RALPH EDWARDS BIOGRAPHY
Ralph Livingstone Edwards was born on Friday, June 13, 1913, near Merino, Colorado, to Harry and Minnie Mae Edwards. Edwards attributed much of his creative success to the early encouragement of his mother. When he was 12, the family moved from its Colorado farm to Oakland, California, where Edwards began his on-stage career in school plays. After graduating from UC Berkeley, he moved to New York City in 1936, beating out 60 other candidates for a coveted position as a CBS radio announcer. Within two years, he was one of the busiest announcers in radio, announcing 45 network shows a week. By 1940, he had founded his own company, Ralph Edwards Productions (REP), and was creating and hosting his own shows.
Edwards was soon as successful behind the camera as he was in front of it, producing more than 20 shows, including the legendary Truth or Consequences, This Is Your Life, It Could Be You, Place the Face, Name That Tune and The Cross-Wits. At its zenith, REP had an unprecedented 17 half-hours of programming on television, with five shows airing simultaneously on two networks.
Part of the winning formula of Ralph Edwards’ shows was that they sprang from real life. In 1940, Edwards created his first radio show, Truth or Consequences, based on a game he played as a boy on his family’s farm. Filled with zany antics, stunts and contests, the program went on to make broadcast history as radio’s number one audience participation show.
It was wartime, and the show’s "good gesture" acts often reunited servicemen and their families. In 1946, Edwards coined the phrase “This Is Your Life!”’ while introducing a wounded soldier’s friends and family, as his life story unfolded on-air. The fan mail poured in. Realizing that he had discovered an exciting new entertainment format - and catch phrase - Edwards launched This Is Your Life on radio in 1948 and introduced it to live television in 1952.
The stage called to Ralph Edwards from a young age. After catching the acting bug in high school, he performed in summer stock in Holyoke, Massachusetts and Santa Fe, New Mexico. He appeared in six feature films, including The Bamboo Blonde, with Frances Langford, Seven Days’ Leave, with Lucille Ball and Victor Mature, and I’ll Cry Tomorrow, with Susan Hayward.
As television replaced radio in America’s living rooms, Ralph Edwards parlayed his foresight and talents into the new medium. A visionary in radio, he became one in television as well, developing many of the now-standard production techniques, including the multiple-camera, live-on-film format, still used in sitcoms today. A “people person” with an innate feel for what audiences wanted, Edwards is considered by many to be the “Godfather” of game shows and reality-based programming, paving the way for the reality shows that dominate television today. “I like to think of my shows as people shows,” Edwards said. “The people are the stars of the shows.”
Ralph Edwards was a pioneer in cause marketing, earning his
big-hearted reputation by coupling the joy of entertainment with the joy of giving. Edwards’ lifelong dedication to his community, to
the arts and to education includes generous support for the 100 Club, the University of California at Berkeley Fellows and the Los Angeles
Music Center, among others. Believing that good deeds are good business, Ralph Edwards and Ralph Edwards Productions have a commendable
history of philanthropy, using scores of entertainment properties to raise billions of dollars for worthy causes.
HONORS AND SELECTED AWARDS
Ralph Edwards received hundreds of honors during his distinguished career. Three Emmy® Awards and a Golden Globe® Award, as well as Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce recognized Edwards’ many contributions to the world of entertainment.
Edwards has also been honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - one for radio and one for television.
Ralph Edwards received a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama from the University of California at Berkeley in 1935. To help pay his way through college, Edwards held jobs at local radio stations in Oakland and San Francisco, starting him on the road to a world-famous career.