Game shows have been around since before technicolor and so, too, their iconic hosts. Without a great host, there can be no great show. We love them for their sparkling, contagious smiles and their effervescent personalities. Without further ado, here are five hosts whose legacies we hope stick around for whatever comes after technicolor.
Jeopardy! has been around since 1964, although its most iconic host has been around since its revival in 1984. Everybody’s favorite Canadian-American has continued to be a ray of light on the show, even through his brush with prostate cancer. He says, “I think what makes Jeopardy! special is that, among all the quiz and game shows out there, ours tends to reward and encourage learning.”
Trebek is so good at his role, he’s won five Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Game Show Host and even a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He also boasts the impressive Guinness World Record for Most Game Show Episodes Hosted by the Same Presenter, coming in at almost 8,000 episodes.
In 2013, he was named a member of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, in 2017, he was named an officer of the Order of Canada, his native country’s second-highest civilian honor, and in 2018, he and Jeopardy! were inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
But that’s not all. The list grows with the honor of a coveted star on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Canadian Walk of Fame as well as a Peabody Award for “encouraging, celebrating and rewarding knowledge.” To top it all off, Trebek uses his fame to travel to third world countries to provide humanitarian aid.
Trivia fans in the late 1990s and early 2000s will recognize Regis as the iconic face of Who Wants to be a Millionaire (the American adaption of the original British version). Although the show lived a brief stint of popularity before declining, his time hosting the show won him a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host. His magnetic personality also landed him a place on Time’s 2007 article “15 Best Game Show Hosts in History” and the show earned a spot in GSN’s Game Show Hall of Fame.
Although many of us know Philbin from Millionaire or Live with Regis and Kelly, others might recognize him from his earlier appearances in several ABC game shows beginning in the mid-70s. You may even recognize him from an appearance on celebrity Jeopardy!. In fact, he holds the record for most celebrity appearances as a contestant on Jeopardy!. His love for Trivia doesn’t end there; he also appeared as a contestant on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
It’s hard to hear the phrase “Is that your final answer?” without thinking of Philbin and the dramatic tension of waiting to hear if a contestant would advance or lose it all. Whether we’re phoning a friend or choosing a 50/50, Regis will always be the voice in our head narrating our Trivia experience.
Today, many watch Family Feud and associate it with Steve Harvey’s sass. However, for many longtime fans, Richard Dawson holds the title for the iconic personality to pave the way for modern Family Feud.
The famous British host began his climb to fame as an actor in the popular television series Hogan’s Heroes. After the show ended in 1971, he took a role as a panelist on the ever popular Match Game. It was during his time on Match Game that he started his role as host of Family Feud.
Dawson cemented the original Family Feud’s fame with his trademark of kissing all of the female contestants, which many thought made it a warm, family show, although today it exists in infamy among conspiracy theorists and true crime lovers alike.
Dawson hosted the show until the mid 90’s before stepping down and moving to other endeavors. He remained a household name among those who grew up with the original iteration of the show until his passing in 2012.
Although he has become infamous in recent history for his big flub in announcing the winner of Miss Universe in 2017, Steve Harvey remains a beloved member of the Family Feud community. We love him for his humor and the faces he gives us to use as reaction memes.
Our favorite Family Feud host began his stage career in stand-up comedy, unfortunately remaining homeless for a time until he got a break in the Kings of Comedy tour, which was later compiled into a DVD by Spike Lee. He then appeared in a few feature films in the early 2000s. He later released a book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man and, along with its resulting screen adaption, it further catapulted Harvey into becoming a household name.
He scored the role of Family Feud host in 2010 and played an integral part in significantly improving the show’s ratings. With his contract extending into 2021, Harvey is expected to usurp Dawson as the longest running host of the show.
Since his debut on Family Feud, Harvey has earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, two Daytime Emmy awards for Outstanding Game Show Host, an NAACP award for his game show hosting, among many others. He uses his fame in philanthropic efforts to give back to young children in need. We hope to keep seeing his bright smile and sense of humor for many years to come.
Famously known for her acerbic way of dealing information out as a journalist and television presenter, Anne Robinson’s straight-faced role as host of The Weakest Link will forever hide out in the back corners of our mind, waiting to step forward when we find ourselves randomly remembering the show. Who could ever forget the famous “Queen of Mean”?
In the beginning Robinson worked as a journalist for news agencies, including Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Times, Today, and The Daily Telegraph. She got her start on television in a long-running British series called Watchdog for several years, until she scored the hosting role for BBC’s The Weakest Link, as well as NBC’s American counterpart, Weakest Link.
We could never forget Robinson’s cold and, frankly, kind of hilarious way of dismissing people from the show with a curt “goodbye”. In fact, we’d be lying if we never joked with a friend and declared “You are the weakest link!” to them. Although the show aired its final episode in 2017, we won’t soon forget the harshly lit, foreboding character that Anne Robinson presented as the host.
Whether you’re a religious watcher of game shows or just a fan of Trivia in general, there’s someone on this list that everyone can recognize. From memes to infamous trademarks to iconic catchphrases, our favorite game show hosts become a part of our lives through our nightly or weekly experiences with them in our living room or wherever we decide to tune in. There’s no doubt that these five hosts won’t soon be forgotten and will always have a place in our Trivia-loving hearts.