Bill Rancic Defends His Wife Giuliana After Fashion Police Controversy: 'I Tried to Get Them to Release the Footage' 42 years, 2,191 covers and 55,436 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Caitlyn Jenner was 'Disgusted' by Her Masculine 'Greek God Kind of Body'
- Read the Cover Story: Matthew McConaughey: Love, Family & What I've Learned
- Underdog Marcus Willis to Face Roger Federer After Stunning Wimbledon Win, Credits Girlfriend for Convincing Him Not to Quit
- Johnny Depp Gives First Public Interview Since Amber Heard Divorce Explodes
- WATCH: Dave Franco and Emma Roberts Strip Down for an Adventurous Game of Truth or Dare in Exclusive Nerve Clip
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- December 20, 1999
- Vol. 52
- No. 24
Gene Rayburn Lit Up TV's The Match Game with His Brash and Risqué Wit
"The whole idea [of emceeing] is to amuse the people sitting in front of you," Rayburn told PEOPLE just days before dying of congestive heart failure at home in Beverly, Mass.
Yet the Illinois-born only child of Milan Rubessa, a machinist from Croatia, and his wife, Mary, a home-maker, once yearned to be an opera singer, and after a year at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., he moved to New York City. Unable to afford voice lessons, he took a job as a studio tour guide at NBC in 1936. After serving as a bombardier in World War II, Rayburn began to forge a broadcast résumé that took him from late '40s New York City radio deejay to sidekick on the original Tonight Show (1954-57). "He just had a happy-go-lucky kind of air," recalls then-host Steve Allen.
That jauntiness served him well on The Match Game. But with the show's demise in 1982, Rayburn landed few others. "He claimed it was because he was too old, but my God, look at Bob Barker!" says Lynne Rayburn, 57, an animal-rights activist and the only child of Gene and Helen Rayburn, his wife of 56 years who died in 1996. "He was brokenhearted that show business had forgotten him." On Oct. 26, they remembered as Rayburn won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in Manhattan. "He looked great," says Lynne. "He was very pleased."
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!