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YouTube/Montclair State University

Sonny Fox, Kids TV Host on 'Wonderama' Dies at 95 Due to COVID-19 — inside His Life and Career

Junie Sihlangu
Jan 29, 2021
08:20 A.M.

Television show host Sonny Fox sadly passed away over the weekend, according to his daughter. The star had been positively diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease before his death.

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Meredith Fox, Sonny Fox’s daughter, informed “The Hollywood Reporter” of her father’s passing over the weekend. The children’s television show host died on Sunday at a hospital in Encino.

He passed away at the age of 95 from pneumonia that was induced by the novel coronavirus disease. During World War II, the Brooklyn native was taken as a prisoner of war while serving his country.

Sonny Fox speaks during "Sonny Fox: Forty Years In Television: A Conversation With Whoopi Goldberg" on September 24, 2012, in New York City | Photo: Cindy Ord/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Sonny Fox speaks during "Sonny Fox: Forty Years In Television: A Conversation With Whoopi Goldberg" on September 24, 2012, in New York City | Photo: Cindy Ord/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Fox later worked as a wartime correspondent for the “Voice of America.” He also worked as the emcee for game shows like “The Price Is Right” and “The $64,000 Challenge!”

The late star also enjoyed being the inaugural producer on the late-night talk show “Tomorrow.” He’s probably more well-known for his work on the show “Wonderama.”

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New York’s Metromedia station WNEW-TV, Channel 5 hired him in 1959 to replace Doris Faye and Bill Britten on the show. He nailed his work by having an incredible bond with the children who came on.

The star actually realized he clicked with children when he had around 50 children in the studio. Fox decided to keep the children entertained between takes by playing games and talking to them.

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One of the people on set asked the television personality why he didn’t have the same interaction with the children on air. That’s when Fox started understanding that “Wonderama” was about him and the children.

He realized he needed to explore their minds and see how far he could let them venture. The realization led the television series to become massively successful, and within a year, Fox had gained the children’s trust.

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The late presenter appeared on “Wonderama” for four hours each Sunday. The show included games like Simon Says and Musical Chairs, cartoons, magic tricks, art instructions, spelling bees, and prizes.

Fox eventually left the show in 1967 to co-host an adult talk show for Channel 5 during that same year. In 1977, he had a change in career as he ran children's programming for NBC.

He also served as the president of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in New York. The late star then worked as a producer for various shows like “The Golden Age of Television.”

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In 2012, he released his memoir “But You Made the Front Page: Wonderama, War, and a Whole Bunch of Life.” His survivors include Meredith, sons Dana and Tracy, and seven grandchildren.

On June 17, 1925, he was born Irwin "Sonny" Fox before attending P.S. 217, Erasmus Hall High School. The late host then attended James Madison High School and graduated from it in 1942.

The plan was for him to follow his father into the textile business after his schooling, but he took a different route. He studied production and writing at the New York University before joining the army.

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