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Eugene Jelyavich

Also Known As: "Gene Rayburn"
Birthplace: Christopher, Franklin County, Illinois, United States
Death: November 29, 1999 (81)
Gloucester, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States (Congestive Heart Failure)
Place of Burial: Cremated
Immediate Family:

Son of Petar Jelyavich and Mary A. Jelyavich-Rubessa
Husband of Helen Eleanor Rayburn
Father of Private
Brother of Alfred Rubessa
Half brother of Phyllis May Marran and Milan "James" Rubessa

Occupation: Television Announcer, Game Show Host
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Gene Rayburn

Television Announcer/Game Show Host/Actor. He was born Eugene Jelyevich in Christopher, Illinois. He was the only child of Croatian immigrants. He acted in high school plays and hoped to follow an acting career. He graduated from Knox College. He moved to New York City in the 1930s where he was a page for NBC, later working as an usher for the NBC symphony orchestra. He went to announcers school and worked with various radio personalities around New York City. He married Helen Tricknor in 1940 with whom he had one child, Lynn in 1942. He joined the US Air Corps. After the war Gene worked on the Rayburn and Fitch show and later the Gene Rayburn Show in the early fifties. His breakthrough came in 1954 as the announcer on "The Tonight Show" with Steve Allen. In 1955, he hosted his first game show called "The Sky's the Limit". Subsequent game shows included "Make the Connection" (1955), "Musical Chairs" (1955),"Tic Tac Dough" (1956), "Play Your Hunch" (1958), and "Dough Re Mi" (1958). He was also a Broadway performer, and appeared in plays. He had a small part in the 1959 movie "It Happened to Jane". In 1962 Rayburn first hosted "The Match Game". The original version, which aired on NBC, lasted until 1969; in 1973 the show returned to CBS with a new format in which contestants matched celebrity answers to humorous fill-in-the-blank questions. Millions tuned in and soon the show became the highest-rated daytime TV show. From 1973 to 1977, it was #1 among all game shows. The show aired in a night time version until 1982.The final game shows Rayburn emceed were, a 1985 revival of "Break the Bank" and "The Movie Masters", an AMC cable game show that ran from 1989 to 1990. In January 2001, he was ranked #3 on TV Guide's list of the 10 "hosts we love the most". Rayburn appeared in person to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He died at age 81.

Bio by: Jane Stacy Eubanks (Find a Grave)

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Gene Rayburn's Timeline

December 22, 1917
Christopher, Franklin County, Illinois, United States
November 29, 1999
Age 81
Gloucester, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States