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Longtime broadcaster Hugh Downs dies at 99
Broadcast news legend Hugh Downs died on Wednesday at the age of 99 after suffering from a heart condition.
Downs's niece confirmed his death to The Washington Post, saying that he died at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. Downs was known for his prolific career in television, both as an anchor for NBC's "Today" show and as a co-host of ABC's "20/20" alongside Barbara Walters.
Despite his long career in television, Downs got his start in radio and told USA Today in an interview that he used to believe TV would fail as a medium.
"I thought TV wasn't anything that was going to stay," he reportedly said. "I viewed it as a gimmick, like 3D."
Walters praised Downs's abilities as a co-host in her 2008 memoir, explaining how the two filled different roles on the show.
"Hugh and I had different personalities and different styles, yet we complemented each other," Walters wrote in "Audition," according to the Post. "He was more contemplative and thought of himself as something of a philosopher. His questions during interviews were gentler than mine, but he never restricted me from asking what I wanted. In short, he was ... one of the truest gentlemen I have ever known."
Downs also had a hand in a number of other major television productions, including NBC's "Tonight Show" and a sketch comedy program called "Caesar's Hour." He briefly assumed the hosting chair of "The Tonight Show" in one instance in 1960 when host Jack Paar angrily walked off the set.
He is survived by his two children, a brother, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, according to The New York Times.