Longtime game show host Jack Narz dies

Early victim of 1950s quiz show scandals

Jack Narz, a longtime game show host who was an early victim of the quiz show scandals of the 1950s when a show he was hosting was canceled, has died. He was 85.

Narz died Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from complications of a stroke, his wife, Delores, said Thursday.

Among the shows he hosted over the years were "Video Village," which began in 1960, "Seven Keys," 1961, "I'll Bet," 1963, and "Now You See It," 1974, according to the book "TV Game Shows!" by Maxene Fabe.

He also guest hosted many shows and did updated 1970s versions of older shows such as "Concentration" and "Beat the Clock."

He was the brother of veteran game show host Tom Kennedy.

His brother was a triple threat with good looks, personality and a "wonderful" voice, Kennedy said Thursday.

"He had a Dean Martin approach" to the job, Kennedy said. "He was smooth, on top, made it look effortless, and yet he was a pro. He came out so casually ... like 'I'm doing this off the top of my head.' "

While Narz had a small role in the scandal that gripped the nation in the late 1950s, he was not accused of wrongdoing.

He was host of "Dotto," a televised connect-the-dots game, when it was abruptly taken off the air in August 1958. Audiences didn't know it at the time, but a contestant had gone to authorities after he found a notebook backstage that indicated that another contestant was given answers in advance.

"Fate is a strange thing, isn't it?" Narz recalled in the 1992 PBS documentary "The Quiz Show Scandal." "... A successful thing like that show ... everything is just sailing along fantastically well and then some guy opens up a notebook that's about that big and sees some answers and everything ends."

The cancellation was the first sign of problems in the quiz show business that were to explode in headlines over the next year and a half as state and federal investigators moved in.

"No one appears more amazed by the sudden cancellation of 'Dotto' than its master of ceremonies, Jack Narz, who learned that the show had been dropped about the same time reporters did," The Associated Press reported at the time.

A few weeks after "Dotto" was canceled, Narz was questioned by investigators in the New York district attorney's office and told reporters later he knew nothing of any irregularities on the show.

In an Associated Press interview at the time, Narz said he never even met the contestants in advance, except for occasionally trying to calm down a nervous contestant about to go on the air.

The cancellation was a heavy blow.

"He was crushed. He was just stunned," his brother said but called the cancellation "just a stutter-step."

The sponsor, Colgate, immediately cast him in another game show, and his career lasted several more decades, Kennedy said.

Early in his career, Narz was an announcer on an early 1950s science fiction TV series called "Space Patrol." In the book "Space Patrol" by Jean-Noel Bassior, he recalled that one time, exhausted from doing too many freelance announcing jobs, he fell asleep on the job. Luckily, he said, a special effects "explosion" on the set peppered him with shards of papier-mache and woke him up just in time to do the live commercial spot.

In addition to his wife and brother, Narz is survived by a sister, Mary Lovett Scully of Las Vegas; sons David of Palm Springs and John and Michael of Los Angeles; a daughter, Karen Ferretti of Los Angeles; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.