Chose the stage name 'Rayburn' by sticking his finger in a phone book.
Was of Croatian heritage and spoke Serbo-Croatian.
Attended Lindbloom High School in Chicago and Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois
His father died when he was still an infant
Has a daughter, Lynne Rayburn (born October 5, 1942).
Landed his first job as a page for NBC in New York City during the late 1930s
Succeeded Dick Van Dyke as Albert Peterson in the Broadway production of "Bye Bye Birdie" when Van Dyke departed in April of 1961.
Prior to becoming a game show host, he was a frequent light comedy star performer with the Bucks County Playhouse during the late 1950s and early 1960s. His vehicles included "The Love of Four Colonels" (1957), "Who Was That Lady I Saw You With?" (1959), "Come Blow Your Horn" (1960) and "Under the Yum Yum Tree" (1962).
He stated on an episode of Match Game that as a bombardier-navigator during World War II, he got airsick on every mission.
Was a liberal Democrat.
Even after most game shows moved production to Los Angeles in the 1970s, Rayburn never relocated to California, staying on the East Coast and commuting to Hollywood every 2 weeks to tape 2 weeks worth of episodes over a weekend (10 CBS daytime episodes, 2 nighttime syndication episodes).
Knitted socks as a gag for his show Rayburn and Finch. However, he became proficient in needlepoint and turned it into a regular hobby that he enjoyed doing on his many flights between New York and Los Angeles. Mark Goodson presented Gene with a knitting kit as a gift of thanks for making Match Game the number one daytime program on television.
Passed away at his daughter Lynne Rayburn's house.
Just before his death, he accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
At age 18, Rayburn moved to New York City, New York, in 1936, to pursue a career as a radio disc jockey and in Broadcasting.
Moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1972, and lived there for nearly 28 years.
His parents, Milan Rubessa and Mary Hikec Rubessa, were both Croatian immigrants.
Ranked #4 on Life's 15 Best Game Show Hosts.
While announcing at WGNY in Newburgh, New York, he met model, Helen Ticknor, who he later married in 1940.
Before he was a successful game show host, he worked as an announcer at WGNY Radio in Newburgh, New York, where he got paid $25 a week.
Dropped out of Knox College to move to New York City to pursue a career as an announcer.
Shortly after World War II had ended, he worked with Jack Lescoulie, before Dee Finch, on a morning radio show at WNEW in New York.
Ranked #2 as GSN's Top 10 Game Show Host of All Time.
Before he was a successful game show host, he used to host Today (1952) with Dave Garroway, who in turn was replaced by him, every once in a while.
Enlisted in the United States Army-Air Corps during World War II.
In high school, he acted in school plays.
Was employed at Mark Goodson-Bill Todman (later Mark Goodson Productions) from 1953 to 1984.
Long before Regis Philbin would become a successful talk show and game show host, he used to be Rayburn's page for Steve Allen's The Tonight Show (1953).
Friends with: Bob Barker, Bob Eubanks, Alex Trebek, Bill Cullen, Geoff Edwards, Wink Martindale, Bert Convy, Jim Perry, Betty White, Ed McMahon, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Steve Allen, Jo Anne Worley, Michele Lee, Julie London, Betsy Palmer, McLean Stevenson, Regis Philbin, Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, Don Pardo, Mark Goodson, Bill Todman, Dick Clark, Tom Kennedy, Jim Lange, Pat Sajak, Chuck Woolery and Monty Hall.
Best remembered by the public as the host of Match Game (1973).
Met future Match Game (1973) panelist Charles Nelson Reilly in the musical 'Bye, Bye Birdie.'.
Upon his death, he was cremated and his ashes were scattered over his daughter Lynne Rayburn's garden.
Before he was a successful game show host, he worked as an usher for the NBC symphony orchestra in New York.
Before he was a successful game show host, he was an announcer in his early days.
After his final game show 'The Movie Masters,' he retired from hosting game shows at age 71.
Made his very first appearance on Kukla, Fran and Ollie (1947).
Was Jonathan M. Goodson's and Chester Feldman's second choice to host the revamp version of Match Game (1990), replacing an ailing Bert Convy, but they were not interested in hiring him back, so they replaced him with comedian Ross Shafer.
Met Julie London when she was a guest on The Steve Allen Plymouth Show (1951), years later, London would reunite with Rayburn on Match Game (1973).
