John Charles Daly: American journalist and game show host (1914 - 1991) | Biography
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John Charles Daly
American journalist and game show host

John Charles Daly

John Charles Daly
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American journalist and game show host
Was Journalist Television presenter Radio personality
From United States of America South Africa
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio Journalism
Gender male
Birth 20 February 1914, Johannesburg, South Africa
Death 24 February 1991, Chevy Chase, USA (aged 77 years)
Star sign Pisces
Boston College
Peabody Award  
John Charles Daly
The details (from wikipedia)


John Charles Patrick Croghan Daly (February 20, 1914 – February 24, 1991), generally known as John Charles Daly or simply John Daly, was a South African-born American radio and television personality, CBS News broadcast journalist, ABC News executive and TV anchor and a game show host, best known as the host and moderator of the CBS television panel show What's My Line?

In World War II, he was the first national correspondent to report the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as covering much of the front-line news from Europe and North Africa.

Early life

The second of two brothers, Daly was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, where his American father worked as a geologist. While in Johannesburg, Daly attended Marist Brothers College. After his father died of a tropical fever, Daly's mother moved the family to Boston, Massachusetts. He attended the Tilton School and later served on its board of directors for many years and contributed to the construction or restoration of many buildings on campus. He did his post-secondary education at a junior college and then finished his studies graduating from Boston College. Daly worked for a time in a wool factory and for a transit company in Washington before becoming a reporter for NBC Radio and then CBS.



Daly began his broadcasting career as a reporter for NBC Radio, and then for WJSV (now WTOP), the local CBS Radio Network affiliate in Washington, D.C., serving as CBS' White House correspondent. He appears on the famous "One Day in Radio" tapes of September 21, 1939, in which WJSV preserved its entire broadcast day for posterity.

Through covering the Roosevelt White House, Daly became known to the national CBS audience as the network announcer for many of the President's speeches. In late 1941, Daly transferred to New York City, where he became anchor of The World Today. During World War II, he covered the news from London as well as the North African and Italian fronts. Daly was a war correspondent in 1943 in Italy during Gen. George S. Patton's infamous "slapping incidents". After the war, he was a lead reporter on CBS Radio's news/entertainment program CBS Is There (later known on TV as You Are There), which recreated the great events of history as if CBS correspondents were on the scene.

Famous broadcasts

As a reporter for the CBS radio network, Daly was the voice of two historic announcements. He was the first national correspondent to deliver the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941, and he was also the first to relay the wire service report of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, interrupting the program Wilderness Road to deliver the news. Recreations of those bulletins have been preserved on historical record album retrospectives and radio and television documentaries. Among the first were the Columbia Records spoken word album I Can Hear It Now.

In July, 1959, along with the Associated Press writer John Scali, he reported from Moscow on the famous Kitchen Debate between USSR General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev and then U.S. Vice President Richard M. Nixon in 1959.


Daly's first foray into television was as a panelist on the game show Celebrity Time. This led to a job in 1950 as the host and moderator on a new panel show produced by GoodsonTodman, What's My Line? The show lasted 17 years with Daly hosting all but four episodes of the weekly series.

Moderator John Daly in CBS publicity photo for What's My Line? (1950)

In 1954–55, in addition to his duties with What's My Line?, Daly also hosted the final year of the NBC Television game show Who Said That?, in which celebrities tried to determine the speaker of quotations taken from recent news reports.

On What's My Line?, each panelist introduced the next in line at the start of the show. Upon Fred Allen's death in 1956, Random House book publisher co-founder and humorist Bennett Cerf became the anchor panelist who would usually, but not always, introduce Daly. Cerf usually prefaced his introduction with a pun or joke that over time became a pun or joke at Daly's expense. Daly would then often fire back his own retort. Cerf and Daly enjoyed a friendly feud from across the stage for the remainder of the history of the program. The mystery guest on the final CBS program (aired September 3, 1967) was Daly himself. Daly had received many letters over the years asking him to fill that role; until the finale he never could, because Daly served as the "emergency mystery guest", in case the scheduled celebrity failed to show on the live program.

Daly and fellow broadcaster Quincy Howe at Presidential convention coverage
Daly and Howe covering a Presidential convention for ABC News

According to producer Gil Fates, Daly was resistant to changes that would have appealed to a younger audience but might have diminished the show's dignity. For example, Daly usually referred to the panelists formally, e.g., as "Mr. Cerf." The producers, Fates said, were unable to challenge Daly for fear of losing him as the show's moderator. The series spawned a brief radio version in 1952 that was also hosted by Daly. The series also inspired a multitude of concurrent international versions and a syndicated U.S. revival in 1968 in which Daly did not participate. He was a vice president at ABC during the 1950s. He did hosting duties on Who Said That?, It's News to Me, We Take Your Word, and Open Hearing and was a narrator on The Voice of Firestone starting in 1958.

He also had several television and movie guest appearances from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s, including an uncredited role in Bye Bye Birdie (as the reporter announcing the title character's induction into the Army) and as the narrator, in a mock documentary style, on the premiere episode of the rural comedy series Green Acres. In 1949 he starred in the short-lived CBS Television newspaper drama The Front Page, where it was thought that his presence and journalistic experience would give the series more authenticity.

