Gene Rayburn was born on December 22nd, 1917 in Christopher, Illinois. His father died when he was an infant, and his mother re-married to Milan Rubessa, whose name Gene took, thus becoming Eugene Rubessa. Gene graduated from Lindbloom Highschool in Chicago and attended Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois before moving to New York City in hopes of becoming an opera singer. Upon ariving in New York, his first job was a page for NBC. On January 1st, 1940 Gene married Helen Ticknor, and they had their only child Lynn on October 5th, 1942.
After a few years in the Air Force during World War II, training other recruits, Gene found a job in radio hosting a new genre of "morning drive" radio with Jack Lescoulie and Dee Finch. In 1954, Gene became an announcer and sidekick to Steve Allan on the original The Tonight Show, which became a huge success and boosted Gene's career. From there Gene hosted a variety of gameshows, including Make the Connection and Tic-Tac-Dough.
On December 31st, 1962, Gene began hosting the show that ultimately made his mark in history, The Match Game, which aired on NBC. The original version lasted until 1969, and then in 1973 a new version began on CBS, the most popular version to date, which Gene hosted with his signature long thin microphone. Gene hosted this new, more creative version, until its end in 1979, along with a nightly version of the same show, Match Game PM, which lasted all the way until 1981. While hosting the various incarnations of Match Game Gene also made other various television appearances, which he continued to do until shortly before his death in 1999.