Mason Dixon

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News anchor icon Hugh Downs died on Wednesday (7/1) at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 99.

He co-anchored NBC’s Today show from 1962 to 1971, but is probably most remembered for his 21 years as co-host of ABC evening newsmagazine 20/20 (both alongside Barbara Walters), and his signature sign-off: “We’re in touch, so you be in touch.”

Downs was born in Akron, Ohio, on February 14, 1921, the son of Milton and Edith (Hick) Downs. His father was a machinist and battery salesman, and the family moved to Lima, Ohio, when he was 2, and 10 years later to a farm outside Lima, where Milton Downs worked part-time to supplement his Depression-era wages.

His family announced the death in a statement that read, “And yet, amid all of Hugh’s exceptional life achievements, was his love for his family. Hugh Downs and Ruth Shaheen, who were married when Hugh was 23, spent nearly 75 years together as a vision of love, partnership and creativity.” His family said his death was not related to coronavirus.

Downs married Ruth Shaheen in 1944; she died in 2017. He is survived by their children, Hugh Raymond and Deirdre Lynn Downs; a brother, Wallace; two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

The New York Times notes that Mr. Downs’s 1986 memoir was called On Camera: My 10,000 Hours on Television, and that number was no idle boast: for years he held the Guinness-certified record for most total hours on commercial network television. (Regis Philbin eventually passed him.)