Jim Lange | 'Dating Game' host, 81
Jim Lange, 81, the first host of the popular game show The Dating Game, died Tuesday at his home in Mill Valley, Calif., after a heart attack, his wife, Nancy, said.
Though Mr. Lange had a successful career in radio, he is best known for his work on ABC's The Dating Game, which debuted in 1965 and on which he appeared for more than a decade, charming audiences with his mellifluous voice and wide, easygoing grin. He also was host to many celebrity guests. Michael Jackson and Steve Martin, among others, were contestants. Even a pre-Charlie's Angels Farrah Fawcett appeared on the program.
The show's format: a young man or woman questions three people of the opposite sex, hidden from view, to determine which one would be the best date. The questions were designed by the show's writers to elicit sexy answers.
Mr. Lange was born in St. Paul, Minn., where at 15 he discovered a passion for local radio after winning an audition at a local station.
His big break on network TV came in 1962, when he was made an announcer and sidekick on The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show.
He also hosted the game shows Hollywood Connection, $100,000 Name That Tune, and The New Newlywed Game.
Mr. Lange, a disc jockey for decades in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, retired from broadcasting in 2005.
"As much as he's known for his television work, his real love was radio," his wife said. - AP