Hugh Downs, Former Today Host, Dead at 99

Former Today show host Hugh Downs died peacefully in his Arizona home at the age of 99, according to a statement from his family

By Cydney Contreras Jul 02, 2020 8:10 PMTags
Hugh DownsErik Pendzich/Shutterstock

Former Today show host Hugh Downs died on Wednesday at the age of 99.

Downs' great-niece Molly Shaheen said in a statement that her great-uncle died "peacefully" while surrounded by his loved ones at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. where he retired to follow his departure from 20/20 in 1999.

The Emmy Award-winning broadcaster celebrated his 99th birthday in February.

The former Today show host's career began in Chicago when he joined NBC as a newscaster. His talent as a journalist eventually landed him a role as newscaster for the famous morning show in 1962. In his role, he kept Americans informed of historic moments taking place across the country, including the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Downs was also one of the first of the Today show hosts to straddle the line between newscaster and interviewer. 

Not to mention, Downs juggled his role on the Today show with his gig as host of the competition series Concentration.

Celebrity Deaths: 2020's Fallen Stars

Following his departure from Today in 1971, Downs took on varying roles throughout the years, like game show host and a Tonight Show sidekick, but he's most remembered for his work with Barbara Walters on 20/20. He anchored the show for 21 years, until his retirement in 1999.

Watch: In Memoriam: Fallen Stars of 2020

The New York Times reports he's survived by his two children Deidre and H.R., a brother, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

(E! News and Today are members of the NBCUniversal family.)