Gene Rayburn (born Eugene Rubessa December 22, 1917 – November 29, 1999) was an American radio and television personality.
Born Eugene Rubessa (pronounced /ruːˈbeɪʃə/) in Christopher, Illinois, he was an only child of Croatian immigrants to the United States.
After he graduated from Knox College, he chose his stage name of Gene Rayburn by randomly pointing at a page in a telephone directory, after being told "Rubessa" sounded "too Italian."
After Eugene Rubessa became Gene Rayburn, he started out as a radio star in New York, having done a morning show with Jack Lescoulie and later Dee Finch. Later, he made the jump to television by becoming the announcer for Steve Allen's Tonight Show. It was in this media that Rayburn began his long association with Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. His first job with Goodson-Todman was being a panelist on The Name's The Same with Robert Q. Lewis. His very first hosting job for the company was Make the Connection, replacing previous host Jim McKay. In 1962, Rayburn was hired to host a new show called The Match Game; he hosted this for seven years on NBC. Rayburn would go on to host a new version of Match Game for CBS and later syndication; he would host it from 1973 to 1982. Around a year after cancellation of the 70s & early 80s Match Game, Rayburn would host The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour alongside Jon "Bowzer" Bauman from 1983 to 1984, again on NBC. Rayburn was going to host another 80s version of Match Game, but the project was scrapped when he was somehow subject to age discrimination because of an Entertainment Tonight report.
Match Game was not the only program Rayburn hosted during his career. He hosted shows for other companies too, examples including Dough Re Mi and the '50s version of Tic Tac Dough for Jack Barry]] and Dan Enright; The Amateur's Guide to Love for Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley; the '80s Break the Bank for Kline & Friends; a pilot for Party Line (which ultimately became Hot Streak) for Reg Grundy; and finally The Movie Masters for AMC.
Last years and death
Rayburn continued to make appearances on TV in the '90s until his death, of heart failure, on November 29, 1999. His remains were cremated at his daughter's home.