Last Updated: June 12, 2024
Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$4 Million
Dec 22, 1917 - Nov 29, 1999 (81 years old)
Game Show Host, Announcer, Actor
United States of America
💰 Compare Gene Rayburn's Net Worth

What was Gene Rayburn's Net Worth?

Gene Rayburn was an American radio and television personality who had a net worth equal to $4 million at the time of his death. Gene Rayburn was best known as the host of the American television game show "The Match Game" which premiered on NBC in 1962 and became the highest-rated show on daytime television. Gene Rayburn passed away on November 29, 1999 at 81 years old from congestive heart failure.

Early Years

Eugene Peter Jeljenic was born on December 22, 1917 in Christopher, Illinois, the youngest of the two children born to Croatian immigrants Peter Jeljenic and Mary Hikec. Eugene's father died four days after his first birthday and his mother packed up and moved herself and her two children to Chicago. There, she met Milan Rubessa, who she married on November 10, 1919. After the marriage, Eugene began to use the surname of his stepfather. Eugene's older brother was killed when they were children and his mother went on to have a third child, son Milan Rubessa Jr.

Eugene Rubessa graduated from Lindblom Technical School on the south side of Chicago where he served as senior class president and a member of the theater group. He then attended Knox College, a private liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois.


Radio Fame

After finishing school, Eugene Rubessa moved to New York City to pursue an acting and opera singing career. He had chosen a stage name by shortening his first name and randomly picking a surname from the telephone directory. Once in New York, he was unable to find work in those areas so became a tour guide at NBC Studios in Rockefeller Center. He later worked as an announcer at several different radio stations before enlisting in the United States Army Air Forces and serving in World War II.

Gene Rayburn's first radio show was the morning drive show "Anything Goes" which he hosted with American radio and television announcer Jack Lescoulie. Later he hosted the radio show "Rayburn & Finch" with Dee Finch. Both shows were broadcast by New York radio station WNEW.

In 1961, Gene Rayburn hosted the American weekend live radio show "Monitor."

On the Stage

In 1961 Gene Rayburn took over the lead role in the Broadway stage musical "Bye Bye Birdie" when Dick Van Dyke left the production to star in "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

The Move to Television

In 1953 Gene Rayburn began his television career as the original announcer of "Tonight," an American talk show co-created and hosted by American entertainer Steve Allen. The show would go on to become "The Tonight Show."

In 1955 Gene Rayburn hosted the American television game show "Make the Connection." He went on to host the television games shows "Choose Up Sides" and "Tic Tac Dough" in 1956, and "Dough Re Mi" in 1958. In 1962 he hosted the game show "Play Your Hunch."

From 1962 to 1969, Gene Rayburn hosted "The Match Game" broadcast by NBC. When the show was brought back to television in 1973 on CBS, Gene Rayburn returned as the host and it became the highest rated show on daytime television. "The Match Game" featured regular panelists; British actor and comedian Richard Dawson, Canadian-American actress and singer Brett Somers and American actor and comedian Charles Nelson Reilly. The show ran until 1979 then was in syndication until 1982. A nighttime version of the show ran in syndication from 1975 to 1981.

In 1983 Gene Rayburn became the host of "Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour," an American television game show on NBC which only aired for nine months.

In 1985 Gene Rayburn hosted the game show "Break the Bank" which only aired for 13 weeks. In 1989 he hosted "The Movie Masters," a cable television game show that only aired for five months.

In 1972 Gene Rayburn emceed "The Amateur's Guide to Love," an American television game show which appeared on CBS. It aired for only three months.

In 1987 Gene Rayburn was scheduled to begin hosting a revival of "The Match Game" when the show's producers learned that he was older than they assumed. They decided against employing him to host the show. Due to age discrimination, after his actual age was made public, Gene Rayburn had a very difficult time obtaining employment in the entertainment industry.

Beyond Game Shows

In 1976 and 1977, Gene Rayburn and his wife co-hosted the Drum Corps International finals.

Gene Rayburn appeared as a guest on several television game shows including; "To Tell the Truth," "Card Sharks," "Tattletales" and "What's My Line?"

Gene Rayburn also appeared as a guest on the television shows "The Love Boat," "Fantasy Island," "Saturday Night Live," "The Maury Povich Show," "The Late Show with Ross Shafer," "Howard Stern" and "Vicki!"

Personal Life

Gene Rayburn married Helen Ticknor in 1940. They had one daughter, Lynne.


Gene Rayburn was nominated three times for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host.

In 1999, Gene Rayburn was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Golden Years

As he aged, Gene Rayburn suffered with dementia. On November 29, 1999, one month after appearing in person to accept his Lifetime Achievement Award, he died of heart failure at his daughter's Massachusetts home. He was later cremated and his ashes were spread in the garden there.

On June 4, 2000, six months after Gene Rayburn's death, Arts & Entertainment Television aired his final television appearance, an interview he gave for an episode of the show "Biography" which focused on his longtime boss Mark Goodson.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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