Hugh Downs Known for His Work on ABC and NBC Dies at 99 – Remembering His Life and Career
On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, television broadcaster Hugh Downs sadly passed away a year short of reaching a century in years. He was well-known for his legendary work on ABC and NBC.
In a statement, Downs’ family announced that he died at the age of 99 at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. His great-niece, Molly Shaheen, confirmed that the legendary anchor passed away from a heart ailment.
Downs worked for two decades on ABC’s “20/20” and another nine years on NBC’s “Today show.” For another five years, the television anchor also worked as Jack Paar’s announcer on “The Tonight Show.”
WORKING AS AN ANNOUNCER
On the game show “Concentration,” Downs appeared as the host for nearly a decade. The star started his career working on radio stations in the Midwest.
On “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” and “Caesar’s Hour,” Downs featured as the announcer. He held the title of the person with the most hours on network television until 2004.
Rest in peace Hugh Downs.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) July 2, 2020
99 years old on 2020 pic.twitter.com/9bqeux27Rp
STARRING WITH BARBARA WALTERS
Downs’ record was surpassed by Regis Philbin. The late star also had the pleasure of working with another legend, Barbara Walters.
In the 1960s, he was the host of “Today” and he insisted that Walters get some time on camera. At the time, she was working as a writer and producer on the show.
RIP He woke us up on TV. He put us to bed on TV. He took us adventure journeys, mind games and displayed a calm demeanor that might not survive today on TV. Ohio native Hugh Downs, once the most ubiquitous face on television has died at 99. In Arizona. Heart ailment. pic.twitter.com/pC0ybbuRWz— Andrew Malcolm (@AHMalcolm) July 2, 2020
SUBSTITUTING FOR JACK PAAR
In 1979, the pair got to work together when she joined the “20/20” program. They ended up co-hosting the program together until he retired in September 1999.
From 1975 to 1976, the duo also co-hosted “Not for Women Only.” While working on “The Tonight Show,” Downs would substitute for Paar.
We celebrate the life of our former 20/20 co-anchor, legendary newsman and friend Hugh Downs after his death at age 99. We are grateful for his signature mark he left on our broadcasts and in our homes. pic.twitter.com/ZaAhF6lOVR— 20/20 (@ABC2020) July 2, 2020
He hosted the “Today” show from September 1962 until he retired from it in October 1971. On February 14, 1921, Downs was born in Akron, Ohio.
His family moved to a farm outside Lima, Ohio, before he found a job as an announcer and newscaster on a local radio station in 1939. Downs’ goal was to become a network announcer on Harry von Zell’s level.
Hugh Downs, the longtime anchor of ABC's 20/20 and a broadcast news legend, has died at 99.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) July 2, 2020
APPEARING ON TV SHOWS
Besides working as an announcer and show host; the late star also guest-starred on some TV comedies. He appeared on “Car 54,” “The Jack Benny Program,” “Where Are You?,” and “Laugh-In.”
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Hugh Downs. We heard from his family that Hugh passed away peacefully yesterday at his home in Scottsdale surrounded by his family at the age of 99. We are preparing a "Remembering Hugh" story which we will share soon. pic.twitter.com/yVjicH2hJz— The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication (@asuhdshc) July 2, 2020
BEING HONORED IN ARIZONA
Downs was honored in 1998 when Arizona named its school, The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. In 1944, he married his wife, Ruth Shaheen, and they lived together in Scottsdale.
LOSING HIS WIFE
The late star is also survived by his brother Wallace, and his and his wife’s two grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.