Jan Murray

Jan Murray

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Jan Murray
TV: North side of the 6100 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Actor | Comedian | TV Host
Born Murray Janofsky on Oct. 4, 1916 in New York, NY
Died July 2, 2006 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Jan Murray, one of a generation of comics who honed their skills on the borscht belt before conquering television, emceed nine game shows during television's golden era.

One of the most popular was "Treasure Hunt," which aired on ABC and later NBC from 1957 to 1959, in which the contestant who gave the most correct answers chose one of 30 "treasure boxes" for a prize.

Murray also hosted "Blind Date," "Chain Letter," "Dollar a Second," "Go Lucky," "Charge Account," "Meet Your Match," "Sing It Again" and "Songs for Sale." He also starred in a short-lived variety show for NBC, "Jan Murray Time," with cohost Tina Louise.

Although highly successful in game shows, Murray shifted to movies in the late 1960s and appeared in a variety of roles, including a Nazi war criminal in "A Man Called Dagger" (1967) and Annette Funicello's father in "Thunder Alley" (1967).

Born Murray Janofsky in New York, he grew up going to 25-cent vaudeville shows with his mother. When she got sick and could not attend, he found a way to keep her entertained.

"I used to come back, stand at the foot of her bed and describe the whole show — the tricks the opening juggler act did, the female performer and what she wore and what she sang," Murray told the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles in 2005. "But when it came to the comedian, I knew his whole ... act."

By 18, he was performing at the Melody Club in Union City, N.J., a two-hour commute by subway and train.

Soon he was a regular at Catskills resorts, practicing his routines on "the fat ladies in the exercise room." He was a "tummler," Yiddish for an all-around entertainer.

"Let's say I polished my timing on the borscht belt," he told The Times in 1966.

"Being in a resort area, you would play to practically the same audience every night, only you'd do different things. One night I'd do stand-up comedy, the next night I'd be the emcee, and then we'd have game night and campfire night, when we'd just tell stories, and then an evening of drama. Every day you were something else."

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