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Legendary US TV Personality Hugh Downs Dies at 99

FILE - Hugh Downs attends the Today show 60th anniversary celebration in New York, Jan. 12, 2012.

Legendary U.S. broadcaster Hugh Downs, who at one time held the record for the most hours appearing on American television, has died at 99.

Downs' daughter said her father died Wednesday of a heart ailment.

Hugh Downs once described himself as "a jack of all trades and a master of none," excelling at every broadcasting assignment during his 60 years on radio and television.

Downs began in radio in his native Ohio, and after moving to Chicago and later New York, became one of television's most familiar and welcomed faces.

FILE - Hugh Downs hosts the Today show on NBC, March 10, 1966.
FILE - Hugh Downs hosts the Today show on NBC, March 10, 1966.

With a smooth voice, warm demeanor and simple style, Downs announced variety shows, did commercials, narrated soap operas, joked around with puppets and hosted talk shows.

He announced The Tonight Show with host Jack Paar and hosted the early morning news broadcast Today, while finding time to emcee the fondly remembered game show Concentration.

Downs liked to say people woke up with him on Today, went to bed with him on Tonight, and played Concentration with him in between.

Downs co-anchored the news magazine 20/20 from 1978 until his retirement in 1999. That job allowed Downs to indulge in such adventures as traveling to the North and South Poles, swimming with sharks and killer whales, diving for sunken treasure, and experiencing weightlessness on a NASA flight simulator.

Downs estimated that he spent 10,000 hours on television, which earned him a one-time spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.