The 8 Best Game Show Hosts of the 1980s
8. Chuck Woolery (“Wheel of Fortune,” “Love Connection,” “Scrabble”): Chuck Woolery was the original host of “Wheel of Fortune,” but lost the gig to the smarmy wet blanket, Pat Sajack, after a salary dispute. Almost all of Woolery’s episodes have been permanently lost, as NBC had a habit of wiping tapes to save money.
Where Is He Now? The man is over 70, so he’s not doing much. His most recent show was “Lingo” on GSN, which ran from 2002-2007. I don’t know where it aired, but in 2003, there was also a reality show that tracked Woolery’s daily life.
7. Ray Combs: (“Family Feud”): Combs started out as a warm-up act for sitcoms, including “Amen.” He had very little experience when he was selected, but Combs was behind the revitalization of the show, after replacing Richard Dawson. However, after six years, Richard Dawson replaced Combs again. Combs last words on “Family Feud,” to another contestant, were: “You know, I’ve done this show for six years and this [is] the first time I had a person that actually got no points and I think it’s a damn fine way to go out. Thought I was a loser until you walked up here. You made me look like a man.”
Where is he now? Dead. The life of Ray Combs came to a sad conclusion. After he was replaced on “Family Fued,” Combs’ house was foreclosed upon, his wife left him, and he was eventually admitted into a psychiatric hospital. It was there where Combs took his own life, hanging himself with bed sheets.
6. Ken Ober: (“Remote Control”): “Remote Control,” which was MTV’s first original series to focus on non-musical content, helped to launch the careers of Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn, and Denis Leary. So, we can thank Ober for destroying MTV and giving us Adam Sandler. “Remote Control” was so awesome, though, that it was totally worth it. Plus, he also gave us Kari Wuhrer, who is totally still around.
Where is he now? Sadly, Ober passed away in 2009 at the age of 52. The cause of death is uncertain, but some say it was a heart attack.
5. Marc Summers (“Double Dare”): “Double Dare” became the very first cable game show to enter first-run syndication after Fox picked up the distribution rights to it in 1988.
Where is he now? Summers is still around. He was a pretty great host of “Unwrapped” for ten years, and is now the host of “The Greatest Food I Ever Ate.” Summers has also been diagnosed with OCD. He currently lives in Philadelpha (a few years back, he also hosted a version of “Drunk Double Dare” on a radio show in Philly).
4. Peter Tomarken (“Press Your Luck,” “Bargain Hunters”): I don’t understand it, but everyone that was old enough to be at home in the 80s has seen the episode of “Press Your Luck” involving Michael Larson, the unemployed ice cream truck driver who won $110,000 in cash and prizes, a record for daytime game shows. What I didn’t know until recently was that Larson had memorized the pattern of Whammies using his VCR at home. He was allowed to keep his winnings, however, as investigations revealed that he had not cheated. All of this is documented in fascinating episode of “This American Life”.
Where Is He Now? In 2006, Peter Tomarken — a private pilot — and his wife died when their aircraft crashed into Santa Monica Bay.
3. Bob Eubanks (“The Newlywed Game,” “Card Sharks”): The long-running host of the on-again off-again “The Newlywed Game,” back in the 60s, Eubanks coined the term - borrowed from the song — “Makin’ Whoopee.” Strangely, however, he was not allowed to say “panties” in the original iteration of the show. This is the best moment in game show history:
Where is he now?: Eubanks is unofficially retired. He bops around the GSN occasionally, and even appeared on last season’s finale of “The Amazing Race.” Also, Eubanks is kind of a dick. During filming for Michael Moore’s Roger & Me, Eubanks — a Flint, Michigan native — was caught telling this joke: “You know why Jewish women don’t get AIDS? Because they marry assholes, they don’t screw them. Pardon me.” Pardon you, indeed.
2. Bob Barker: (“The Price is Right”): Fun Fact! Bob Barker has 14 Emmy Awards for outstanding game show host. He has also been sued at least seven times by women for sexual harassment and hostile working conditions (all cases were settled out of court; terms were undisclosed). I think Barker should’ve considered applying that spading and neutering advice he gave at the end of each show to himself.
Where is he now? Barker is retired. He wrote an autobiography two years ago.
1. Alex Trebek (“Jeopardy,” “Pitfall,” “Battlestars”): During my junior year in college, I had a close friend who appeared on College Jeopardy. I knew that he had done well before the episodes had aired and blackmailed my University paper into giving me a job in exchange for an exclusive interview with the contestant. It worked. I became a staff member (and subsequent columnist) and my friend won College Jeopardy that year. He would later be a Quarter Finalist in Jeopardy’s Ultimate Tournament of Champions. He also said Trebek was kind of stand-offish, which I suspect was a nice way of saying, “A smug Canadian dick.”
Where is he now? Trebek, even after a minor heart attack four years ago, is still hosting “Jeopardy,” of course. He lives next to Ed Begley, Jr.
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