Ralph Edwards, TV host and producer from the 1950s of This Is Your Life and the game show Truth or Consequences, died Wednesday of heart failure, his publicist said in Los Angeles. Edwards was 92.
Often parodied but very high rated for its day, This Is Your Life, which started on radio then ran on NBC-TV from 1952-61, had Edwards catching celebrities off-guard and then bringing then back to the TV studio where he paraded people from their pasts before the them. Among those he captured were Marilyn Monroe, Bob Hope, Laurel and Hardy, Andy Griffith and Rock Hudson.
Some stars groaned at having to sit through reunions with family members and former schoolteachers, while others proved good sports. Just last week, ABC announced that a new version of This is Your Life, with Regis Philbin as host, is in the works.
Truth or Consequences, in which contestants had to perform stunts to win prizes, also started on radio, in the ’40s, and then moved to TV with Edwards hosting. Although he remained as producer, current The Price Is Right host Bob Barker succeeded him as host. As late as the 1980s, Edwards was still producing, including the hit The People’s Court, which made a star out of Judge Joseph A. Wapner.
In 1929 Edwards, age 16, broke into radio while still in high school in Oakland, Calif., then worked on stations in San Francisco while attending the University of California, Berkeley.
“The changes in both radio and television are mind-boggling,” Edwards said years later, as quoted by the Associated Press. He recalled that until 1948 his radio version of Truth or Consequences was produced twice each Saturday, once for the East Coast and again three hours later for the West Coast.
“We would use the same script, but all new contestants,” he said.
Edwards’s wife, Barbara, died in 1993 after 53 years of marriage. A son, Gary, and daughters Christine and Laurie survive him.