Announcer Gene Rayburn

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on October 5, 2003

I would like to know about Gene Rayburn, the host of Match Game. Let me know if he is alive and if he is married and has children.
— Leona W., Florida

Sadly, Gene Rayburn passed away in 1999 at the age of 81. His wife, Helen, died three years before he did and they have one daughter, Lynne. You can still catch reruns of his most popular game show, The Match Game, on the Game Show Network. Rayburn was born in Christopher, Ill., (pop. 2,836) and moved to New York City to pursue a career as an opera singer. When that didn't work out, he attended an announcer's school, and after serving in World War II, got a job as a page for NBC. Eventually he worked his way up in television, getting his first big break when he was hired to be the announcer for The Tonight Show with Steve Allen. He hosted a number of game shows, but The Match Game, which began in 1962 and—aside from a three-year break—ran for nearly 20 years, was the one that stuck. And here's an interesting fact: the ultra-slim, long microphone that Rayburn used on the show—he invented it.