The Definitive Ranking of the 10 Best Game Show Hosts of All Time

While the weight of the outside world encroaches into much of the television entertainment we consume, one genre has sustained itself within a glorious bubble: the game show. Here, timers and buzzers and challenges and fabulous prizes swirl into one wonderful universe, one in which even we could potentially participate if we were so inclined to try. And each tried and true show is led by a likely tried and true host, who guides us through each episode ever-mindful of the rules and regulations that define their game. There have been some great ones along the way, but here is our list of the Top 10.

#10 Ken Ober – Best known for “Remote Control”

best game show hosts, ken ober

We start with perhaps our most controversial choice. Historically, game shows were a stodgy affair or definitely one where you could rarely let loose. With few exceptions, there would either be a stiff host, contestants, or both. MTV turned that tradition on its head in 1987 with the raucous “Remote Control,” its first non-musical series. Here was a coach potato’s game show, which meant all of us who ever watched the channel. Each episode was a party and Ken Ober was that party’s master. Looking like a former fraternity president, with a mischievous smirk signaling an urge to go wild, “Remote Control” provided him the platform to do just that and most of the reason we clicked ours onto his show for another installment of marvelous mayhem time and time again. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

#9 Jeff Probst – Best known for “Survivor”

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When the dust settled from the collision of game and reality shows in 2000, there stood Jeff Probst. Competing on “Survivor” is not for the faint at heart, be it the extreme weather, extreme challenges, extreme plotting and backstabbing, or extreme hunger that accompanies all three. There at the center of these extremes is Probst, who serves as the show’s foundation and sometimes guiding light. As the years have progressed, he has become a more vocal participant in the game’s twists and turns, not above stirring the contestants’ already swirling pot. And when he snuffs out your torch or, even better — hands you a million-dollar check — you realize Probst don’t need no stinkin’ immunity idol or necklace to make him an all-powerful host. (Photo credit: DirectTV)

#8 Bert Convy – Best known for “Super Password”

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Upon seeing him behind a desk or podium, there’s something immediately appealing about Bert Convy. Game shows were obviously in his blood and he hosted many great ones –- “Tattletales,” “Super Password” and “Win, Lose, or Draw” among them. Game show host is usually an impressive enough job title, but Convy was also a minor league baseball player, singer and TV, film and Broadway actor. A popular game show panelist himself in the ’60s, he would eventually serve as a substitute host until deservedly being given the reigns of his own. While most of the hosts on this list we remember best for their contribution to one game show, Convy had so many even besides the three we’ve mentioned, and brought them all to a higher level with his seasoned presence and ease. (Photo credit: YouTube)

#7 Chuck Woolery – Best known for “Love Connection”

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Here’s another entry on this list with many great game show credits under his belt, most impressive perhaps, “Wheel of Fortune,” on which he served as the original host (way back then you’d solve a puzzle and be forced to buy however many prizes displayed on stage you could afford with the windfall). But “Love Connection” might be his biggest triumph. On this favorite, Woolery launched the dating game show into the video age. Audience participation and snap judgments sent two strangers off on a date together, and the results were often reality show-worthy retellings of how it all went. Often not well, and with Woolery as part host/part couple’s therapist, we kept tuning in, no matter our own relationship status. (Photo credit: Warner Bros./Photofest)

#6 Regis Philbin – Best known for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

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Back in 1999, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” spread across the United States landscape with the voracity of a supervirus from a doomsday movie. You would think a game show with multiple choice answers –- can you imagine if “Jeopardy!” had multiple choice answers!?! –- and a contestant’s ability to get hints and guesses from others (three separate times!!!) would not be taken seriously. But with Philbin at the helm, “Millionaire” was must see TV and brought ABC the best ratings it had had in a long time. He was already a pro — to call him a television veteran might even be downplaying his stature — but a decade and a half ago his charisma, energy, and prominence carried “Millionaire” to incredible highs for a game show, a genre of television that was long dead and resurrected with a vengeance in no small part to this beloved show business icon. (Photo credit: YouTube)

#5 Gene Rayburn – Best known for “Match Game”

