Ralph Andrews, Prolific Game Show Producer, Dies at 87

Ralph Andrews - H 2015
Courtesy of Andrews Family

His programs were hosted by the likes of Bob Barker, Rod Serling, Tom Kennedy and Vin Scully, and he co-founded the organization behind the Prism Awards.

Ralph Andrews, a prolific game show producer whose credits include NBC’s wildly popular You Don’t Say! of the 1960s, died Friday of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, his son, Matthew, said. He was 87.

His son said Andrews produced the second-most game shows in history, rivaled only by Mark Goodson.

You Don’t Say, which in its original incarnation was hosted by Tom Kennedy, aired on NBC in daytime from 1963 through 1969, routinely achieving a 40-plus share in the ratings.

Andrews also had a hand in such network or syndicated game shows as I’ll Bet, hosted by Jack Narz, Wedding Party (Alan Hamel), The Family Game (Bob Barker), It Takes Two (Vin Scully), It’s Your Bet (Hal March), Liar’s Club (Rod Serling and later Allen Ludden), Celebrity Sweepstakes (Jim McKrell) and 50 Grand Slam (Kennedy).

In 1983, Andrews founded the Entertainment Industries Council with Washington columnist Jack Anderson. The EIC hosts the annual Prism Awards, which honor outstanding individuals in the entertainment industry for their contributions to the fight against drug and alcohol abuse.

The first honoree was first lady Nancy Reagan, to whom Andrews presented the award on national television in 1986.

Andrews was raised in Saginaw, Mich., where he began his career as an announcer, disc jockey and salesman for radio stations. He moved to California, landed a page job at NBC and discovered his calling in television.

In the 1960s, after brief stints with Don Fedderson Productions (The Betty White Show) and Ralph Edwards Productions (It Could Be You), Andrews formed a production company in partnership with David Wolper. They produced 78 weeks of the reality program Divorce Hearing, which used real people instead of actors, and he produced and hosted Lie Detector, which challenged public figures from the news to take polygraph tests.

Andrews got his start in game shows when Desilu Productions hired him as its director of live programming, which then included the programs By the Numbers, Zoom and Show Me for KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

After leaving Desilu, Andrews started a production company with Bill Yageman, then launched the independent Ralph Andrews Productions.

He also produced a musical variety series for NBC called Mickie Finn’s and two one-hour comedy specials for CBS titled?The Super Comedy Bowl.

Andrews produced and hosted the game show Lingo in Canada for the CTV network and formed a partnership with IDRA Global Entertainment to produce game shows for the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Germany and Spain.  

Andrews later purchased a controlling interest in ABC affiliate KPLM-TV in Palm Springs, becoming the station’s GM, program director and host of his own talk show, The Troublemaker. He sold the station to Esquire magazine and purchased a weekly newspaper called The Harbor News, published in Ventura County.

In 1984, Andrews acquired the motion picture rights to the life of Polish activist Lech Walesa. The film was never produced, but Walesa and his wife, Danuta, served as the godparents for his son Matt.

Andrews produced the films The Silent Treatment (1968) and Wild in the Sky (1972) and had a role in Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (1949). His oldest son, Bill, was the subject of the 2014 documentary The Immortalists, in which Andrews makes his final onscreen appearance.

Survivors include his wife Aleksandra, five sons, two daughters, 15 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. The family requests that donations be made to The Alzheimer’s Association.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4