Ralph Edwards was born near Merino, Colorado, in 1913, moving with his family to Oakland, California, when he was 12. He worked his way through college at radio stations in Oakland and San Francisco, graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1935 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama. Edwards moved to New York in 1936 and became one of radio's busiest announcers, doing as many as 45 network shows a week. In 1940, in response to this hectic pace, Edwards created, produced and hosted the landmark audience participation show "Truth or Consequences".
The show's great popularity led to his appearance in the Lucille Ball-Victor Mature film Seven Days' Leave (1942). He moved the show and his production company to Hollywood in 1945, where he made three more films for RKO: Radio Stars on Parade (1945), The Bamboo Blonde (1946) and Beat the Band (1947), all with Frances Langford. His big-screen career took a decided back seat in 1948, when Edwards first brought to the air his other long-running show, This Is Your Life (1950). On radio for its first two years, Edwards took the program to NBC-TV in 1952, where it remained until 1961, winning two Emmys (he also hosted a syndicated version from 1971-1973). His last feature film appearance came in the Susan Hayward MGM bio-pic of Lillian Roth, I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955), which ends with a recreation of Roth's appearance on This Is Your Life (1950).
Edwards' television career began in earnest in 1950, when The New Truth and Consequences (1950) aired one season on CBS-TV and earned the first Emmy awarded for an audience participation show. He turned over host duties to Jack Bailey in 1954 and, in 1956, launched the career of Bob Barker as host of the daytime version. Edwards, also well-known for his extensive charitable and philanthropic activities, became one of TV's most prolific producers.