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Gene Rayburn was great. How great was he? He was so great, he hosted some incarnation of “Match Game” from the early 1960s to the early 1980s. It started with a straight, buttoned-up format, like all game shows had at that time, with two teams captained by one celebrity along with two audience members. But attitudes loosened in the ’70s and so did television programming. “Match Game,” which had been off the air for a few years, was revamped, and brought back as the most outrageous, side-splitting game show audiences had ever seen. Six celebrities now graced the panel, and each tried to outshine the others with their wit, cleverness, humor, or if they had none of these, sex appeal. And Rayburn not only played ringleader to this circus, he may have eclipsed them all as the silliest, merriest, most amusing host to give audiences the _________ we always wanted. (Photo credit: CBS/Photofest)

#4 Richard Dawson – Best known for “Family Feud”

best game show hosts, richard dawson

From his bottom center “Match Game” seat, panelist Richard Dawson became the audience’s and contestants’ favorite. Here he was a breakout star and was eventually rewarded with his own game show. “Family Feud” premiered in 1976 and was immediately a ratings success. The charm he showed in his few featured moments each episode on “Match Game” was stretched to great affect for the entire half hour. Not only did he bring ladies to their knees with his slight English accent and heavy charisma, he made sure to give each and every one a kiss on the lips. From anyone else this might be cause for discomfort, but Dawson’s lips were welcome ones. Quite simply, he was revered for what he brought to that show, how smoothly he ran the gameplay — as if he were born to do so — and how easily he made each contestant on both opposing teams feel like celebrities themselves. (Photo credit: ABC/Photofest)

#3 Alex Trebek – Best known for “Jeopardy!”

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He’s a bit of a stick-in-the-mud. And sometimes it seems like he thinks he’s so smart. But whatever superiority complex is going on with Alex Trebek, it is well-deserved. “Jeopardy!” is a game of intelligence with answers coming at the three contestants fast and furiously. Trebek conducts it all calmly and knowingly, making this test of knowledge a truly exciting half hour night after night, week after week. Yes, his level-headed and collected manner could suggest a boring personality. But there is something quite engrossing about a man who has reams of facts in his head, whether or not they are ultimately put into the form of a question. (Photo credit: King World Productions/Photofest)

#2 Dick Clark – Best known for “Pyramid”

best game show hosts, dick clark

The value of the grand prize may have changed its title throughout its decade plus run – starting out at $10,000 and rising all the way up to $100,000 – but its host remained the same and the show was better for it. Dick Clark brought so much to the world of television, and became a mogul as a result, but on “Pyramid” he was simply the most engaged, gentlemanly, devoted host the medium has ever seen. The show literally had whistles and bells that can bring camp to a series, but the gameplay here came at warp speed and contestants needed to be whip smart to contend. And the two Winner’s Circle rounds of each episode were perhaps more thrilling than anything you might ever find on television before and since. Clark rode that excitement, casually but solidly steered it, in fact, and when you were liable to win it all with just enough time left on the clock, his cries of “Hurry! Hurry!” came straight from his heart and made winners of us all. (Photo credit: ABC/Photofest)

#1 Bob Barker – Best known for “The Price is Right”

best game show hosts, bob barker

If the “Match Game” stage was a circus, “The Price Is Right” was a carnival, and its barker, Bob, commanded it all with such joy and dignity that whatever silly challenge a contestant was up against took on the gravitas of an Olympic sport. He bore the image of a favorite grandfather – or uncle in its earlier days – and his suited frame didn’t need to hide behind a desk or podium. With just a pencil-thin microphone in hand, Barker was all in on the action. And oh, was there action – a raucous audience, cutthroat bidding, flashy games decked out with lights and glitter, and beautiful dames waving their hands around grocery items, electronics, appliances, and vehicles with robotic abandon. As home viewers, this all made our heads spin like a firmly pulled Big Wheel. Later years have proven that Barker is the only one who can host this show, not just because he is definitively the Best Game Show Host ever, but because for decades he made “Price” a thriving home for us, his every move a pleasing one, even his well-worn pleas for animal sterilization. (Photo credit: CBS/Photofest)