The Hosts of Concentration

Concentration hosts: Bob Clayton, Hugh Downs and Art James

According to The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows First Edition, the hosts of Concentration on NBC were Hugh Downs (August 1958 to January 1969), Jack Barry (1958 prime time), Bob Clayton (January-March 1969 and September 1969 to March 1973) and Ed McMahon (March-September 1969). Substitute hosts were Art James, Jim Lucas (both of whom had previously been Concentration announcers) and Bill Mazer.

Downs had other jobs with NBC while he was host of Concentration: He was the announcer for Jack Paar on The Tonight Show and an anchor on The Today Show. (In 1968 Downs won an Emmy® as the host of the daytime Concentration.) Gene Rayburn was Downs’ competitor at the host audition for Concentration, but would become more famous as the host of another NBC game show, The Match Game.

According to Mike Burger, another Concentration pilot was made in 1985, with Orson Bean as host. In this pilot, contestants played for cash, matching related words (such as TUNA and FISH) instead of prizes. The bonus round involved matching prizes instead of cars.

Jack Narz was the host of the syndicated Concentration. (He was working on another Goodson show, Now You See It, at the same time.) In the late 1980s, Alex Trebek was the host of Classic Concentration on NBC. In 1991 Trebek distinguished himself in his field by being the host of three game shows at once: Jeopardy!, Classic Concentration and To Tell the Truth.

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