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Talk Show Pioneer Mike Douglas Dies

Aug 11, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Former daytime talk show host Mike Douglas died Friday on his 81st birthday in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Mr. Douglas hosted a daytime talk show for 21 years from 1961 to 1982, personifying the genial, friendly talk style also practiced by his contemporaries Merv Griffin and Dinah Shore.

Born Michael Dowd in Chicago in 1925, Mr. Douglas was a singer and World War II veteran who got his start in television on NBC’s “Kay Keyer’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge” in the 1940s. He dubbed the voice of Prince Charming in the 1950 animated feature “Cinderella,” according to the Web site IMDB.com.

“The Mike Douglas Show” incorporated Mr. Douglas’ musical skills with his ability to interview a variety of guests, from comedians and singers to politicians and novelty acts. A pre-school aged Tiger Woods appeared on the show in the 1970s alongside Bob Hope.

Mr. Douglas’s show won an Emmy in 1973 for outstanding program achievement in daytime.

In 1982 the show’s syndicator Group W replaced Mr. Douglas with singer John Davidson, who only lasted on the air a few years.

Mr. Douglas’ style seemed out of step with the shock talk of the late 1980s and early 1990s, but when Rosie O’Donnell launched her syndicated talk show for Warner Bros. in 1996, she pointed to Mr. Douglas as a role model. He was also a frequent guest on Ms. O’Donnell’s show.

He is survived by his wife Genevieve and his three daughters.