Jim Perry (television personality)

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Jim Perry
BornJames Edward Dooley
(1933-11-09) November 9, 1933 (age 81)
Camden, New Jersey
OccupationTV presenter, game show presenter, singer
Years active1960–1995
TelevisionDefinition, Card Sharks, $ale of the Century
Spouse(s)June Perry (m. June 29, 1959-present)
ChildrenSean and Erin
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Jim Perry
BornJames Edward Dooley
(1933-11-09) November 9, 1933 (age 81)
Camden, New Jersey
OccupationTV presenter, game show presenter, singer
Years active1960–1995
TelevisionDefinition, Card Sharks, $ale of the Century
Spouse(s)June Perry (m. June 29, 1959-present)
ChildrenSean and Erin

Jim Perry (born November 9, 1933) is a former Canadian-American television game show host,[1] singer, announcer, and performer in the 1970s and 1980s. He has had success on both Canadian and American television, and is best known for his roles as a host on the American game shows Card Sharks and $ale of the Century, as well as the Canadian game shows Definition and Headline Hunters. Perry is also known as the host of the Miss Canada pageant in the 1970s and 1980s.

Early career[edit]

Jim Perry was born James Edward Dooley[2] in Camden, New Jersey. His mother, Genevieve Perry, was a record holding swimmer,[citation needed] as well as a known marathon dancer. His father, Edward Dooley, was a musician.

Perry started out as a singer in Special Services after college (University of Pennsylvania), working on Armed Forces Radio during the Korean War. After the service, he worked for a short time at General Electric and then replaced Eddie Fisher as the staff vocalist at Grossingers in the Catskill Mountains and later did comedy working with Sid Caesar as his straight man for several years (which included a three-year stint with Caesar in Las Vegas). These were under his birth name of Jim Dooley. Due to a name conflict with AFTRA, Jim took his mother's maiden name of Perry when he began his television work.

While briefly attending Pleasanton High School in Pleasanton, CA, Perry was an outstanding basketball player thanks in part to his height (at 6'4"); he graduated in 1952. He was often nicknamed Big Jim because of his height. He was an avid runner, who when he became a nationally recognized emcee, was often seen jogging onto the set as he was being introduced on a few of his game shows.

His first appearance as a TV host came in Canada with the popular game show Fractured Phrases (1965). Afterwards he presided over several other game shows, including Eye Bet and The Money Makers (aka Bingo at Home), the latter also airing on syndicated television in some US markets for 13 weeks in 1969. Although Perry is American by birth, he and his family emigrated to Canada in the early 1970s and moved back to the U.S. in the late 1970s when he was hired to host Card Sharks. He still holds citizenship in both countries.

Perry also served as an announcer for That Show starring Joan Rivers, a short-lived two month series that aired in 1969 on syndicated television. He also appeared in a few television commercials, including one for Morton Salt. From 1969 to 1972 he was a weekend overnight DJ at WABC radio in New York.

In 1974, Perry became the announcer of the CTV game show Definition, a Hangman-based, pre-Wheel of Fortune series which would become the longest-running game show in Canadian television history. After a few weeks of announcing the show, Perry moved from the announcer position to the host position (replacing original host Bob McLean), and remained there until the show ended its run in 1989. Perry also hosted another long-running game show, Headline Hunters, which lasted from 1972 until 1983, with a year of repeats the following year.

Dave Devall, a well-known Toronto weather personality, became Perry's announcer on most of his Canadian game shows. In the United States, his partners included Gene Wood and Jay Stewart. He also did work alongside famed announcers Jack Clark (on the Twisters pilot), Don Morrow (from 1988-89 on Sale of the Century), Bob Hilton (on Card Sharks), Johnny Olson (also on Card Sharks, including the two pilots) and Charlie O'Donnell (Card Sharks).

In addition, Jim presided as emcee of the annual Miss Canada Pageant, a job he held from 1967 until 1990, about the same length of time his U.S. counterpart Bob Barker presided over the Miss USA Pageant on CBS. Like Bert Parks in the United States, Perry, a talented singer, would sing the pageant's closing song, The Fairest Girl in Canada soon after the new Miss Canada was crowned. This practice, however, ended in the 1980s. Again, Dave Devall worked alongside Perry as the pageant's off-screen announcer.