Rayburn's classic microphone got a lot of abuse from Gene using it as a sword, or a javelin. For a publicity shot, he put the mike in his teeth as if it was a long stemmed rose. Once during Match Game PM (1975), the cord completely came off of it, and they had to cut to commercial to give Gene a new mike. Once on Match Game (1973), instead of his usual mike, someone placed an old style radio mike on the desk. Richard Dawson explained that his usual mike was not working, and he had to use that old one. Gene was very amused and tried to pick it up. It was obviously very heavy, as he was hunched over trying to carry it! Meanwhile, Richard reached under the desk and revealed Gene's usual microphone, much to Gene's relief.
Fellow game show host Wink Martindale had a long-standing friendly feud with him, along with Chuck Woolery. Upon Rayburn's death in 1999, Martindale revealed that Rayburn and Woolery had conjured up his rather juvenile nickname of "Stink Fartindale," and would always fondly remember their times together.
Filled in for Bud Collyer for one episode of To Tell the Truth (1956).
He was reunited by ex-Match Game (1973) panelist, Charles Nelson Reilly, once more and worked together in "La Cage Aux Folles.".
GSN had aired segments of an interview they did with Rayburn, before his death, and aired them during a Match Game Marathon.
One of his panelists, Richard Dawson, allegedly feuded with Rayburn during production of Match Game (1973) prior to Dawson hosting Family Feud (1976).
His show's Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour (1983)'s musical cues, was later recycled over to The Price Is Right (1972), usually for use with cars and showcases, which still uses to this day. The show was formerly hosted by fellow game show host Bob Barker, before Drew Carey, took over.
At the beginning of the last year of Match Game (1973), the producers invented 'The Star Wheel.' This was because after Richard Dawson had left the show, a lot of Rayburn's winning contestants chose him in the bonus round, Head-To-Head Match.
Was fired from hosting the revival of Break the Bank (1985), after 15 weeks, when producer Richard S. Kline thought Rayburn was at fault for the show's low ratings. He was replaced by Joe Farago.
When he hosted the original The Match Game (1962), in the 1960s, Rayburn mentioned several times that he felt this game was better when he could simply get some laughs to keep it interesting, and that in the beginning, it was very restricting for him. Producer Mark Goodson was reluctant about Rayburn's show, being played for laughs, but Gene did try his best with these restrictions.
When he returned to host the revamp version of Match Game (1973), in the 1970s, Rayburn insisted that Mark Goodson allow the show to be played for laughs, Allowing him to get laughs in any possible way. Mark gave in, and hired comedy writers to write the questions.
Prior to hosting "The Sky's The Limit," which was produced by Bob Stewart, Rayburn broke his leg, leading to future game show host Monty Hall filling in for him.
Graduated from Lindblom Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois, in 1936.
Future radio disc jockey Howard Stern was said to be a fan of Rayburn's, while he was in college. Years later, Stern would appear alongside him on 'Homeless Squares.'.
At the beginning of the last year of Match Game (1973), the producers invented 'The Star Wheel.' This was why after Richard Dawson had left the show, a lot of Rayburn's winning contestants chose him in the bonus round, Head-To-Head Match.
Years before his retirement, he hosted the pilot of a Reg Grundy game show, 'Party Line,' that didn't air.
Prior to becoming a game show host, Rayburn was also an actor.
Just before his death, Rayburn visited with the panelists he'd gotten to know so well. In 1997, ex-panelist Brett Somers surprised him on Maury (1991), and Gene was elated to see her. Gene also sported one of his Match Game (1973) microphones, which was chrome plated. It would be the last time they appeared together on TV.
In the many appearances Rayburn made on talk shows and specials, fans could count on seeing Gene's "pretty nipples" blooper which was edited out of the original broadcast, and the "cuckoo friend and Ollie" answer. Even though he must've seen the nipples blooper many times, he still looked incredibly embarrassed after they showed it. Gene always spoke fondly of Brett and Charles, but never spoke of Richard Dawson except for a TV Guide interview. He acknowledged that in the beginning, Richard was very funny, and they were friends, but when Family Feud (1976) became a hit, he said Richard became a "loner with a very large ego".
When Rayburn was hired to host the revamp version of Break the Bank (1985), he became very unhappy with the format and looked very embarrassed by the stunts in the prize vault, which typically involved finding flowers in pop up snake cans and tongue twisters. Also, in the early shows, Gene looked lost in that prize vault, trying to locate the stunts. Gene wasn't brief enough about the stunts either, because he was obviously reading the description of the stunt for the first time. Because of this, the producers decided to stop the clock so that Gene didn't have to rush through describing how to do each stunt.
