Geoff Edwards, TV game show host, dies at 83


This circa 1976 photo from Chuck Barris Productions shows Geoff Edwards on the television show “The New Treasure Hunt.” (AP)
March 10

Geoff Edwards, the hip-looking 1970s and ’80s host of TV game shows including “Jackpot!” and two incarnations of “Treasure Hunt,” died March 5 at a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 83.

The cause was complications from pneumonia, said his agent, Fred Westbrook.

Geoffrey Bruce Owen Edwards was born Feb. 15, 1931, in Westfield, N.J. He attended Duke University and later worked as a disc jockey at WOKO-AM in Albany, N.Y. Two years later, he was running a jazz show on San Diego’s KFMB and then traveled up the coast to radio jobs in Los Angeles at KHJ, KMPC and KFI.

Branching into TV with “Jackpot!” in the early 1970s, Mr. Edwards “helped change the look of game shows,” his agent said.

“He had long hair, he never wore a tie, he had an unbuttoned shirt with a gold chain, jeans and boots,” Westbrook said. “In 1974, that was really dramatic.”

In 1978 and 1979, he was a celebrity panelist on a syndicated show called “The Love Experts.” One of his fellow panelists was a young comic named Dave Letterman.

In the 1980s, Mr. Edwards hosted “Starcade,” where contestants battled via arcade video games.

Mr. Edwards also worked as an actor, appearing on TV shows including “Petticoat Junction,” “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Diff’rent Strokes.”

On radio, he was a clever talker who sprinkled music and news with homegrown bits such as “The Answer Lady.” That was simply Mr. Edwards answering listeners’ questions, often comically, without even pretending to imitate a female voice.

There was also a serious side to his radio personality.

In 1989, he left KFI after refusing to air station promotions touting a fellow host’s planned destruction of recordings by singer Cat Stevens, who had become a Muslim and adopted the name Yusuf Islam. On air, Mr. Edwards called Tom Leykis’s upcoming record-burning “fascist.”

“If this radio station is supporting that,” Mr. Edwards told listeners, “then I’m out of here. I don’t want to work here.”

Leykis, who called off the burning because of potential air pollution, instead crushed 200 Cat Stevens records and tapes with a steamroller. It was payback, he said, for Stevens supporting Ayatollah Khomeini’s death edict against author Salman Rushdie for blasphemy.

Mr. Edwards, who had been suspended, quit. His program was replaced by the syndicated “Rush Limbaugh Show.”

— Los Angeles Times

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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