Host TV gameshows in the '50s and ''60s

Mike Bongiorno, the man dubbed Italo TV’s “Quiz King” died Tuesday 85.

The veteran TV host, who introduced the quiz show to an enthusiastic Italian public in the 1950s and 1960s, was probably the most famous face on Italian TV until the day he died.

Sky Italia said that Bongiorno, who is thought to have suffered a heart attack, had been working on a TV show in Montecarlo for the Murdoch satcaster.

Rival mogul and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who controls the Mediaset TV empire said Italy had “lost a great TV personality” and he that he had “lost a friend.”

Bongiorno, whose real name is Michael Nicholas Salvatore Bongiorno, was born in New York City. But he moved to his mother’s home city of Turin in Northern Italy as a youngster.

His big TV break came in the 1950s when he helped popularize the quiz show on Italo pubcaster Rai.  One of his biggest hits was “Lascia o Raddoppia?” (Double or quits) the Italo version of “The $64,000 Question.”

By the end of the 1960s he’d established himself as one of Italy’s best loved — and best paid — television personalities.

But when the then property magnate Berlusconi launched his private TV empire in 1979, he was quick to get the ever-popular Bongiorno onboard. For most of the next three decades the “Quiz King” presented popular shows on the emerging Mediaset empire.

Bongiorno also hosted many other high-profile shows, including the annual song fest in San Remo.

In March this year, Bongiorno  finally switched to Sky Italia after Mediaset decided not to renew his contract, and he was working for Sky the day he died.

He is survived by his wife Daniela Zuccoli and three children.

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