You think I'd forget? Five worst people ever to sit behind the podium of a game show:
5) PATRICK WAYNE. Son of John Wayne. Hosted the dreadful 1990 revival of Tic Tac Dough. Decent actor, horrible host. Two words: YOUUUUUUU WIIIIIIIIIINNNNN!!!!!!!!!!
4) ALEX TREBEK. From High Rollers in the 1970s to Classic Concentration in the late '80s and early '90s to his 23-year-and-counting role as host of Jeopardy!, Alex has never failed to keep the pompous arrogance from oozing through his Canadian cracks. Even today I cannot look at him without my mind adding his jet-black '70s-era curly-Q hair and bushy moustache ... and turning toward Ruta Lee to present her with the dice.
Eugene Levy did a beautiful job portraying parody host "Alex Trebel" on several SCTV skits in the late '70s.
Moustache'd or not, to paraphrase the horse in Ren & Stimpy: "No sir, I don't like him."
3) RICHARD DAWSON. It started with his violating the near-perfect comraderie of 1970s Match Game celebrities. As those of you who remember watching the show can recall, the final endgame -- the "one-on-one" -- allowed the contestant to pick the celebrity (s)he wanted to try and match. 90% of the time (like the sheep they are) they always picked Richard Dawson. And he ate it up like hot chicken on a buffet table.
The "star wheel" came about because the other members of the ensemble (!) wanted in on the glory. The contestant spun the wheel, and where it landed was the celebrity they had. Richard didn't like it. He began openly pouting and acting like a complete asshole on later episodes.
Then Mark Goodson in 1976 picked him to host a new game show, Family Feud. And most of us who watched it back in the day know how Richard used to kiss every female contestant on the show. Gran Lera had another name for Feud: "Kissy-Kissy." That's what she called it. As in, "At 10:00 I'll watch Pyramid and then change it over to channel 9 for 'Kissy-Kissy.'"
Feud ended its initial run in 1985, and was revived in 1988. However, Goodson didn't want Dawson for the gig; that honor went to Ray Combs -- whom I nominated for my top 10 best hosts list. Of course, when Goodson died and left the candy store to son Jonathan, he committed two mortal sins -- first was to ax Combs and bring back Kissyface Dawson, and the second was to remove all stops and governors from the ego of a certain other host, Mr. Spay-and-Neuter:
2) BOB BARKER. I've already ranted about Barker in this space. At first, he was a great host -- had a good, if impish, interaction with contestants. That did him very well on Truth or Consequences. And for the first decade or so of The Price is Right, he could do no wrong. Then came the his big "animal-rights" crusades, where he began using the show's closing as his own personal platform, and just plain developed a Superman complex when it came to TPIR in general. By the early to mid '80s, one could tell a definite condescending tone toward contestants, at times bordering on ridicule.
My final straw was one night during college when I saw him on Nightline debating the issue of animal rights and fur coats in general. His irrational tone and sheer intimidating arrogance is what I remember about Bob, twenty years later.
Bob Barker is not a nice man. Just ask Holly Halstrom, Dian Parkinson and Janice Pennington.
"CBS is paying tribute to MY 50 years on television." Maalox, please!
And Talmadge's anti-nod to his worst game show host of all time goes to this, um, Real Person.....
1) JOHN BARBOUR. I can't put Barker at number 1, simply because at one time -- back when his ego was still humble -- he was a great host. But one personality (using the word loosely) whom I have no reservations about adding to the top/bottom of this list was the man whom Chuck Barris originally named to be host of his infamous program The Gong Show.
You know Chuck Barris. You know that any "amateur hour" style program HE created would be a parody of the form. And with a celebrity lineup such as Jamie Farr, Jaye P. Morgan, Arte Johnson, et al, how could it have been otherwise??
No matter how Chuck went over it with him, John Barbour stubbornly clung to his delusion that he was the newest incarnation of Ted Mack and that The Gong Show was going to be the 'American Idol' of its day.
One weeks' worth of programs were taped, and Chuckie Baby scrapped 'em every one. With no time to spare, NBC was getting impatient and finally blurted out that if he wanted to kill those shows, it's fine, but unless Barris HIMself put on the tux and hosted Gong, NBC was going to ax the program.
Chuck became host (clap!) and the rest (clap!) is history (clap!). For the next several (clap!) years, The Gong Show became (cl-- fooled ya!) what Chuck called in (clap!) his book, his "nervous breakdown on national TV."
I have a copy of one of the unaired Barbour Gong episodes, and yes - it's that bad. You know the whole routine when one of the celebrities pulls a J. Arthur Rank on the gong behind 'em. Chuck acts all indignant, saying "Jaye P. Morgan! Why did you gong that organ grinding act?", setting them up to retort with a one-liner, i.e. "Because he played with his monkey one time too many."
Not Barbour. His reaction to acts being gonged was along the lines of "Why did you do that? That was a rude thing to do, that act rehearsed and practiced for hours for their shot at fame, and this is the thanks they get? How dare you??!!"
I hate that a clip hasn't found its way to YouTube yet. Maybe I'll have to be the one to do it.
So there you go. The Five worst in my dog-ear'ed, moth-eaten pages.
Ciao for niao, and stay tuned for Tattletales, next over most of these CBS stations!
--Talmadge "No Rice-A-Roni for the losers -- give 'em a box of Ramen noodles!" Gleck
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