Mental Floss

The Secret Lives of Game Show Hosts

Kara Kovalchik
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They've got gleaming, flawless teeth, hair that could withstand hurricane-force winds and emotions that run high when giving away a case of Turtle Wax. But scratch just below the surface of a classic game show host, and you may be surprised at what you find.

Regis Philbin

When you think of "Regis Philbin" and "game show," the first thing that probably comes to mind is Who Wants to be a Millionaire. But Reeg's first venture into the world of consolation prizes was a short-lived 1975 show called The Neighbors. The premise was loosely based on The Newlywed Game; the panel consisted of five women (because females are the only ones who gossip, apparently) who lived in the same neighborhood. Two of the women were contestants and had to guess which one was the subject of the juicy secrets dished by the remaining three. The Neighbors lasted approximately as long as Regis' hepcat singing career, which his former boss, Joey Bishop, praised as "giving hope to lots of people who can't sing."

Wink Martindale

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Wink Martindale's face is as memorable as his name; he's hosted some 19 different game shows over the years, including Gambit, Tic-Tac-Dough and Debt. Winston Martindale was only 17 years old when he got his first job "“ a disc jockey for WHBQ in Memphis, Tennessee. Wink was the morning man at the radio station, and the evening DJ had a program that featured what was then called "race music:" R&B and dance songs played by African-American artists. One day in 1956 Sam Phillips of Sun Records arrived at WHBQ with a single called "Heartbreak Hotel" by a white artist who sounded black, and after hearing it Wink invited the singer, Elvis Presley, to appear on his local TV show called Teenage Dance Party. That June 16, 1956, interview marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship between the King of Rock and Roll and the game show legend.

Bob Eubanks

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Peter Tomarken

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Jack Narz

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Colin Emm

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