Hugh Downs dead: Longtime ‘Today’ show, ‘20/20’ host dies at 99

Carla Harmon
July 3, 2020

Hugh Downs - a broadcasting legend with 60 years experience on "Today", "20/20" and "The Tonight Show" - has died.

A spokesperson for the family announced that Downs died peacefully Wednesday in his Scottsdale, Arizona, home.

When Paar left "The Tonight Show" in 1962, Downs - who had frequently substituted for Paar - thought he might be asked to replace him.

In 1962, he began a nine-year stint anchoring NBC's "Today" show, where his long working partnership with Barbara Walters originated.

"I thought TV was a gimmick like 3-D movies and it would just go away", Downs, who had a friendly, low-key manner on the air, said in an interview with the Archive of American Television.

According to USA Today, at one point Downs held the record for most hours - 10,000 - in front of a television camera. He was also well-known as a game show host, hosting "Concentration", which was inspired by the children's matching card game. From 1978, starting with 20/20's second episode, he co-anchored that news program until his retirement in 1999. The pair also hosted the syndicated talk show "Not for Women Only".

In his later years Downs was seen on television in an infomercial for a book promoting health secrets.

Downs worked for PBS too, for much of the 1990s he was the host of the network's "Live From Lincoln Center" broadcasts.

Downs' interests included music composition, aviation, astronomy and space exploration.

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