While hosting the 1975 Miss Canada pageant, during a commercial break, a female protester hit Perry with a packet of flour while on camera, claiming that the pageant was sexist. Perry, though shaken from the incident, regained his composure and continued on with the broadcast as if nothing had happened.

Perry's first major American network hosting tenure came in 1967, with a short-lived charades-type game called It's Your Move. The series was produced in Canada for syndication in the United States. Another game show also produced in Canada for syndicated TV in the U.S., The Moneymakers (a game based on Bingo), aired in 1969, originally titled Bingo at Home, in which contestants and home viewers had a chance to win money (albeit less than $100 at a time).

Stardom as an emcee[edit]

His biggest break in his native United States came in 1978 when NBC and Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions cast him for their new show Card Sharks. Perry hosted the entire NBC version and the two pilots that preceded the series, airing from April 24, 1978, until October 23, 1981. This series helped Perry begin a long association with NBC, lasting more than a decade.

Perry was twice considered as host for the daytime and the nighttime revival of Card Sharks in 1986, but due to his commitments with NBC and CTV, the daytime version was given to Bob Eubanks, and the nighttime version was hosted by Bill Rafferty.

Perry also hosted two game show pilots that never made it to television: Casino in 1981 (from Heatter-Quigley Productions), a game show combining elements of High Rollers, Gambit, and The Joker's Wild, and Twisters in 1982, which was similar in format to Jackpot and was produced by Bob Stewart Productions.

In 1982, NBC named Perry host of $ale of the Century, a revived version of the 1969-1973 series, airing from January 3, 1983, until March 24, 1989. For more than six seasons, he presided over the fast-paced Q&A game. Starting in January 1985, he added a third hosting gig to his resume, taking the reins of a nightly syndicated $ale of the Century that ran until September 1986.

His style and sensational salesmanship helped to make the show a big hit for the network in the last golden era of game shows, and made Perry one of the top game show personalities of the 1980s in the United States. Not forgetting the time he spent with Sid Caesar, Perry would often tell jokes related to some of the questions asked on $ale.

During his tenure at NBC, Perry appeared in the made-for-TV movie The Great American Traffic Jam (1980) along with fellow game show hosts Wink Martindale, Jack Clark, and Art James.

As Perry's career in his native country became prominent, he began appearing as a celebrity player on a few game shows, most notably Password Plus, Family Feud, and Wheel of Fortune.

During a 1983 appearance on Family Feud with a number of fellow emcees, Perry was involved in a memorable exchange during the Fast Money round. When asked by host Richard Dawson to name a brand of mouthwash, he first said Lavoris (which was already said by teammate/fellow host and Pennsylvanian Bill Cullen), then as time ran out, he said the green stuff. Dawson gave Perry a chance to come up with the name, but he could not remember it, so Dawson finally helped him by saying "You should look through the label with a micro...". Perry then shouted "SCOPE!!!", finally coming up with the answer. As it turned out, Perry won the round by coming up with two number-one answers and did not need the last question, in which Scope was also the number-one answer.

Success in two countries[edit]

As the result of his successful work in both the United States and Canada, Perry spent over a decade commuting between Southern California and Toronto, Ontario (except for the period between the end of taping for Card Sharks in 1981 and the beginning of taping for Sale of the Century in late 1982, where he was based in Canada; Perry did do some pilot work in the interim in Los Angeles but nothing sold). By hosting Card Sharks in the United States and Definition and Headline Hunters in Canada, Perry in 1978 became one of two emcees to simultaneously host a television game show in the United States and in Canada along with Alex Trebek, who for a brief time that year hosted High Rollers, which taped in Los Angeles at NBC, and The $128,000 Question, which Trebek took over following its move to Don Mills, Ontario in fall 1977. Geoff Edwards and Howie Mandel have since accomplished this, with Edwards helming Chain Reaction and Jackpot! for a brief period in 1989 and 1990; and Mandel hosting both the United States and Canadian English versions of Deal or No Deal simultaneously. Upon the success of Card Sharks, Jim moved his family, who had lived in Toronto, to Southern California, where they remained until his retirement.

