The game show is a staple of American television. No matter the theme, game shows — whether aired day or night — have always captivated television audiences.
Of course, the host has a lot to do with a game show's success. Some of the greats have become even bigger stars than some actors. Here's a look at our rankings of the top 25 game show hosts of all time.
There have been several famous hosts of "Family Feud," but funnyman Harvey has more than held his own. In fact, the show has thrived since Harvey took over as host in 2010. He also hosts the celebrity version of the show, which is actually quite fun. Though, we like Harvey when he's playing along with the antics of the everyday contestants.
As the story goes, Mandel initially turned down the job as host of "Deal or No Deal." He finally gave in during the middle of the last decade. Though Mandel was still active within Hollywood when he took the job, his gig as host of this show revived his career. In fact, he's probably more popular now than during his time on "St. Elsewhere" in the 1980s or as a standup comedian.
Is there a tougher host in the history of game shows than Robinson? At times she was downright ruthless while hosting the popular British quiz game "The Weakest Link" from 2000-2012. Never shy about putting down those contestants who lacked a certain amount of intellect, Robinson also had no problem poking fun at herself.
Philbin is one of the most recognizable entertainers on the planet. His popularity rose while hosting the uber-successful American version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," beginning in the late 1990s. Though Philbin's wit and good nature played well as a game-show host, we still think he was at his best as a talk show host — where he could let loose a little more.
Marx was one of the greatest entertainers of all time, and that included his time early on as one of the top game show hosts. Marx led the way on the popular radio game show-turned-television-hit "You Bet Your Life." While this was a game show, one of its most popular features was Marx's comedic interaction with the contestants, which often was the highlight of a given episode.
Gen-Xers had a game-show hero in the late Ken Ober. Though he hosted a few other such shows during his career, Ober's claim to fame came as the ringleader of MTV's "Remote Control" (1987-1990). The pop culture trivia show was staged in the basement of Ober's parents' fictional house. The show also featured a couple of relative no-names at the time: Colin Quinn and Adam Sandler.
One of the more versatile entertainers of the 1960s into the '80s, Convy was the host of such game show hits as "Tattletales," "Super Password" and "Win, Lose or Draw, the latter of which was like playing a game of Pictionary, which always made for a good time. If Convy wasn't hosting a game show, he was probably guest starring on "The Love Boat."
He was the guy who oversaw contestants trying to win "big bucks" while avoiding that whammy on the popular 1980s hit "Press Your Luck." Tomarken was not flashy; he was just solid and let the board and contestants remain in the forefront of the show. Tomarken and his wife were killed when the private plane he was flying crashed near the Santa Monica Bay in 2006.
Barris, who died in 2017 at age 87, made his game show living in front and behind the cameras. He created such classics as "The Dating Game" and "The Newlywed Game." However, America also became familiar with Barris as host of the kooky, often absurd talent show-style hit known as "The Gong Show." He also wrote, directed and starred in "The Gong Show Movie" (1980), but we won't talk about that.
Speaking of "The Dating Game," its host during the glory days was the laid-back yet casually witty Lange. He made quite a career out of trying to get love-hungry men and women to find that perfect someone, hosting the campy but popular show from 1965-1980. Lange also hosted later versions of "Name That Tune" and "The Newlywed Game."
Barry was not only a famous game show host, but he also was the most infamous in the history of the television genre. Barry was part of the famed quiz show scandal of the late 1950s, specifically covering up the rigging of the show "Twenty-One," which he hosted. The fallout from the scandal followed Barry around for years, but he managed to bounce back and revive his career thanks to creating and hosting "The Joker's Wild."
The man who made family game show fun, Summers hit it big when he got the gig as host of the Nickelodeon smash "Double Dare," beginning in 1986. He led kids, and even their parents, through all those crazy and fluid-filled physical challenges and obstacle courses. Viewers, no matter what age, could not seem to get enough.
