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Gameshow king Goodson dies

Mark Goodson, the prolific producer/creator of some of TV’s top-rated gameshows, including “The Price Is Right” and “Family Feud,” died Friday of cancer. He was 77.

With his late partner Bill Todman, Goodson carved out a distinguished career as a producer with such shows as “Password,””To Tell the Truth,””The Match Game, “”What’s My Line?””I’ve Got a Secret” and “Beat the Clock,” among many others.

Just last week it was announced that he would be inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Hall of Fame. Goodson won the Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.

At the time of his death, he was president and board chairman of Mark Goodson Prods., a post that his son, Jonathan, will fill.

Over a career that spanned 50 years, he tried his hand at writing, directing, acting and producing.

Bob Barker, host of “The Price Is Right,” said Goodson “was a legendary figure in television who was respected throughout the industry.”

Goodson developed many of the staples of the genre: contestants buzzing in, pitting contestants against each other and keeping the champion on until a loss.

Neither Goodson, the creative half of the team, nor Todman, who handled business dealings, was ever implicated during the quiz show scandals of the 1950 s. Todman died July 29, 1979; Goodson ran their business solo afterward.

Born in Sacramento to Russian immigrants, Goodson’s first job was in 1937 as a disc jockey at radio station KCBS in San Francisco. Two years later he was hired by Mutual Broadcasting System station KFRC as an announcer, newscaster and station director.

He moved to New York in 1941 to work as a freelance radio announcer, emceeing his first radio gameshow there, “The Jack Dempsey Sports Quiz.”

In 1943 he created his first network show, a dramatic series on ABC titled “Appointment With Life,” based on the files of a marriage counselor. He went on to write and direct episodes on the “Kate Smith Variety Hour.”

His TV producing career got started in 1946 when he teamed with Todman to form Goodson-Todman Prods. They went on to create and package dozens of series for daytime and prime time TV.

The duo’s first gameshow, “Winner Take All,” ran on CBS radio in 1946. Over the next couple of years, the two created a number of gameshows for radio and then for TV.

Goodson created “What’s My Line,” which first aired Feb. 1, 1950, and became an overnight hit. It ran for 17 years every Sunday night on CBS.

Over its run, the show featured such mystery guests as Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Roosevelt, Carl Sandburg and Barbra Streisand.

By 1956, with several shows to their credit, Goodson-Todman became the largest packagers of gameshows in the United States.

From there, they began to create dramatic series including “The Rebel, “”Jefferson Drum,””Branded” and the “Richard Boone Repertory Theater.”

Goodson created “To Tell the Truth” in 1956 and “Password” in 1961, both of which were long-running hits.

In 1986, Goodson created the Goodson Newspaper Group Inc. and consolidated his earlier purchases of daily and weekly newspapers. The group now has eight dailies, six Sunday papers and 25 paid and free weekly newspapers.

In addition to his son, he is survived by daughters Marjorie Goodson Cutt and Jill Goodson Bishop and a brother, Marvin. Memorial services are planned in January in New York and Los Angeles.

In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested donations to the Mark Goodson Memorial Fund at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A. In 1990 Goodson donated $ 5 million to the hospital, where an 11-story building bears his name.

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