For 47 years, Dennis James was host of the United Cerebral Palsy telethons, and over his life raised more than $1 billion for charities. Besides United Cerebral Palsy, he campaigned for ChildHelp USA, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Assn. and Variety Club.
Trained at Carnegie Hall's Theater School of Dramatic Arts, James was hired in TV's infancy by the Dumont Television Network as a talent who could "do it all" — announce, sell, provide commentary or act. That contract garnered him about 25 firsts in the new medium. Among them, he was the first to do a TV commercial (for Wedgwood, in the 1940s), provide sports commentary, host a variety show, emcee a game show and star in a TV drama.
In the mid-1970s, James hosted an NBC revival of the game show "Name That Tune." His other TV game shows included "Chance of a Lifetime," "The Price Is Right," "Stop the Music" and "Name's the Same."
His TV acting jobs included "Kraft Theater" and "The Dick Powell Theater," and guest roles on series like "Batman," "77 Sunset Strip" and "Fantasy Island." He also was in a few films, including "The One and Only" and "Rocky III."