John Daly, 77, a news reporter who moderated “What’s My Line?” one of tv’s most popular gameshows, died Feb. 25 in Chevy Chase, Md., of cardiac arrest.
The show became a Sunday night fixture for 17 years, the longest-running primetime gameshow in history.
The panelists, who had to guess the identity of a guest while blind-folded, included the actress Arlene Francis, Random House chairman Bennett Cerf, columnist Dorothy Kilgallen and poet and critic Louis Untermeyer, as well as Fred Allen, Steve Allen and guest panelists. Untermeyer was forced off the show during the McCarthy Era, Fred Allen died in 1956 and Kilgallen died suddenly of an overdose of medication in 1965.
“What’s My Line?” went off the air in 1967. Not long after, it was revived in syndication with Arlene Francis as the only returning original panelist and with Wally Bruner and later Larry Blyden as host. It remained in syndication until 1975.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Daly moved to New England with his mother when his father died. After studying at Boston College and working in a wool factory and for a transit company, Daly became a reporter for NBC Radio. He moved to CBS, acting as White House correspondent and later as a foreign correspondent.
Daly looked for a job in newspapers before a friend convinced him to appear on the quiz show “Celebrity Time.” In 1950 he got the “What’s My Line?” job, which was expected to last only six months. In 1955, he won the Emmy for best news reporter or commentator. Thanks to his popularity on the show, he became a v.p. in charge of news, special events, public affairs, religious programs and sports at ABC.
After the show ended in 1967, Daly took over as director of Voice of America. He resigned after a year because of a disagreement over personnel.
Survived by his second wife, Virginia, a daughter of former chief justice Earl Warren; two sons and a daughter from his first marriage, John Neal Daly, John Charles Daly III and Helene Fitzgerald; and two sons and a daughter from his second marriage, John Warren Daly, John Earl Jameson Daly and Nina Elisabeth Abath Taylor.