TV Pioneer Ralph Edwards Dead at 92

Nov 16, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Ralph Edwards, the pioneering television host and producer whose most memorable turn came as host of the hit 1950s show “This Is Your Life,” died Wednesday at his home in West Hollywood, Calif. He was 92.

Mr. Edwards, who began his broadcasting career as a radio skit writer in 1929, also created the hit audience-participation game show “Truth or Consequences,” which ran for 38 years.

Mr. Edwards created “This Is Your Life,” as a spinoff of “Truth” and found his niche as the show’s amiable host, leading people down memory lane with the help of off-stage mystery guests. He hosted “This Is Your Life” on radio from the late 1940s until it moved to television in 1952 and remained the show’s host during its nine-year run on NBC. Mr. Edwards also hosted a syndicated version from 1971-1973. The show appeared again in syndication, hosted by Joseph Campanella, in 1983-84, and several “This Is Your Life” specials followed.

Mr. Edwards, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, worked at an Oakland, Calif., radio station as a teenager. He later moved to New York and was hired as an announcer at CBS Radio in 1936 for shows such as “Major Bowes’ Amateur Hour” and “Town Hall Tonight.”

After selling the idea for “Truth or Consequences” to NBC in 1940, Mr. Edwards hosted the quiz show’s first season. “Truth,” with its tricky questions and silly stunt “consequences,” was an immediate success. The show made its television debut in 1950.

As the head of Ralph Edwards Productions, he produced more than 20 television shows, including “Place the Face” and “$100,000 Name That Tune,” and continued to spend time at his Hollywood office until he was 90. In 2001, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored Mr. Edwards with a lifetime achievement award.

Mr. Edwards’ wife, Barbara, died in 1993 after more than 50 years of marriage. He is survived by his three children, Gary Edwards, Lauren Lenhart and Christine Tandy; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.