Jack Narz, a smooth-talking game show host who was an early victim of the quiz show scandals of the 1950s, died Wednesday. He was 85.
Narz died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from complications of a stroke, said his wife, Delores.
Among the shows he hosted 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.
Kennedy said his brother was a triple threat with good looks, personality and a “wonderful” voice.
“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 as state and federal investigators moved in.
A few weeks after “Dotto” was canceled, Narz was questioned by investigators and told reporters he knew nothing of any irregularities.
In an 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 sponsor, Colgate, immediately cast him in another game show, and his career lasted several more decades.
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 jobs, he fell asleep on the job. Luckily, he said, a special effects “explosion” on the set peppered him with papier-mache and woke him up just in time to do a live commercial.
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.