Perry's hair went gray at an early age, and for most of the 1970s he wore his hair like that. In 1977 he began coloring his hair, returning it to its natural dark brown, and it proved to be a turning point in his career. Following his retirement Perry stopped the practice and his hair eventually turned white as he has aged.

In total, Jim Perry hosted approximately ten different game shows (including unsold pilots) in a career that spanned about 25 years. He was also involved in charitable causes, both in Southern California and Canada, and was a regular host of the annual Telemiracle telethon in Saskatchewan for many years in support of the Kinsmen Clubs in that province. His daughter Erin also appeared on several of these telethons, and on one occasion they performed a song together.

The game show host Muppet Guy Smiley is said to be modeled after Jim Perry.[citation needed]


Jim left American television and Southern California after NBC canceled Sale of the Century in 1989, and Canadian television in 1990. Jim is retired from television and lives with his wife, June, splitting their time between Florida and North Carolina. In recent years he authored two self-awareness books, and appeared in a few infomercials (mostly produced by his daughter Erin and Pat Finn). In the fall of 1991, he made a walk-on appearance on the game show Studs (host Mark DeCarlo was a contestant on Sale of the Century in 1985).

In 1994, Perry hosted a pilot for a lottery game show titled "Cash Tornado" for Mark Goodson Productions. Taped at CBS Television City's Studio 33 (Bob Barker Studio) on the same set as The New Price Is Right, the pilot was not tied to a specific lottery but would have featured three different qualifier tickets for any lottery that chose to buy the show. Three players, one representing each game (one of which was Roger Dobkowitz), played a series of games culminating with the game Avalanche, where the winner could win up to $100,000 on top of what they won earlier. The pilot also featured Gene Wood, who announced, and Lisa Stahl, also a model on The New Price Is Right, who assisted Perry. The format did not sell but a sizzle reel was recently discovered and posted on Wink Martindale's YouTube page as part of his ongoing "Wink's Vault" series.

His last television appearance was on CNBC in the late 1990s to discuss one of his books. Jim and June had previously lived in Ashland, Oregon, after leaving Southern California in the 1990s.


Jim met his wife June during his time at Grossingers. She later became a top model with the Eileen Ford agency and later, and during their time in Canada, ran her own gallery business as well. She currently operates her own pottery and gallery, Shambhala Pottery in Bakersville, North Carolina. The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on June 29, 2009.

His son, Sean Perry (born 1964), is a television producer and was a partner in Endeavor, a Beverly Hills-based talent agency, and is currently part of the reality group at the newly merged WME agency (merger of Endeavor and William Morris). Sean was in charge of production for the most recent version of Hollywood Squares and has worked on other television programs over the past decade, including ABC's Extreme Makeover. Sean, who appeared alongside his father on both Card Sharks and Sale of the Century, began his career with Reg Grundy Productions as a production staff member. Sean still lives with his wife and children in Southern California.

Jim's daughter, Erin Perry, worked with Bob Stewart Productions as an associate producer to The $25,000 Pyramid, and also served with Pat Finn's production company, In-Finn-ity Productions, as its vice-president. She is now living in Europe as a popular singer and songwriter, working as a back-up singer for several European artists including Paul Young, and since 2005 having the lead role in the European musical hit Kosmic Blues, a tribute to Janis Joplin. She also fronts her own bands, The Erin Perry Band and "Radpack".


  1. ^ Colburn, Kerry; Sorensen, Rob (2008-06-24). The U.S. of Eh?: How Canada Secretly Controls the United States and Why That's Ok. Chronicle Books. pp. 39–. ISBN 978-0-8118-6370-4. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Baber, David (2008). Television Game Show Hosts: Biographies of 32 Stars. McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub. ISBN 9780786429264. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 

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