A new book examines the life and career of Gene Rayburn, primarily known as host of "Match Game," who also pioneered late night television and morning drive radio.
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GLENDALE, CA— "Match Game" was the TV game show that defined the 1970s, with ribald jokes, tacky fashions, and guest appearances by the decade’s top television stars. It was also the TV show that defined its host, Gene Rayburn. Generations of game show watchers will instantly recognize Rayburn—the toothy grin and the comically long, thin microphone that he clutched while reading suggestive fill-in-the-blanks to be answered by panelists like Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly.
But the new book "The Matchless Gene Rayburn," by Adam Nedeff ("Quizmaster: The Life & Times & Fun & Games of Bill Cullen," "This Day in Game Show History") delves into Rayburn’s life before the classic show, from his popular and influential morning radio show—one interviewee called Rayburn “The Howard Stern of the 1940s”—to his involvement in launching "The Tonight Show." Rayburn also amassed an impressive resumè in theater, including starring roles in "Bye Bye Birdie" and "La Cage Aux Folles."
In addition, "The Matchless Gene Rayburn" explores Rayburn’s life away from the cameras, including his fractious relationships with "Match Game" panelist Richard Dawson and game show kingpin Mark Goodson, as well as his struggles finding employment after "Match Game" ended.
Among the interviewees that author Nedeff spoke to for the book were "Match Game" panelists Orson Bean & Dick Gautier, "Hollywood Squares" host Peter Marshall, animal trainer Warren Eckstein ("The Mickey Mouse Club"), and Rayburn ’s daughter Lynne. All paint a portrait of Gene as a complicated man torn by the success he enjoyed in television, and the frustration he felt about not getting the roles he truly wanted or the respect he felt he was owed. The book is available at bearmanormedia.com, and in paperback and Kindle format at amazon.com.