Veteran game show host Tom Kennedy dies at 93

Tom Kennedy in 1974.
Tom Kennedy in 1974, as host of “Split Second.”
(ABC Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty)

Veteran game show host Tom Kennedy, best known for hosting programs such as “Name That Tune,” “Password Plus,” “You Don’t Say!” and “Split Second,” died Wednesday at his home in Oxnard. He was 93.

The news was confirmed on Facebook by his friend Steve Beverly. A cause of death was not given, but Beverly noted Kennedy “had not been well in recent months.”


Born James Edward Narz, the Louisville, Ken., native attended the University of Missouri and later married his college sweetheart, Betty Gevedon. While in school, he got a radio job and went on to spend 10 years in the business before moving to Hollywood in 1947 to follow in brother Jack Narz’s footsteps.

In 1957 he changed his stage name to Tom Kennedy to further distinguish himself from his brother, also a game show host.

The comedian hosted ‘SNL’ this weekend, kicking off the show with a controversial stand-up touching on the COVID-19 pandemic, cancel culture and white women.

Oct. 11, 2020

Over the course of 30 years, Kennedy hosted 14 game shows beginning with the short-lived radio program “Dr. I.Q.” in 1958. He went on to host NBC’s “The Big Game” in 1958, his first national hosting gig, as well as the series “You Don’t Say!” (where he stayed for six years), “Split Second,” “It’s Your Bet,” “Name That Tune,” “Break The Bank,” “To Say The Least,” “Whew!” “Password Plus,” “Body Language,” and “Wordplay,” his final hosting job. He briefly hosted a talk show, “The Real Tom Kennedy Show,” in 1970 and hosted a syndicated nighttime version of “The Price Is Right” in 1985.

In addition to hosting the shows, Kennedy also appeared in a handful including “Hollywood Squares,” “Super Password,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “Password” and “The Match Game.” He also had small acting roles in shows like “Cannon,” “Cybill,” “Hardcastle and McCormick,” “That Girl,” “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and “The Ghost & Mrs. Muir.”

Kennedy is survived by his sister, Mary, children Linda, James Jr. and Courtney, daughter-in-law Linda and granddaughter Abigail.