Kennedy’s close friend Steve Beverly confirmed his death on Facebook, writing: “Tom had not been well in recent months but remained in communication with his family and close friends… Later, after I have time to clearly process this, I will offer my own remembrances of a relationship that evolved from his being my childhood icon to a genuine friendship I will always cherish.”
Kennedy was born Jim Narz on Feb. 26., 1927 in Louisville, Ky. Inspired by his older brother, Jack, who was also a television host, Kennedy moved to Los Angeles in 1947 to begin a broadcast career. After 10 years in radio and marrying his high school sweetheart, Betty Gevedon, Kennedy began hosting game shows as they rose to popularity in the ’50s. But, with his brother a host as well, he decided to change his name to avoid confusion, and in 1957 he became Tom Kennedy.
He went on to host various game shows for nearly three decades, with his biggest successes being “You Don’t Say!” on NBC from 1963 to 1969, “Split Second” from 1972 to 1975, “Name That Tune” from 1974 to 1981 and “Password Plus” from 1980 to 1982. His other hosting credits include “The Big Game,” “Dr. I.Q.,” “It’s Your Bet,” “Break the Bank,” “50 Grand Slam,” “To Say the Least,” “Whew!” and “Body Language.”
Kennedy also hosted a nighttime, syndicated edition of “The Price Is Right” from 1985 to 1986, and briefly had his own talk show, “The Real Tom Kennedy Show.” Kennedy retired in 1989. In 2005, Kennedy and his brother, Narz, both received the Game Show Congress’ Bill Cullen award for lifetime achievement.
Kennedy is survived by his children Linda Ann Narz, James Narz Jr. and Courtney Ellen Narz, in addition to his daughter-in-law Linda Papulis Narz, granddaughter Abigail Norah Narz and his sister, Mary Lovett Scully.