Award winning News broadcaster and TV news anchor Hugh Downs died July 1, 2020 at his Scottsdale, Arizona home as a result of natural causes as the age of 99.
At one time “The Guinness Book of World Records” listed Downs has having the most hours of anyone in front of a camera with 15,000 hours. Regis Philbin topped Downs in 2004.
Over the course of his career, Downs could be seen on The “Today Show”, the “Tonight Show”, the game show “Concentration”, “20/20”, “Over Easy on PBS, and “Live from Lincoln Center”.
Downs was only 18 when he began his broadcasting career as an announcer for a small radio station in Ohio. In 1950 he made the move to television where he first worked in Chicago before moving to New York.
His reputation was such that Downs had the right a approve any ad spot before he read it and he took only the stories he wanted to cover. “My loyalty was with the person tuning in. It was expedient. If I lost my credibility, what use would I be to a client?”, said Downs. He chose to take the day off in 1997 when “20/20” carried an interview with sportscaster Marv Albert who had been mired in a sexual assault scandal.
Saying, “we all suffer in our culture from the idea … that youth was the big thing,” he was interested in issues of the aging, Downs earned a degree in gerontology.
Downs also had an interest in science; he once rode a killer whale, swam with a great white shark, and made an excursion to the South Pole. He also narrated a number of television documentaries.
A guitarist and composer, Downs had a prelude that has been performed by the St. Louis Symphony.
His accomplishments include Emmy Awards for his appearances on “Today”, “Over Easy”, and Live from Lincoln Center”. He has also written a number of books.
He was born Hugh Malcolm Down on February 14, 1921 in Akron, Ohio and was raised in Lima, Ohio where his machinist father worked on a farm to earn money during the Depression. When war broke out in 1941, Downs was drafted into the Army. He later earned a medical discharge after collapsing from exhaustion when the Army condensed the 13 week basic training program into only four weeks.
Predeceased by his wife Ruth, Downs is survived by his children Hugh and Deidre, brother Wallace, two grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.
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