Jim Perry — the charismatic game show host best known for emceeing Card Sharks and $ale of the Century — died on Friday at the age of 82 following a five-year battle with cancer.
One of the most charismatic game show hosts of the ’70s and ’80s, Perry found TV fame in both the United States and Canada. The New Jersey-born University of Pennsylvania grad toiled on Armed Forces Radio in the 1950s during the Korean War and went on to play Sid Caesar’s straight man in Las Vegas.
His early American TV gigs included hosting 1967’s short-lived game show It’s Your Move and serving as the announcer on 1969’s That Show with Joan Rivers. He would rise to greater fame in America when he became host of NBC’s Card Sharks in 1978, a show that ran until 1981 (before it was later revived with different hosts). The network subsequently tapped him as the high-energy host of $ale of the Century, a revived game show from the early ’70s that would run from 1983 to 1989. (In addition, he emceed a nightly version of $ale in syndication that lasted one year.)
Perry also made a name for himself on Canadian TV, hosting Headline Hunters from 1972 to 1983 and Definition from 1975 to 1989. Canadian audiences also knew him as the emcee of the Miss Canada Pageant, a post he held from 1967 to 1990.
“Today we lost the greatest father, friend and husband anybody could ever wish for,” Perry’s family said in a statement. “While he provided decades of entertainment to millions of people, his greatest victory was his growth as a human being — rising from a childhood filled with challenges including great poverty, to provide an amazing life for his family. The world is a better place for his having been here.”
Perry is survived by his wife June, their children Sean and Erin, and three grandchildren.