Mostly Credited As: Mike Douglas
Sometimes Credited As: Michael Douglas
Birth Name: Michael Delaney Dowd Jr.
Date Of Birth: August 11, 1925 (Age 81)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois
Date Of Death: August 11, 2006
Cause Of Death: Natural causes (Palm Beach Gardens, Florida)
Douglas was born in Chicago, Illinois, and began singing as a choirboy. By his teens he was working as a singer on a Lake Michigan dinner cruise ship. After serving briefly in the United States Navy near the end of World War II, and as a "staff singer" for WMAQ-TV in Chicago, he moved to Los Angeles. There he became a vocalist in the big band of Kay Kyser, with whom he was featured on two notable hits, "Ole Buttermilk Sky" in 1946 and "The Old Lamplighter" the following year. Kyser was responsible for giving him his show business name, and he remained part of Kyser's band until Kyser retired from show business in 1951. In 1950, he provided the singing voice of Prince Charming in Walt Disney's Cinderella. In the 1950s Douglas, living in Burbank, California, tried to keep his singing career going, working as house singer for a nightclub and going on the road to stay busy. He preferred not to switch to rock and roll, which limited his opportunities as big band music was declining in popularity. In the leanest years, he and his wife survived by successfully "flipping" their L.A. homes. He next surfaced in 1961 in Cleveland, where a onetime Chicago colleague hired him for $400 a week as an afternoon television talk-show host at WKYC-TV, then known as KYW-TV. The show rapidly gained popularity, and ultimately, national syndication in August 1963 on five Westinghouse-owned stations. It stopped broadcasting live in 1965 after guest Zsa Zsa Gabor used inappropriate language on the air. As KYW-TV's owner, Group W, successfully had a station swap with NBC overturned by the FCC, the program moved to Philadelphia in June 1965 with KYW itself - though WKYC in Cleveland continued to carry the program for many years afterward. Guests ranged from Truman Capote and Richard Nixon to The Rolling Stones and Herman's Hermits. The show helped introduce entertainers such as Barbra Streisand and Aretha Franklin. Regrettably, footage of Streisand's appearance, like many others of this era, was discarded by WKYC-TV. After the move to Philadelphia, Douglas also attempted to revive his own singing career, logging his lone Top 40 single as a solo artist, "The Men In My Little Girl's Life" in 1966. By 1967, The Mike Douglas Show was broadcasting to 171 markets and 6,000,000 viewers each day, mostly women at home. It earned $10.5 million from advertisers, while its host was paid more than $500,000. In 1967, the program received the first Emmy Award for Individual Achievement in Daytime Television from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In July 1978, the talk show's home base was transferred to Los Angeles, where it remained until finally going off the air in 1981. A second series, The Mike Douglas Entertainment Hour, ended production in 1982. Douglas became a local cultural icon in Philadelphia, often inviting prominent players from the city's professional sports teams to be guests on his show (he had a particular affinity for the city's pro football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, constantly referring to the team as "Our Eagles", and he could often be seen in attendance at Eagles' home games, especially whenever they appeared on Monday Night Football). He also assisted in mayor Frank Rizzo's campaign against derisive jokes often told by outsiders about the city, acting as chief spokesperson for the "Anti-Defamation Agency" Rizzo had set up for this purpose. Douglas wrote a 1999 memoir titled I'll Be Right Back: Memories of TV's Greatest Talk Show. Forty years after Mike Douglas began his talk show at KYW-TV, his granddaughter Debbie Voinovich Donley designed successor WKYC's new broadcast facility on Lakeside Avenue, completed in 2002. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1990, but after surgery he was cancer-free. On his 81st birthday, Douglas died at 5:30 am at a Palm Beach Gardens hospital in North Palm Beach, Florida. He was... In addition to his wife, Mr. Douglas is survived by daughters Kelly and twins Michele and Christine, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. According to a family member, a private funeral service will be held Monday at a still to-be-determined location. Though the cause of death has not yet been disclosed, Douglas' wife, Genevieve, tells the Associated Press that he grew dehydrated on a golf course a few weeks ago and has been treated for that off and on since. "He was coming along fine," says the widow. "We never anticipated this to happen." Born Michael Delaney Down in Chicago, Douglas started his career as a teen singer at supper clubs and on radio programs, joined the Navy during World War II, has two hit singles during the 1950s, then ultimately hosted The Mike Douglas Show, which he always maintained was more about music than talk.