In the early 1960s, Rayburn had hosted the weekend radio program, 'Monitor.' Other emcees hosted the radio show were: 'Bill Cullen (I)', Ed McMahon, Monty Hall, Garry Moore and Art Fleming.
Was not Mark Goodson's first choice for the original The Match Game (1962). According to producer Robert Noah, he said people at NBC were always wondering why they couldn't get somebody better than Rayburn to do that show.
When he was on The Tonight Show (1953), he appeared in many of the show's skits with the comedians Louis Nye and Buddy Hackett.
Along with former radio partner, Dee Finch, Rayburn also boosted the singing career of Teresa Brewer.
Before he was a successful game show host, he also hosted a morning program on NBC radio in the early 1950s.
After World War II began, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and became a pilot, bombardier and instructor.
Before he was a successful game show host, he was also a radio disc jockey.
Rayburn was born in Christopher, Illinois, but later, lived with his family in Chicago, Illinois.
At one point he wanted to take voice lessons in order to become an opera singer, but a lack of money forced him to find something else.
Was idolized by: Bob Eubanks, Bob Goen, Pat Finn, Chuck Woolery, Graham Elwood, Todd Newton, Howard Stern and Wink Martindale.
Everytime he made his entrance to the set of Match Game (1973), he would fly, skip and romp.
Was very unhappy while hosting in Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour (1983), especially when the panel has none of the original regulars at all. Also, they had to finish an entire game in half an hour to give equal time for Hollywood Squares, and the crazy antics that happened on the original Match Game didn't happen as much. Worst of all, without a regular panel, he had no chance to develop a rapport for the panelists, especially since the panelist's seating positions changed daily (Charles Nelson Reilly was usually in his spot, however, and Jon remained in the lower tier, far left) and the panelists weren't always 3 males and 3 females.
His favorite game show to date was Match Game (1973).
Gene Rayburn passed away on November 29, 1999. Just before his death, he did some promos for Bobcat's Big Ass Show (1998), for F/X Channel.
Had commuted from his home in Massachusetts to Los Angeles, every weekend for 11 years to host Match Game (1973), before Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour (1983).
Like fellow game show hosts Bob Barker and Geoff Edwards, Rayburn was one of the game show hosts to use a cordless mic-top.
Met his successor Ross Shafer on The Late Show (1986), before replacing him as the host of the revamp version of Match Game (1990).
One of his earliest roles on Broadway was in the Neil Simon play "Come Blow Your Horn". The play was somewhat biographical of Neil Simon, and Gene portrayed Neil's father.
Met fellow game show host, Bill Cullen, while the two were under contract with Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions (later Mark Goodson Productions) in 1953. The two became friends until Cullen's own death in 1990.
During his time in the Air Force, Rayburn was trained in meteorology and occasionally demonstrated his knowledge of the weather on Match Game (1973).
Appeared on Fantasy Island (1977) as a game-show host, Rayburn and another host played by Jan Murray. were game show rivals who vied to win the woman they both loved by creating the ultimate game show, with life-or-death consequences.
Made numerous guest appearances on The Love Boat (1977), including one with Fannie Flagg, who was one of his panelists on Match Game (1973).
Like fellow game show hosts Bill Cullen, Bob Barker, Geoff Edwards and Wink Martindale, Rayburn was known to be a very busy television personality.
Longtime friends of Julie London, Vicki Lawrence, Bob Barker, Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly.
His wife, Helen Ticknor, died late in 1996.
He was known to be a very private man.
Just before his death, his last TV appearance was a 1998 interview with Access Hollywood (1996) intended to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the hit CBS game show Match Game (1973). Portions of the interview have been rebroadcast on the Game Show Network, which in 2001, showed portions of another previously unaired interview during the first airing of its Match Game Blankathon.
Replaced Jim McKay for the last nine episodes of Make the Connection (1955).
According to former production assistant, Roger Dobkowitz, he said Rayburn was not a surrogate uncle, far from it. Unfortunately, in real-life, he was a very self-centered and selfish man, when out in Los Angeles to do Match Game (1973) on weekends he would generally kept to himself, and a "friend".
Stated on his show that he had studied four years as a pre-med student.