During the 1950s, Daly became the vice president in charge of news, special events, and public affairs, religious programs and sports for ABC and won three Peabody Awards. From 1953 to 1960, he anchored ABC News broadcasts and was the face of the network's news division, even though What's My Line? was then on competing CBS. In addition, he provided the voice of a Conelrad radio announcer on the May 18, 1954 broadcast of The Motorola Television Hour on ABC entitled Atomic Attack, which showcases a story about a family in a New York City suburb dealing with the aftermath of an H-bomb attack fifty miles away. At the time, this was a very rare instance of a television personality working on two different US broadcast TV networks simultaneously. (Daly did not work for CBS but for the producers of What's My Line?, Goodson-Todman Productions. He also filled in occasionally on NBC's The Today Show, making Daly one of the few people to work simultaneously on all three networks.) His closing line on the ABC Newscast was "Good night, and a good tomorrow." Daly resigned from ABC on November 16, 1960, after the network preempted the first hour of 1960 presidential election night coverage to show Bugs Bunny cartoons and The Rifleman from 7:30 to 8:30 pm while CBS and NBC were covering returns from the KennedyNixon presidential election and other major races. In an accompanying article on the same page, however, it was stated that the reason for his resignation was the decision of the then-president of ABC, Leonard Goldenson, to bring in Time Inc. to co-produce documentaries that had previously been under Daly's direction for the network.

Daly continued on What's My Line? until 1967. In the 1962–63 season, the program was in competition with Howard K. Smith's News and Comment program on ABC News. A former CBS correspondent, Smith switched networks early in 1961, by which time Daly had already resigned from ABC. Smith later took over Daly's former role as anchor of ABC Evening News. In May 1967, during the final year of What's My Line?, it was announced that Daly would become the director of the Voice of America after the show ended. He assumed the position on September 20, 1967, but lasted only until June 6, 1968, when he resigned over a claim that Leonard H. Marks, his superior at the U.S. Information Agency, had been making personnel changes behind Daly's back.

”The First Family” President Kennedy impersonator Vaughn Meader’s appearance as the “Mystery Guest” on CBS Television’s ‘’’What’s My Line’’’ the evening of the 1962 NFL Championship Game, December 30, 1962. John Charles Daly is on the right.

Daly did not host the syndicated version of What's My Line?, although he did co-host a 25th-anniversary program about the show for ABC in 1975. Daly was a member of the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors from 1966 to 1982. He was a frequent forum moderator for the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute throughout the 1980s.

Tilton School

At his alma mater, the Tilton School, there is an award named for Daly given to "persons whose pursuit of excellence and deep commitment as a member of the school family resembles that of John Daly's involvement with Tilton: continuous and widely known expressions of support in word and deed, inspiring others to reach goals that common experience dictates are impossible. Every year during Alumni Weekend Tilton School recognizes outstanding alumni during School Meeting on Saturday. Four awards for consideration are Alumnus of the Year, George L. Plimpton Award, John Charles Daly Award, and Artist Hall of Fame.

Personal life

He married twice, first to Margaret Griswell Neal in January 1937. The marriage resulted in two sons, John Neal Daly and John Charles Daly III, and a daughter Helene Grant "Bunsy" Daly. It ended in divorce in April 1959.

On December 22, 1960, Daly married Virginia Warren, daughter of then–chief justice Earl Warren, in San Francisco. They were married for over 30 years, until Daly's death. The marriage yielded three children: John Warren Daly, John Earl Jameson Daly, and Nina Elisabeth Daly.


Daly died February 24, 1991 at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland of cardiac arrest at the age of 77.

Awards and nominations

Emmy Awards

  • 1955: Won, "Best News Reporter or Commentator"—ABC
  • 1956: Nominated, "Best News Commentator or Reporter"—ABC
  • 1956: Nominated, "Best MC or Program Host, Male or Female"—CBS
  • 1957: Nominated, "Best News Commentator"—ABC
  • 1958: Nominated, "Best News Commentator"—ABC
  • 1959: Nominated, "Best News Commentator or Analyst"—ABC

Golden Globe Award

  • 1962: Won, "Best TV Star—Male"

Peabody Award

  • 1954: Won Personal Award, Radio-Television News.
  • 1956: Won ABC Television, Television News for Coverage of the National Political Conventions.
  • 1957: Won ABC Television, "Prologue '58."
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 13 May 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who was John Charles Daly?
A: John Charles Daly was an American journalist, game show host, and television personality. He was the host and moderator of the CBS game show What's My Line?, and a panelist on the ABC political show The Last Word.
Q: When was John Charles Daly born?
A: John Charles Daly was born on February 20, 1914.
Q: What was John Charles Daly's role in World War II?
A: During World War II, John Charles Daly was a correspondent for CBS Radio and covered the major battles in Europe and North Africa.
Q: Did John Charles Daly receive any awards for his work?
A: Yes, John Charles Daly was nominated for a total of 13 Emmy Awards and won three. He was also awarded the Peabody Award in 1951 for his coverage of the Korean War.
Q: When did John Charles Daly pass away?
A: John Charles Daly passed away on February 24, 1991, at the age of 77.
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