Biography: Hugh Downs
In 1985, Hugh Downs was entered into the Guinness Book of Records as having hosted more hours on network television than anyone else in the history of the medium. This record encompassed his nine years on NBC’s Today, 11 years with Concentration, and a fragment of his 17 years on ABC’s 20/20.
Downs began his career in 1939 in Lima, Ohio, as a radio announcer. In 1943, NBC moved him to Chicago, where he was on staff as a radio and television announcer for several years.
In the late 40s, Downs served as the announcer for the famed Kukla, Fran and Ollie puppet show. After a stint as the host of Home, he moved to New York where he continued as an announcer for NBC variety specials. During the same period, Downs began hosting the long-running game show, Concentration, and in 1957 he appeared on the morning broadcast of Today. He became the host of Today in 1962 and remained with the show for 10 years.
Downs hosted a number of documentaries in the 70s during his semi-retirement in Arizona. After six years, he returned to weekly TV as the host of the ABC newsmagazine 20/20. In the 80s, he was joined by Barbara Walters as co-host, reuniting the duo from Today.
Downs has also hosted the PBS series Live From Lincoln Center since 1990.
A veteran or more than 50 years in broadcasting, Downs has received numerous lifetime achievement awards and honorary degrees.