COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Radio and television personality Garry Moore, who revealed hidden facts about celebrities and common folks alike on 'I've Got a Secret, died Sunday at the age of 78.
At the height of his career in 1963, he was the highest paid entertainer on television, earning $43,000 a week or $2.2 million a year.
Moore's forte was comedy, but he also was an excellent master of ceremonies, a position he enjoyed for several years on 'I've Got a Secret.'
He was born Thomas Garrison Morfit in Baltimore on Jan. 31, 1915. He used his real name on radio for a number of seasons after getting his break when he replaced an ailing comedian. He thought the name was too stuffy for the people out in Radioland so he asked listeners to 'Club Matinee' to change it. A woman in Pittsburgh won the contest with the name Garry Moore.
One of Moore's most successful television programs was 'The Garry Moore Show,' which was featured for six years. Regulars on the show were Durwood Kirby and Carol Burnett.
Moore started his career as a continuity writer for Station WBAL in Baltimore. He was interested in serious writing and was collaborating with F. Scott Fitzgerald on a play that was never produced. During this period he was called to replace an ailing comedian and was an immediate hit. He said the laughter he won convinced him he should perform before the mike.
In his quest for laughs, Moore said he did things such as climbing chandeliers and kissing monkeys.
He then became an announcer and sportscaster on KWK, a St. Louis, Mo. , station. Moore's next stop was Chicago where he was featured in 'Club Matinee' as both writer and commedian.
Another Moore show, 'Everything Goes,' was a success and Garry was tapped to join Jimmy Durante in an evening feature. He remained with Durante for a short time and then moved to 'Take It or Leave It' and 'Breakfast in Hollywood.'
Daytime TV beckoned and 'The Garry Moore' show had its beginning.
During the 'Garry Moore Show' years, Moore spent all of his working time with his writers putting together the hour-long, five-day-a-week programs. He was especially concerned with humor, trying to get genuine laughs from his audience.
Spontaneous laughter, he said at one time, meant 'more to us comedians than our weekly paycheck.
'That's the real payoff,' he said.
Moore was married to the former Eleanor Little of Richmond, Va., in 1939. They had two children, Mason and Garry, Jr.