Gene Rayburn (December 22, 1917 – November 29, 1999) was an American radio and television personality. Born Eugene Rubessa (pronounced /ruːˈbeɪʃə/) in Christopher, Illinois, he was an only child of Croatian immigrants and graduated from Lindblom Technical High School and later from Knox College. While a student at Lindblom, he was Senior Class President and acted in the plays, "Robert of Sicily," and, "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch." On the eleventh episode of, "Match Game '75," the host lambasted the director, a college graduate, for botching a word. Rayburn declared that he knew it and was, "not a high school graduate."
Rayburn was married to Helen Ticknor from 1940 until her death in October 1996. They had one child, a daughter, Lynn. After the birth of their child, Rayburn enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.
He chose his stage name by randomly pointing at a page in the telephone book, after being told Rubessa sounded, "too Italian."