From his humble beginnings in Canada to his icon status in the American broadcasting world, Alex Trebek has accomplished a lot in eight decades! In honor of his 80th birthday on July 22, 2020, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at our all-time favorite game show hosts from over the years… starting with Alex! He's served as the host of the trivia game show "Jeopardy!" since 1984. In March 2019, Alex shared some big news with viewers: He'd been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He vowed to fight the disease and continue to head the show. But months later, Alex revealed that complications from his chemotherapy — including painful mouth sores — might make it difficult for him to stay on the job. Talking with TV journalist Lisa LaFlamme, Alex said, "I will keep doing it as long as my skills do not diminish, and they have started to diminish." In true game show host fashion, Alex also said of his ongoing treatment, "We'll play it by ear and just keep chunking along until we either win or lose." Keep reading for more of our fave game show hosts…
Since December 1981, Pat Sajak has entertained the world as the host of "Wheel of Fortune." Since he was hired to replace Chuck Woolery, Pat has become one of the longest serving game show hosts in history, and his name has become synonymous with the word-guessing game in which contestants must guess, letter by letter, a series of fun phrases after spinning a prize wheel.
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Of course, we can't leave out Pat Sajak's "Wheel of Fortune" partner in crime, Vanna White. The game show hostess began her tenure as the most famous letter-turner in the world in 1983 and hasn't left the show since. After Pat and Vanna celebrated their show's 7,000th episode, Vanna joked with USA Today about her initial thoughts when she was cast on the series all those years ago, saying "I thought, 'Well, this is gonna be fun, but I can't imagine it lasting that long.'"
Chris Hardwick, Jenny McCarthy, and Carmen Electra are the bold-faced names who steered the game-play on the original iteration of the iconic dating show "Singled Out." While the "Talking Dead" star served as a host until the show's original run came to an end in 1998, Carmen filled in for Jenny when she left "Singled Out" in 1997. The two women may have gone on to enjoy lucrative careers in hosting, but only Chris continued to thrive in the game show biz: From 2013 to 2017, he hosted the Emmy-winning Comedy Central game show "@midnight." He's also hosted the NBC game show "The Wall" since 2016.
She's been the star of her own sitcom, comedy specials, reality competition series and day time talk show, and in 2017, Ellen DeGeneres added game show host to her resume. On the Emmy-winning star's hilarious show "Ellen's Game of Games," contestants compete through four rounds of wacky challenges for a chance to win $100,000.
Steve Harvey is a comedian, producer and actor who's hosted multiple game shows, including "Family Feud," "Celebrity Family Feud," "Little Big Shots" and "Steve Harvey's Funderdome" — just to name a few. Steve took over as the sixth host of "Family Feud" back in 2010 and quickly managed to breathe new life into the show that first aired all the way back in 1976.
Actress and comedy star Betty White has also been a game show host! In 1983, the "Golden Girls" actress became the first woman to win a Daytime Emmy for outstanding game show host, taking home the prize for her work leading NBC's "Just Men!" She was also a frequent panelist on game shows including "Password," "Match Game," "Tattletales," "The Hollywood Squares," and "The $25,000 Pyramid."
While most of us know Bob Barker as the long-time host of the popular game show "The Price is Right" — a position he held for 35 years — he was also the host of another famous game show before that: "Truth or Consequences" from 1956 to 1974. Bob officially retired from "The Price is Right" in 2007 but remained on as an executive producer and occasional guest host until 2015.
It took a special guy to replace a legend like Bob Barker, but comedian Drew Carey was up for the challenge. In 2007, Drew became the new host of "The Price is Right" — a role he fills to this day.
Before he became one of the judges on NBC's "America's Got Talent," Canadian comedian and TV personality Howie Mandel landed a gig as the host of NBC then CNBC's "Deal or No Deal" in 2005, a position he's held ever since. Howie also went on to host the Canadian version of the hit game show "Deal or No Deal Canada" for five episodes in 2007.
No list of famous game show hosts would be complete without Bob Eubanks. Best known for hosting "The Newlywed Game" from 1966 until 1974, Bob continued his winning streak with game shows like "Rhyme and Reason," "The Mike Douglas Show" (a variety series in which Bob served as a game host), "Trivia Trap" and "Card Sharks." Fun fact: Bob was a regular panelist on another popular game show: "Hollywood Squares."