Anybody named "Wink" deserves a spot on our list. The truth is that Martindale is one of the best in the business. The host of such classics as "Tic-Tac-Dough," "Gambit" and "High Rollers," Martindale was even honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006. He was also one of the first to be inducted into the American TV Game Show Hall of Fame —yes, there is such a thing.
Perry hosted two of the most popular game shows around in "Card Sharks" and "$ale of the Century." While he might not have enjoyed the same level of success as others during the 1980s, Perry was a solid host. He had a knack for bringing out the drama in a game, but he also added a comedic touch while playing off his contestants' antics.
Popularly known as the "Dean of Game Show Hosts," Cullen reportedly hosted more than 20 game shows during a television career that covered five decades. He was host of the music-themed "Name That Tune" and the first to guide the ship of "The Price Is Right." Some of his lesser known hosting gigs included "Blankety Blanks" and "Hot Potato."
With Sajak it's all about longevity. He's hosted the international smash "Wheel of Fortune" since 1981 and has been able to venture out into other entertainment areas because of that gig. Sidekick and letter-turner (now tapper) Vanna White has played a big part in assisting his career and the success of perhaps the most popular game show of all time.
Clark had his hand in just about anything television-related, so why not game shows? He was the first host of "The $10,000 Pyramid," which was a consistent hit, along with the various versions that followed. It was always fun to see Clark chat with the contestants leading into the commercial breaks, along with offering clues to how they might have come up with the intended phrase or question.
Ludden hosted a handful of different game shows during his television career, but it was the classic "Password" and its various incarnations and spinoffs where he hit it big both professionally and personally. Ludden met his second wife, the great Betty White, who was often a contestant on the show. It just proves that game shows aren't just for entertainment purposes.
Though Woolery is most well-known as the host of 1980s-90s staple "Love Connection," some forget he was the original host of "Wheel of Fortune" back when contestants went shopping for prizes. He also hosted the TV version of "Scrabble," but Woolery was still at his best comically, working his way through failed dates and relationships. "We'll be back in two and two."
If we're looking for someone to make a deal, Hall was our man. Although today's youth likely associates "Let's Make a Deal" with current host Wayne Brady, it was Hall who was a co-creator and longtime host of the the wacky game show where costume-clad contestants looked to make deals for the most cash or best prizes. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
While most of the names on this list hosted multiple game shows, Eubanks is known specifically for moderating the madness that was "The Newlywed Game." The man who helped make the word "whoopy" a naughty term was also an agitator for the naive couples who thought they knew everything about their spouses. And we loved every minute.
From his trademark skinny microphone to the way he said the word "blank" out of the side of his mouth, Rayburn is certainly game show royalty. He was the ringmaster of the hilarious "Match Game" for more than two decades. While regular panelists such as Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers often stole the show, Rayburn could more than hold his own from a comedy standpoint.
We would love to find the statistics on just how many women Dawson kissed while hosting "Family Feud — during two stints. Dawson, who starred in "Hogan's Heroes" and was also on the "Match Game" panel, was the "Feud's" original host in 1976 and won a Daytime Emmy Award. Oh yeah, he also got to kiss all those ladies for luck.
There might not be a more respected game show host than Trebek. Since the revival of "Jeopardy!" in 1984, Trebek has been the guiding force for what some consider to be the greatest game show of all time. Yes, we know Trebek has all the answers (or questions in this case), thanks to a crack research group, but he's kind of like America's favorite teacher — though he is Canadian. Our admiration for Trebek grew when he announced in early 2019 that he was battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
It can be argued that Barker, who hosted the "The Price Is Right" from 1972-2007, became bigger than arguably the greatest game show in history. Barker was not over the top; his mannerisms and wittiness were spot on. He welcomed every kiss and hug and always reminded us to help control the pet population by getting our pets spayed and neutered. Plus, he went toe-to-toe with Happy Gilmore, in his spare time.
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.