Jim Lange, ‘Dating Game’ host, dies

SAN FRANCISCO — Jim Lange, the first host of the popular game show “The Dating Game,” has died at his home in Mill Valley, Calif. He was 81.

He died Tuesday morning after suffering a heart attack, his wife Nancy told The Associated Press Wednesday.

Though Lange had a successful career in radio, he is best known for his television role on ABC’s “The Dating Game,” which debuted in 1965 and on which he appeared for more than a decade, charming audiences with his mellifluous voice and wide, easygoing grin.

He also played host to many celebrity guests. Michael Jackson, Steve Martin and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others, appeared as contestants.

Even a pre-”Charlie’s Angels” Farrah Fawcett appeared on the program, introduced as “an accomplished artist and sculptress” with a dream to open her own gallery.

The show’s format: a young man or woman questions three members of the opposite sex, hidden from view, to determine which one would be the best date.

The questions were designed by the show’s writers to elicit sexy answers.

“I’ve never been out on a date before. What do two kids like us do on a date?” a teenage Michael Jackson asked one of his potential dates on a 1972 episode of the show.

“Well, we’d have fun,” the girl answered. “We’d go out to dinner, and then I’d go over to your house.”

Lange was born on Aug. 15, 1932, in St. Paul, Minn., where at 15 he discovered a passion for local radio after winning an audition at a local station.

“They wanted a boy and a girl,” he said in a 1992 interview with the Bay Area Radio Digest. “They wanted the boy to do sports and the girl to do the dances and stuff that was going on in the Twin Cities — very sexist — and play music once a week.”

He hosted that show for two years before attending the University of Minnesota and doing a three-year stint in the Marines, according to the Bay Area Radio Museum.

His big break on network TV came in 1962 when he was made an announcer and sidekick on “The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show.”

Later, after “The Dating Game” brought him national recognition, he also hosted the game shows “Hollywood Connection,” “$100,000 Name That Tune” and “The New Newlywed Game.”

Lange also worked as a disc jockey for decades in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, and upon his retirement from broadcasting in 2005, he was the morning DJ for KABL-FM, which specializes in playing classics from the Big Band era to the 1970s.

“As much as he’s known for his television work, his real love was radio,” his wife said. “He loved doing local radio, especially before it was computerized.”

Lange himself once told the Bay Area Radio Digest that his favorite aspect of the medium was that “you don’t have to worry about lighting directors and cameramen or script writers and all that.”

“Good radio is still the most fun,” he said, “It always will be. Plus, you don’t have to wear makeup and you don’t have to shave.”

Lange is survived by a sister, five children, two stepchildren and four grandchildren.

More in Local News

Mukilteo crabber missing; his boat was found at Hat Island

Frank Urbick set out Thursday morning but did not return.

Police looking for leads in case of missing Snohomish man

Henry John Groeneveld, 63, was last seen on Monday, when he said something about going to “the river.”

Separate Everett fires send man to hospital, damage boat

The man was hospitalized for smoke inhalation from the early morning fire.

Police: He made an appointment, then tried to rob the bank

A lawyer is accused of donning a fake beard and telling a teller that a gunman was outside.

Drive-by shooting reported in Marysville neighborhood

Police said there was no evidence to indicate it was targeted at a specific person or property.

Celebrating the origins of Christmas

LDS church holds annual nativity festival featuring more than 600 sets.

Trooper’s car struck when he was arresting man for DUI

She drove away but was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence and hit-and-run.

Inslee’s budget solves school funding with help from carbon

His budget would use reserves to boost education, then replenish them with a carbon tax or fee.

Man, 29, injured by shots fired at Everett thrift store

The gunfire followed an argument in the parking lot of Value Village on Evergreen Way.

Most Read