As anyone who knows me well can attest to, I’m a HUGE fan of game shows. I will watch pretty much any game show that is on the air, and have recently begun watching Chain Reaction on the Game Show Network. The show itself is great (save for the retarded blindfolded bonus round), but the host is AWFUL. Unwatchably bad. So, I started thinking about my favorite game show hosts, and have come up with Matt Walker’s Comprehensive Guide to the Top 30 Game Show Hosts of All Time. Long title for this list? Yes. As we all know, I’m retarded. Now read away, watch the clips, and tell me what a loser I am for being able to even name 30+ game show hosts in the first place.

Notes: To put this list together, I arbitrarily decided that “reality shows” were disqualified as game shows. So Jeff Probst was ineligible for his work on Survivor, although he could have been included for Rock ‘n’ Roll Jeopardy. He didn’t make the cut in either case, since Rock ‘n’ Roll Jeopardy sucks my balls.

My criteria for a good game show host:
1) Fun to watch
2) Keeps the game moving along
3) Doesn’t get in the way of the game
4) Interacts well with the contestants
5) Doesn’t screw up the suspense of the game

This is why someone like Anne Robinson from The Weakest Link doesn’t make the cut- she made the show all about her, not the game. Save for a few rare exceptions, the game itself is the star, the host is just a supporting player.

Joe Garagiola missed the cut because he loved to kill the suspense on To Tell the Truth before they revealed who was lying and who was telling the truth. Bastard. I hate that. Go back to announcing baseball, you’re good at that.

Honorable Mention:
Meredith Viera, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?
OK, she’s really not that great, but I love it when people lose on the first question, and this was an excuse to include a video of just that happening.

Ben Stein, Win Ben Stein’s Money
The angle of playing against contestants was a great twist to the show, but his droll personality keeps Ben from cracking the list. Probably the smartest game show host in recent memory, you can watch him lose $5000 and actually appear upset, since that WAS money that would have been his.

Mel Peachy, Shandi Finnessey, and Hannah Peckham, Playmania
I know, you don’t know who they are. Hosts of Playmania on the Game Show Network (my current favorite show on TV), Shandi and Mel are a lot of fun to watch on a show that is essentially awful. OK, they’re just hot and I like to look at them. Hannah subbed for Mel one night, and is the host of the UK version of the show, Quiznation. She gets my vote as of September 2006 for hottest chick on the planet.

30) Louie Anderson, Family Feud
Louie was a decent host- as a comic he was quick witted, and if it wasn’t for him banging teenage boys he’d still be hosting it today. Richard Karn and John O’Hurley are terrible (especially in comparison to the far better hosts that made this list). I couldn’t find any videos of Louie in action as a host, so here’s a short video of him dancing from the credits.

29) Pat Sajak, Wheel of Fortune
Pat has always annoyed me as a host. He lucked into the best gig in all of television (taking over for Chuck Woolery as host of Wheel of Fortune) and is compensated incredibly well for it. Vannah White is what made the show take off. Begrudgingly I have to include Pat on my list due to longevity and the fact he hosts one of the most popular syndicated shows in history, but I still don’t like him. Here’s a clip of Pat Sajak introducing Vannah White on her first day, and a clip of him on his last day hosting the network version (which he left for his ill fated talk show). I bet he wiped his mouth after kissing Vannah, since I’m 100% sure he’s a homo.

28) Allen Ludden, Password/Password Plus
Allen met Betty White on his show and was married to her for 18 years (and the marriage only ended due to his untimely death). Password was an entertaining game, and Allen kept the game moving along and was quick witted enough to banter entertainingly with guests and celebrity panelists alike.

Here’s an interesting clip with George Peppard (Of A-Team fame and a Carnegie Mellon Alumnus) ranting about the legal aspects behind the scenes, and a clip with a guest taking a small spill. Watch how Allen takes George’s rant in stride, and immediately ridicules the contestant for the fall.

27) Jim Perry, Card Sharks
Jim was always a fun host for what is essentially a retarded game of Acey Duecy. He kept the game moving, and I always thought he must have been the host that Sesame Street modeled Guy Smiley after.

