Jim Perry, Top Game Show Host in the 1970s and '80s, Dies at 82

Jim Perry - H 2015
Courtesy of Everett Collection

Jim Perry - H 2015

He was on NBC for a decade as the face of the network's 'Card Sharks' and 'Sale of the Century.'

Jim Perry, who hosted the popular NBC game shows Card Sharks and Sale of the Century in the 1970s and ’80s, has died. He was 82.

Perry died Friday at home in Ashland, Ore., after a five-year battle with cancer, WME announced.

In 1978, the dapper Perry started as host of Card Sharks, beginning his long-standing relationship with NBC. He hosted a version of the game show and the two pilots that preceded it from April 24, 1978, until Oct. 23, 1981.

NBC then named Perry as the host of a revamped edition of Sale of the Century in 1982. That show aired for six years and spun off into a nightly syndicated version, which saw Perry doing double-duty as the host of both shows.

Card Sharks, from Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions, was based on the card game Acey Deucey and featured huge, oversized playing cards handled by attractive female assistants. The new version of Sale of the Century, from Reg Grundy Productions, had contestants participating in a shopping game.

Born in Camden, N.J., Perry was a star basketball player who went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania. After graduation, he joined the Special Services, where he worked on Armed Forces Radio during the Korean War.

After the war, the 6-foot-4 Perry teamed with legendary comedian Sid Caesar, and they toured together for several years, including a three-year stint in Las Vegas.

He went on to serve as host of the Miss Canada Pageant, which he emceed from 1967-90, and served as the announcer on 1969’s syndicated program That Show, starring Joan Rivers. From 1969-72, he did the weekend overnight shift as a DJ at WABC Radio in New York.

In 1974, Perry became the host of the CTV game show Headline Hunters, which aired from 1972-83. In the midst of his duties there, Perry began hosting the Canadian network’s Definition, which ran until 1989 as the longest-running game show in Canadian TV history. 

Perry’s first major American network hosting job came in 1967 with It’s Your Move, which was produced in Canada for syndication in the U.S.

Survivors include his wife of 56 years, June, a former model; their children Sean and Erin; and three grandchildren.

“Today we lost the greatest father, friend and husband anybody could ever wish for,” the family said in a statement. “While he provided decades of entertainment to millions of people, his greatest victory was his growth as a human being — rising from a childhood filled with challenges including great poverty to provide an amazing life for his family. The world is a better place for his having been here.”

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his name to a local hospice provider or cancer charity.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4