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Jim Lange: Host of ‘The Dating Game’

Jim_Lange_1971A newspaper feature writer gushed in 1969 that Jim Lange, the host of The Dating Game, personified “the swinging, nattily dressed bachelor.” The description might seem amusingly quaint today, but then again, so would the show itself. During its original run from 1965 to 1973, The Dating Game – in which a “bachelorette” picked one of three prospective bachelors hidden behind a screen, or vice-versa, by asking provocative questions – was an awkward artifact of society’s evolving attitudes about sexual freedom and openness.

Lange, who died on Feb. 25 at age 81 in Mill Valley, Calif., himself actually was a bit of a catch, as they used to say, as eventually was evidenced by his 1978 marriage to onetime Miss America Nancy Fleming Lange. But on the show, the melodious-voiced former announcer for Tennessee Ernie Ford functioned as a G-rated version of Hugh Hefner, a friendly middle-aged hunk who helped reassure viewers and contestants alike that despite the implicit naughtiness, this was all good clean fun. Thanks to Lange’s deftness, the concept worked so well that The Dating Game also served as a launching pad for numerous celebrities who got early airtime as contestants on the show. Here are a few examples:



Photo: Lange in 1971