Here are two clips- one of Jim hosting Card Sharks, and one of Guy Smiley. You can’t tell me that’s not a puppet version of him.

26) Jack Barry, Jokers Wild, Twenty-One
Jack was an old school host, having worked on the show Twenty-One back in the days of the quiz show scandals with Charles Van Doren and Herb Stempel. Barry wasn’t involved in the rigging of the game, but once he found out, like Nixon, tried to cover it up. He eventually emerged from the scandal to host his own variety show in Los Angeles, and worked his way back to hosting game shows. He always made it seem like the game actually mattered, and treated the show seriously, no matter how ridiculous it is to spin slot machine reels to determine the category of trivia question you need to answer.

Here are two clips- the intro to the show, and one of a guest unnerving Jack by jokingly implying that the answer to a question was being given to her. Knowing his history, one can understand why he was jumpy.

25) Vicki Lawrence, Win, Lose, or Draw
As host of Win, Lose, or Draw, Vicki Lawrence was one of the only female hosts in a male dominated field. She was funny, entertaining, had a great grasp of game shows as a frequent panelist on Match Game, $25,000 Pyramid, and Password.

Here’s a clip of Vicki doing the in-show interview with a contestant and having some fun with his profession, and a clip of one of the best gimmicks the show had- letting audience members play if they had time at the end of the show.

24) John Davidson, Hollywood Squares, The $100,000 Pyramid
Best known for his stint as host of That’s Incredible, John Davidson hosted a version of the Hollywood Squares in the 1980s that followed the run of Peter Marshall’s versions. He was likeable, kept the game moving well, and didn’t get in the way that Tom Bergeron tends to do now.

Unable to find clips of him hosting, here’s a clip of John Davidson in a square with Alf filling in as host.

23) Tom Kennedy, Password Plus and Body Language
Tom took over for Allen Ludden on Password Plus when his health was waning, and became a favorite of mine when I watched him on Body Language (which was just a retarded version of charades on TV). He always reminded me of a really fun uncle- a guy that knew all the games, had an infectious laugh, and would keep you entertained constantly, yet you still weren’t sure if he was gay or a child molester.

Here he is on the intro to Password Plus (as well as the incredibly hot Audrey Landers), and trying to decipher what this contestant is saying on Body Language (watch for Ed Begley Jr. in his St. Elsewhere days at the very end of the clip).

22) Jim Lange, The Dating Game, $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime
Jim hosted the Dating Game through it’s initial run, and was host of the short lived Million Dollar Chance of a Lifetime. On the Dating Game he was always fun, and let the contestants show off their personalities. With celebrity guests frequently appearing on the show, some classic TV moments emerged from people such as Richard Dawson, Paul Lynde, and Michael Jackson. The Million Dollar Chance of a Lifetime was the first show to give away a prize of that amount, and had 9 grand prize winners. I always was irritated by the claim they made on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? that it was the biggest prize available in game shows, when 10 years earlier a million dollars was being given out. Oh well, no one but me was watching so it didn’t last very long.

Here he is at the beginning of the Dating Game in the 60’s. You have to love the tongue twisters near the end of the clip.

Click here for some screenshots of $1,000,000 Dollar Chance of a Lifetime

21) Bill Cullen, Blockbusters, The Price is Right, The Joker’s Wild, $25,000 Pyramid
There’s a reason that the Game Show Congress Hall of Fame named it’s career achievement award after Bill Cullen. The original host of The Price is Right, Bill was involved in game shows not just as a host, but as a panelist on I’ve Got a Secret and To Tell the Truth. He had a good announcers voice, and is probably the host that best made the transition from the 20 Questions variants (Truth, Secret, and What’s My Line?) to the more modern style show with all the lighting effects, cool music, and circus like sets.

I was a big fan of Blockbusters, which I can unfortunately not find any clips of online. Here’s a link to a page about Blockbusters.

Stay tuned- next week you can see numbers 20-11…