2021-01-28 13:29:13 UTC
It is with sadness that we share the news of Sonny's passing in Los Angeles on Sunday January 24th of Covid Related Pneumonia.
We will post more as we learn more of where to send your condolences.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Born Irwin Fox
June 17, 1925
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died January 24, 2021 (aged 95)
Occupation Television host, executive and broadcasting consultant
Known for Host of Wonderama
Irwin "Sonny" Fox (born June 17, 1925 - January 24, 2021) was an American television host, executive and broadcasting consultant, who was the fourth full-time host of the children's television program, Wonderama.
Early life, education and army experience
Born June 17, 1925, in Brooklyn, New York, Fox attended James Madison High School, in the Midwood/Madison section of Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in a traditional Jewish family. Fox was a World War II veteran and, as a POW of the Germans, witnessed the heroism of Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds who saved Fox' life by saying, "We're all Jews" when the Nazi officers demanded that all Jewish POWs be pointed out.
Early years: 1954-1955
Fox's first experience in children's programming came in 1954, with a St. Louis program, The Finder on KETC-TV, a children's news and travelogue program. His first national exposure came when CBS brought him aboard in 1955. For three years he co-hosted the children's travelogue, Let's Take a Trip..."Taking two children on sort of an electronic field trip every week--live, remote location, no audience, no sponsors," Fox himself described that show, during interviews for PBS's The American Experience.
The $64,000 Challenge
In 1956, Fox became the first host of the game show The $64,000 Challenge, a spinoff of the The $64,000 Question. In his first appearance he was identified as "Bill Fox," but by the second program he became "Sonny Fox" because, he claimed, the name "Bill Fox" had been registered by another entertainment personality; in the same interview Fox stated his difficulties as a game show host included his "predilection for asking the answers." Fox was replaced a few weeks into the series by Ralph Story.
Fox's brief tenure on the show may have enabled him to escape tainting from the 1950s quiz show scandals, and during an interview on American Experience he reported being horrified by related testimony to Congress—including that of child star Patty Duke, who had participated on The $64,000 Challenge and who later admitted that she had been coached to lie to Congressional investigators. Fox's later involvement in game show hosting was limited to occasional substitutions for Bill Cullen (the original host of The Price Is Right) and Bud Collyer (host of Beat the Clock and To Tell the Truth), though he did later host the first season of The Movie Game in 1969-70.
In 1959, the independent television station group Metromedia (born from the former DuMont Network) hired Fox to host Wonderama on its New York flagship station, WABD (later becoming WNEW-TV), succeeding the team of Bill Britten and Doris Faye. Fox became Wonderama's sole host until 1967. Fox's version of the program was a mixture of slapstick and serious content, with the marathon Wonderama (during Fox's tenure the show ran four hours Sunday mornings) including Shakespearean dramatizations, guest celebrities, magic demonstrations (customarily by magician James "The Amazing" Randi), art instruction, spelling bees, learning games, or other elements.
Just for Fun
In 1959 Fox created and hosted the Saturday morning children's television show Just For Fun! which, like Wonderama, aired on WNEW-TV in New York. Based upon the "color war" team competitions common at children's summer camp, participants engaged in a wide range of contests. Guests on the program included Yogi Berra, Tim Conway, Huntz Hall, Charlotte Rae, and Soupy Sales. Fox left the program in 1965.
On Your Mark
In 1960, Fox hosted ABC's first original Saturday morning show, On Your Mark, a game show in which children answered questions about various professions. Because Fox was under "exclusive" contract to WNEW-TV, On Your Mark aired on Channel 5 in New York, instead of ABC's station WABC-TV. On Your Mark lasted one season.
Other media activities
In 1966 Fox appeared in the film The Christmas That Almost Wasn't. In 1967 Fox co-hosted a daily talk/variety show for adults titled The New Yorkers on WNEW-TV, with co-hosts Penelope Wilson and Gloria Okon, plus newsman Stewart Klein. In 1976 Fox hosted the California-based Way Out Games, and during 1977 he ran children's programming for NBC. During the 1970s Fox served as a lecturer at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
In the 1970s , Fox joined and later became the chairman of the board for Population Communications International (PCI), a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to improving family planning issues through popular media. PCI's work included working with U.S. and international soap opera producers, helping them develop "more healthful" family planning story lines.
In September 2012, Fox published his memoirs, titled But You Made the Front Page! Wonderama, Wars and a Whole Bunch of Life.