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Bob Stewart, the creator and producer of such legendary TV game shows as The Price Is Right, To Tell the Truth and Password, died Friday of natural causes at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 91.
Stewart created the formats for these long-lasting game shows as a producer with Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions.
In 1964, Stewart started his own production entity and during the next 28 years created and produced 15 network series, highlighted by the Pyramid franchise. Hosted by Dick Clark, The $10,000 Pyramid and its various bigger-money incarnations collected nine Emmys for best game show.
A native of Brooklyn who entered the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2009, Stewart landed his first show business job after World War II as a writer for WNEW-AM New York. He entered television in the early 1950s, writing, producing and directing for several New York broadcasters.
Stewart’s big career break came during a 1956 meeting with Goodson, during which he pitched the concepts for Price Is Right and To Tell the Truth. He created Password five years later.
Price Is Right premiered on NBC in November 1956 with Bill Cullen as host and lasted seven years before a retooled version, still running and now hosted by Drew Carey, debuted on CBS in 1972. Bob Barker hosted the show from 1972 to 2007.
CBS’ To Tell the Truth, emceed by Bud Collyer, debuted in December 1956. The show featured a panel of four celebrities attempting to correctly identify a contestant with an unusual occupation or experience. Password was hosted for nearly two decades by Allen Ludden, the late husband of frequent panelist Betty White.
Password was the first game show to pair celebrities and “civilians” as teammates. It also was the first “to test the intelligence of a celebrity,” Stewart said during a 1998 interview with the Archive of American Television.
Stewart also described a particularly funny moment when famous cheapskate comedian Jack Benny was on the show.
“The card [with the word the contestant has to guess off a clue from Benny to win the game] comes up on the screen: ‘miser,’ ” Stewart recalled with a smile. “When he got this, Jack didn’t say a word. He just looked at the camera with that look of his. The audience was falling apart. Finally, he says [as a clue] to his contestant partner: ‘Me.’ The contestant says, ‘Comedian?’ And the game went on.”
Services will be private with a memorial to be announced.
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