We lost Jim Lange this past Tuesday at the age of 81.
Lange was one of those rare individuals that had successful careers in both radio and TV. After attending the University of Minnesota and a stint in the Marines, he got a break on network television when he was made the announcer and sidekick on The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show on NBC. He was a top rated radio DJ in Los Angeles when producer Chuck Barris tapped him to host The Dating Game in December 1965 on ABC. The premise of the game was simple: one young person plus three “eligible” bachelors of the opposite sex would meet without seeing one another and arrange a date. Lange would first introduce the bachelors to the audience (who could see them) and then the a partition on the stage would close them off before the “date” appeared the stage. The date would ask questions of each bachelor and then, after hearing their answers and when time was up, was given time to make up his or her mind about who to choose. Once the newly matched pair was arranged they were sent off on a luxurious night on the town or some glamorous vacation resort. The questions, written by the Chuck Barris staff, were generally of the titillating variety. Lange had a beautiful radio/TV voice and I remember watching this show all the time as a kid. Some of his great lines were “and here they are” (introducing the bachelors to the audience) and signing off with the line, “this is Jim Lange hoping you always get the date you really want…ready to throw them a kiss?” and he and the new couple would throw the audience a big kiss. Longtime TV announcer Johnny Jacobs did the announcing duties. Appearing on this show were Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Steve Martin, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Lange also hosted other game shows such as $100,000 Name That Tune and The New Newlywed Game.
The Dating Game ran on ABC Daytime from December 1965 until July 1973. It started in the mornings but by the summer of 1968 it was paired back to back in the afternoon with The Newlywed Game, another Chuck Barris production with host Bob Eubanks, another former LA disc jockey from KRLA Radio. It also aired on ABC primetime Tuesdays from 7:30-8pm CT from October 1966 to January 1967 and then moved to Saturdays from 6:30-7pm CT in January 1967 until January 1970. During the 1960’s, the networks started primetime Monday-Saturday at 7:30pm ET/6:30pm CT but this time was later returned to the affiliates in 1970 when the FCC issued the prime time access rule which was intended for local stations to use that time for local programming and to restrict the number of hours the networks could impose on stations and to promote diversity of programming. The rule was repealed in 1996.
Lange was not only a Top 40 and big band music disc jockey but also a talented voiceover artist because of his beautiful voice. Being from the Midwest, he had the voice advertisers loved .
Jim, thank you for the great memories. See you next time.
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