Hugh Downs – Local Celebrity

Hugh DownsHugh Downs is a retired long-term American broadcaster, TV host, news anchor, producer, author and game show host.  The Legendary television broadcaster, whose name is bestowed for ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication is a resident of Paradise Valley.

Malcom Hugh Downs was born on February 14th, 1921 in Akron, Ohio to Edith and Milton Howard Downs. He attended school at Lima Shawnee High School in Lima, Ohio; Bluffton College, a Mennonite school in Bluffton, Ohio; and Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. After his first year of college, he worked as a radio announcer and program director at WLOK in Lima, Ohio. Downs then served in the United States Army during World War II. In 1943 he joined the NBC radio network at WMAQ as an announcer in Chicago, Illinois, where he lived until 1954. In 1944 he married co-worker, Ruth Shaheen, whom he later had two children with. Downs also attended Columbia University in New York City during 1955–56.

Downs hosted NBC’s Today Show for nine years from September 1962 to October 1971. During that time, he also hosted the original version of the game show Concentration, as well as appearing as a panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth. While Downs was hosting Over Easy, a PBS television program about aging that aired from 1977 to 1983, he earned a postgraduate degree in gerontology (study of the social, cultural, psychological, cognitive, and biological aspects of Ageing) from Hunter College.

In his later years, he became well known as the Emmy Award winning co-anchor (with Barbary Walters) of the ABC news TV show 20/20, a primetime news magazine program. Downs co-anchored 20/20 from the show’s second episode in 1978 until his retirement in 1999. Most recently, Downs has appeared in local public service announcements for Arizona Motor Vehicles Division and for Hospice of the Valley, a Phoenix-area non-profit organization specializing in hospice care.

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