Television in the 1960s was pretty innocent, and more efficient judging by today’s standards. Current reality TV shows such as “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” show a series of fantasy “dates.” Contestants are eliminated week after week until finally the perfect couple is announced. This takes months.
Starting in 1965, we watched women and men choose a date in 30 minutes. On December 20, 1965, host Jim Lange welcomed viewers to the “The Dating Game.” Here is a sample of what viewers saw:
Recognize some of the contestants? This show was not meant to be a spontaneous encounter. Professional writers created the questions and many celebrities were happy to appear. In a long career in broadcasting, Lange was most recognized for hosting “The Dating Game” for a decade. But he actually got his first professional broadcasting job in radio in San Francisco.
After completing his military service in 1957, he moved to the City and took a job at KGO radio in 1958, working the overnight shift. He built an audience as, “The All-Night Mayor.” He moved to KSFO by 1960 and got an afternoon show, becoming a part of what was promoted as, “The World’s Greatest Radio Station,” along with San Francisco radio stars of the day Don Sherwood and Gene Nelson.
In 1962, Tennessee Ernie Ford was producing his daytime television show in San Francisco and hired Lange as an announcer and sidekick. In 1965, “The Dating Game” became his first of many hosting jobs for game shows though the years. In 1990, he returned to the Bay Area radio. He retired from station KABL in the City in 2005. Lange passed away last week at his home in Mill Valley, north of San Francisco, at the age of 81. Here is a clip from the “Today” show about his fame from “The Dating Game.”
Lange’s wife was Nancy Anne Fleming, Miss America in 1961. She is quoted as saying, “As much as he’s known for his television work, his real love was radio.”