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Match Gamewas the TV game show that defined the 1970s, with ribald jokes, tacky fashions, and guest appearances by the decade's top television stars. It was also the TV show that defined its host, Gene Rayburn. Generations of game show watchers will instantly recognize Rayburn--the toothy grin and the comically long, thin microphone that he clutched while reading suggestive fill-in-the-blanks to be answered by panelists like Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly.
But the bookThe Matchless Gene Rayburn, by Adam Nedeff (Quizmaster: The Life & Times & Fun & Games of Bill Cullen,This Day in Game Show History) delves into Rayburn's life before the classic show, from his popular and influential morning radio show--one interviewee called Rayburn The Howard Stern of the 1940s --to his role in launchingThe Tonight Show. Rayburn also amassed an impressive resum in theater, includingBye Bye BirdieandLa Cage Aux Folles.
In addition,The Matchless Gene Rayburnexplores Rayburn's life away from the cameras, including his fractious relationships withMatch Gamepanelist Richard Dawson and game show kingpin Mark Goodson, as well as his struggles finding employment afterMatch Gameended.
Among the interviewees that author Nedeff spoke to for the book wereMatch Gamepanelists Orson Bean & Dick Gautier,Hollywood Squareshost Peter Marshall, animal trainer Warren Eckstein (The Mickey Mouse Club), and Rayburn 's daughter Lynne. All paint a portrait of Gene as a complicated man torn by the success he enjoyed in television, and the frustration he felt about not getting the roles he truly wanted or the respect he felt he was owed.