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Hugh Downs has enjoyed a distinguished 64-year career in radio and television as a reporter, newscaster, interviewer, narrator and host. A longtime anchor of ABC's primetime news magazine "20/20," he is one of the most familiar figures in the history of the medium.
He hosted PBS' "Live from the Lincoln Center" for a decade, helped launch "The Tonight Show" in 1957, anchored "The Today Show" from 1962 to 1971, and has broadcast numerous specials and documentaries. In 1985, he was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as holding the record for the greatest number of hours on network commercial television. In the course of his career he has broadcast from every continent and both poles. Downs left "20/20" in September 1999 to write and lecture.
The recipient of six Emmy Awards, Downs has been honored by a wide variety of organizations. In 1998, he received the Lowell Thomas Broadcast Journalism Award from the International Platform Association. ARA Living Services presented him with their 1991 National Media Award for "excellence in long-term healthcare reporting." In 1990 he was presented with the Broadcaster of the Year Award by the International Radio and Television Society for his many achievements in both media.
In 1986 he was awarded the National Headliner Award by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. He was also the recipient of the 1985 Award of Merit from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. That same year he was honored in the National Council on Family Relations film awards competition for his "20/20" report, "Diet Unto Death: Anorexia Nervosa." And in 1982, Downs was the recipient of the Carr Van Anda Award for "enduring contribution to journalism" from the Ohio University School of Journalism, as well as the Emerson College Joseph E. Connor Award.
Downs is the author of ten books, including his autobiography "Yours Truly, Hugh Downs". "Rings Around Tomorrow" is a collection of science articles he published in magazines; "A Shoal of Stars" is his account of sailing a small ketch across the Pacific; "Potential" is a psychological study of emotional maturing; and "Thirty Dirty Lies About Old" debunks the myths of aging. His other books include "On Camera: My 10,000 Hours on Television;" "The Best Years Book" and "Fifty to Forever," manuals on planning for later years; "Perspectives," a wide-ranging collection of radio commentaries he broadcast on ABC network radio; and "Pure Gold," a book on marital longevity Downs co-wrote with his wife. His most recent book, "My America: What My Country Means to Me," is an anthology of 150 essays from prominent Americans following the 9-11 tragedy of 2001.
A native of Akron, Ohio, Downs attended Bluffton College, Wayne University (now Wayne State), and Columbia University. He holds a Post Masters degree in gerontology from Hunter College, as well as honorary doctorates from St. Johns' University, the University of Maryland, Daniel Webster College in New Hampshire and Hunter College of the City University of New York.
Downs received a Certificate in Geriatric Medicine for Continuing Medical Education Geriatric Review Course at Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York. He has also served as a member of the Board of Overseers of the Brookdale Center on Aging of Hunter College. From 1978 to 1998 Downs was chair of the U.S. Committee for UNICEF.