Hugh Downs, Longtime Broadcaster and Former Today Show Host, Dies at 99

The veteran 20/20 anchor died at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona

Hugh Downs
Hugh Downs.

Legendary broadcaster Hugh Downs had died. He was 99.

Downs died on Wednesday at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, The New York Times and ABC 15 reported. He was surrounded by family.

A household name, Downs was largely known for his roles as host of the Today show on NBC and 20/20 on ABC.

He hosted Today for nine years from September 1962 to October 1971. He also hosted the original version of the game show Concentration and co-hosted the syndicated television program Not for Women Only with Barbara Walters from 1975 to 1976.

In 1978, Downs landed his role at ABC. He hosted 20/20 for 21 years and became known for his sign-off message: "We're in touch, so you be in touch."

Born in Akron, Ohio, Downs made his first television debut in 1945 on WBKB-TV.

Hugh Downs
Hugh Downs. NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

He later went on to announce for Hawkins Falls, a soap opera, in 1950. He also announced the Burr Tillstrom children's show Kukla, Fran and Ollie.

In 1954, Downs moved to New York City, where he accepted a position as announcer for Pat Weaver's The Home Show starring Arlene Francis. He stayed in that role until 1957.

Before moving on to the game show Concentration, Downs was the announcer for Jack Paar's The Tonight Show.

Downs told USA Today in 1999: "Gosh, I'd like to lie on a beach for six weeks. But I knew by the end of the first hour I'd be thinking of something else to do, and I'd start doing it."

Hugh Downs Barbara Walters Today Show
Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters. NBC NewsWire/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty

Throughout his career, Downs received two Daytime Emmy Awards: outstanding special class program for Live from Lincoln Center in 1976 and outstanding host or hostess in a talk or service show for Over Easy in 1977.

Downs is survived by his two children: Hugh Raymond and Deirdre Lynn, whom he shared with his late wife Ruth Shaheen. Shaheen died in 2017.

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