Jim Lange

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Before The Bachelor and Bachelorette and all the tawdry looking-for-love shows on the air today, there was The Dating Game, hosted by Jim Lange.

On Tuesday, sadly, the former ABC personality died of a heart attack at his home in Mill Valley, Calif., his wife Nancy Fleming said, per USA Today. He was 81.

Lange hosted The Dating Game from its debut in 1965 through 1985. His hosting tenure included many celebrity guests as contestants, including Michael Jackson, Steve Martin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Burt Reynolds, Tom Selleck and a pre-Charlie's Angels Farrah Fawcett.

After Lange stepped down from The Dating Game, he went on to host Hollywood Connection, $100,000 Name That Tune and The New Newlywed Game. He also worked as a disc jockey in L.A. and the San Francisco area, which, his wife said even was his "real love," despite being widely known for his television work.

Lange spoke to this in a 1992 interview with the Bay Area Radio Digest, saying, "Radio is the theater of the mind. You're on your own. You don't have to worry about lighting directors and cameramen or script writers and all that. Good radio is still the most fun. It always will be. Plus, you don't have to wear makeup and you don't have to shave."

But he was grateful for The Dating Game, too, saying the show "sent all my kids to college," and glad for "the fact that the thing is kind of legendary now."

"I mean, you know you're legendary when you've been satirized by Saturday Night Live and Johnny Carson," he said.

He will most certainly be remembered.

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