In 1963, Canadian-American TV personality Monty Hall kicked off one of the most popular game show series of the 20th century: "Let's Make a Deal." The long-serving host of the show was notorious for wheeling and dealing with contestants, giving them the choice between an unknown amount of cash or a mystery box or door. And fans loved hearing him deliver his catchphrase, "Do you want Door No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3?" Before Monty's death in 2017, he made a final appearance as a celebrity guest on a rebooted "Deal" in 2010.
In 2009, comedic actor Wayne Brady — who'd been a regular performer on the improv series "Whose Line Is it Anyway?" — changed lanes and became the host and executive producer of a reboot of the iconic game show "Let's Make a Deal." Paying homage to the show's original host, Wayne invited Monty Hall for a visit in 2010. Prior to "Deal," Wayne had already experienced game show life as the host of the musical series "Don't Forget the Lyrics!" from 2007 to 2009.
Not only was Chuck Woolery the original host of "Wheel of Fortune" from 1975 to 1981 (Pat Sajak later took over) — he was also the beloved host of several other game shows. From the matchmaking series "Love Connection" and the board-game-inspired "Scrabble" to the mystery word challenge competition series "Lingo," Chuck's made a career out of being a host with the most.
English journalist Anne Robinson was once best known as the presenter for the British shows "Points of View" and "Watchdog," but her most recognizable gig came as the host of the BBC game show "The Weakest Link," a position she held from 2000 to 2012 and reprised for the American version from 2001 to 2002. The game show revolved around a team of nine players who answer general knowledge questions and at the end of each round vote out the weakest player. Anne was beloved for her sarcastic, taunting behavior toward the contestants and her ability to poke fun at herself at the same time. Her catchphrase? "You are the weakest link — goodbye!"
You might not recognize mobile game show host Ben Bailey outside of his famous taxi. Since 2005, Ben's been the host of the popular trivia-on-the-go game show "Ca$h Cab" (he also serves as an executive producer on the series). The show went on a four-year hiatus in 2012 after being canceled, but it was rebooted in 2017. Sadly, by 2018, it had been canceled once again. Yet as luck would have it, in 2019, it was reported that Bravo had picked up the series with plans to reboot it — with Ben as the host — in the near future.
Games and television are a natural mix for former NFL defensive end-turned-TV host Michael Strahan. So it came as no surprise when the former "Live! With Kelly and Michael" co-host and current "Good Morning America" personality was tapped to host the rebooted classic game show series "The $100,000 Pyramid" — on which he also serves as an executive producer — in 2016. The game matches contestants with celebrity partners as they attempt to guess words in order to win the coveted $100K prize.
From 1997 to 2002, pedantic actor, writer, lawyer and political commentator Ben Stein also served as the host of his own game show, "Win Ben Stein's Money." The brainy Hollywood star, who's known for his role as the repetitive professor in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," offered up $5,000 of his own cash to contestants on his game show with one caveat: At the show's halfway mark, Ben would have a chance to compete against them to win it back.
Before Tom Bergeron hosted his way into our hearts as the emcee on the TV competition series "Dancing With the Stars" — and made us laugh with his dad humor on "America's Funniest Home Videos" — he was the host of an iconic game show. From 1998 to 2004, Tom hosted the rebooted series "Hollywood Squares," which pitted contestants against one another in a hilarious game of celebrity tic-tac-toe.
In a profession that's undeniably dominated by men, it's refreshing to see one of our favorite comedic actresses, Jane Lynch, owning her role as the host of the popular series "Hollywood Game Night," a position she's held since 2013. The music- and laughter-filled show pits two "civilian" contestants and their team of celebrities against each other as they compete over pop culture quizzes and party games, with the goal of winning $25,000.
For more than 20 years, TV and radio personality Gene Rayburn was the popular host of several different incarnations of the comedy game show series "The Match Game." Beginning in 1962, Gene guided competitors as they tried to match answers based on fill-in-the-blank questions given by celebrity guests. Over the years, Gene hosted other variations including "Match Game PM," "Match Game" and "Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour." In 1999, Gene passed away from congestive heart failure at 81.
You might not think of Food Network celebrity chef Guy Fieri when you think of game show hosts, but from 2013 to 2018, this "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" star was the host of the supermarket-inspired game show "Guy's Grocery Games." The series saw four chefs battle through three shopping cart and cooking competitions for a chance to win $20,000. Prior to that — from 2010 to 2011 — Guy served as the host of "Minute to Win It," on which contestants competed in 10 challenges using common household objects to try to win $1 million.
