Jim Lange, the infamous host of The Dating Game and a reality TV romance pioneer, tragically passed away on Tuesday. According to his wife, Nancy Fleming, Lange died of a heart attack in his Mill Valley California home. He was 81-years-old.
While current TV dating shows now focus on having a bachelor or bachelorette with around 25 love-crazy suitors to choose between, Lange’s Dating Game show had a much simpler premise. From the first time it aired in 1965, one man or woman would quiz three members of the opposing sex without seeing them to determine if they would like to date them.
Jim Lange hosted the hit show for a staggering 20 years before passing his crown onto Elaine Joyce. During his tenure as a matchmaker, Lange helped average Joes to celebrities alike find love.
“The best memories are working with the wonderful people who were on the show,” he told the Bay Area Radio Digest in 1992. ”Over the years we had, I guess, almost every celebrity who was single, from Michael Jackson to Burt Reynolds to Tom Selleck. They all came through the show, even Groucho Marx. So I got to meet all those people — I think that was a great thrill, and also the fact that I got to see nine beautiful women everyday.”
In 1962, Lange made his appearance onto the small screen, as an announcer on The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show. It would be three years later that he would really make his mark on television.
After hosting the popular game show, Lange continued his legacy as a host for Hollywood Connection, $100,00 to Name That Tune, and The New Newlywed Game. He eventually went on to be a morning radio host, retiring in 2005.
Jim Lange is survived by his wife Nancy, five children, two step-children, four grandchildren, and a sister.