The game show era of the 1970s and 1980s. A strange time. Refined, black-tie shows like What’s My Line and Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life gave way to wide lapels, sexual innuendoes and long-stemmed microphones.
Helming these shows was an interchangeable fleet of charmingly fake-tanned, bleach-toothed, dyed-haired pseudo sex symbols, the majority of whom had begun their careers as small-market disc jockeys. They were likably sleazy. Used car salesmen with a heart of gold. And following Johnny Carson’s lead, they pushed/shredded the envelope when it came to loud sport coats.
That’s not to say they weren’t good guys—Richard Dawson often made on-air, tearful pleas to help save the lives of needy children. Bob Barker certainly helped control the pet population. And Peter Tomarken died trying to transport a cancer patient in his Beechcraft Bonanza prop plane.
Today, we salute them. Our seven favorite game show hosts of the ’70s and ’80s.