For four years, comedian Jeff Foxworthy made America laugh (and feel a tad bit dumber) as the host of the elementary-level knowledge-inspired game show "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" The series, which Jeff also executive produced, pitted grown adults against fifth-grade trivia questions, which they were forced to answer with the help of a team of expert fifth graders. In 2011, the show was canceled, but Jeff and the series made a brief return to TV in 2015 before going off the air once again. 2019 saw the show's return, this time with an unlikely host: wrestler-turned-actor John Cena. Today, you can catch Jeff on another hilarious competition series, "Bring the Funny," where he, Kenan Thompson and Chrissy Teigen judge young comedians who have a shot at winning $250,000.
While these days, TV personality Marc Summers is best recognized for his work on Food Network shows like "Unwrapped," "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," "Guy's Grocery Games" and "Restaurant Impossible," children of the '80s remember Marc as the host of the infinitely messy game show "Double Dare." The Nickelodeon show combined obstacle courses and quizzes and led contestants into hilariously sticky situations that included being doused in a bucket of slime. In 2018, the show was rebooted with Marc once again serving as the host.
While Steve Harvey is the current face of "Family Feud," its original hosting duties belonged to the late Richard Dawson. Best known for his role of Corporal Peter Newkirk in "Hogan's Heroes," Richard was also a regular panelist on "Match Game" from 1973 to 1978. He landed his "Family Feud" hosting gig in 1976 and held it until 1985 and again from 1994 to 1995. He received seven Daytime Emmy nominations for his work on "Family Feud" and won once, in 1978. Richard passed away from complications of esophageal cancer in 2012 at 79.
The list of TV host Regis Philbin's accomplishments on the small screen is a long one. But of all the shows Regis was affiliated with over the decades, one was a particular favorite — the get-rich trivia series "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" which he hosted from 1999 until 2009. Regis also hosted a few other popular game shows including "Who Wants to Be a Super Millionaire?" in 2004 — which promised a top prize of $10 million — as well as "Million Dollar Password" from 2008 to 2009, which was a reboot of "Password Plus," the classic game show from the '70s and '80s.
Broadcast journalist-turned-TV host Meredith Vieira became one of the few women to host a game show when she took the reigns from Regis Philbin on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" in 2009 after serving as a guest host on the show since 2002. After Meredith left "Millionaire" in 2013 to host her own daytime talk show, we weren't sure we'd see her on a game show again. That changed in 2018 when she launched her newest show, "25 Words or Less," on which contestants compete against celebrities with word games in hopes of winning $10,000.
Is there anything Neil Patrick Harris can't do? Short answer: No. Aside from hosting major award shows, starring on wildly popular TV comedies, making movies and winning Emmy and Tony Awards, Neil also took a turn as a game show host in 2018 with "Genius Junior" — a show that brought the smartest kids under 12 to the stage in a brainy competition of wits. Winners earned a grant to help them achieve their future dreams. Sadly, the series came to an end after just one season.
Emmy-winning actor Louie Anderson was a game show host back in the day! From 1999 to 2002, he hosted the third revival of "Family Feud" before being replaced by "Home Improvement" star Richard Karn.
"The Bold and the Beautiful" and "Hilton Head Island" actor Wink Martindale is perhaps one of the most prolific game show hosts on our list. Since 1964, Wink has led a plethora of delightful competition series including "Dream Girl of '67," "Can You Top This," "Card Sharks," "Las Vegas Gambit," "Trivial Pursuit," "Instant Recall," "How's Your Mother-In-Law?" and "What's This Song?" In 2010, Wink reprised his game show past by appearing as a pretend host on the hilarious senior prank series "Betty White's Off Their Rockers."
We couldn't leave the late, great Dick Clark off our list. Though he's known for his work on "American Bandstand" and "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve," many of his older fans also remember him as a popular game show host. His game show roster includes "The Object Is," "Missing Links," "The Match Game," "Scattergories" and "The $10,000 Pyramid" and "The $25,000 Pyramid," which he hosted for 16 years. Dick's final game show gig came in 2000 with "Winning Lines," a numerical quiz challenge that lasted one season. In 2012, Dick died at 82 following a heart attack, leaving behind a legacy of entertainment greatness.
No doubt you know Chris Harrison for his work as the longtime host of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," as well as their various spinoffs, but he also hosted "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" from 2015 to 2019 — and scored two Emmy nominations for his efforts! Before he came to the long-running game show, Regis Philbin, Meredith Vieira, Cedric the Entertainer and Terry Crews served as its host. When the series returned in 2020, Jimmy Kimmel took over hosting duties.