Gene Rayburn (born Eugene Rubessa December 22, 1917 – November 29, 1999) was an American radio and television personality. Eugene Rubessa (pronounced /ruːˈbeɪʃə/) in Christopher, Illinois, was an only child of Croatian immigrants and graduated from Knox College.
He chose his stage name by randomly pointing at a page in the telephone book, after being told Rubessa sounded "too Italian".
Gene started out as a radio star in New York having done morning show with Jack Lescoulie and later Dee Finch.
Gene later made the jump to television by becoming the announcer for Steve Allen's Tonight. It was in this media where Rayburn made a long association with Mark Goodson & Bill Todman. His first job with Goodson-Todman was being a panelist on The Name's The Same with Robert Q. Lewis. His very first hosting job for the company was Make the Connection, replacing previous host Jim McKay. In 1962, Gene was hired to host a new show called The Match Game; he hosted it for seven years on NBC. Gene would go on to host a new version of Match Game for CBS and later syndication; he would host it from 1973 to 1982. Around a year after cancellation of the 70s & early 80s Match Game, Rayburn would host The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour alongside Jon "Bowzer" Bauman from 1983 to 1984, again on NBC. Rayburn was going to host another 80s version of Match Game, but the project was scrapped when he was somehow subject to age discrimination because of an Entertainment Tonight reporter.
Gene hosted shows for other companies too. Such as: Dough Re Mi & the 50s version of Tic Tac Dough for Barry & Enright; The Amateur's Guide to Love for Heatter-Quigley; the 80s Break the Bank for Kline & Friends; a pilot for Party Line (which ultimately became Hot Streak) for Reg Grundy; and finally The Movie Masters for AMC.
Gene Rayburn continued to make appearances on TV in the 90s until his death in 1999.
Gene Rayburn died of heart failure on November 29, 1999 and his remains were cremated at his daughter's home.