyes.