Curt Gowdy, who over a span of seven decades brought a warmth and smooth delivery to his radio, TV and cable sportscasts and was known to millions of fishermen and hunters as The American Sportsman, died at 3:10 a.m. Monday, February 20 at the age of 86.
Gowdy passed away at his winter home in Palm Beach, Fla., surrounded by his immediate family.
The cause of death was acute leukemia.
A pioneer of radio sportscasting in the 1940s and TV in the early 1950s, Gowdy was the most prolific and versatile national sportscaster of the 1960s and 1970s.
As host and producer of the long-running The American Sportsman television series, ubiquitous with a Stetson hat and casting a dry fly, he garnered a public following that endured for the rest of life; many referring to him as the “true American sportsman.” Because of his versatility with a wide range of sports he was also described as the “voice of all seasons.”
His demanding schedule called upon to cover more major sports events than anyone in broadcasting history. It included coverage of an astounding 16 World Series, 12 Rose Bowls, nine Super Bowls, 16 MLB All-Star Games, eight Olympic Games and 24 NCAA Final Fours of collegiate basketball.
Gowdy is probably the only man who has been inducted into a total of 20 Halls of Fame comprising sports, broadcasting, conservation and fishing including the most recent, the 2006 Rose Bowl in early January. Gowdy’s other Hall of Fame inductions include The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 1981, the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984, The American Sportscasters Hall of Fame in 1985, The American Football League Hall of Fame in 1995 and The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame in 2003 to name a few.
He received 13 Emmys, six of them for ABC TV’s The American Sportsman, which he hosted from its inception for over 20 years.
Among tens of millions of fishermen and hunters across North America, Gowdy is regarded as the consummate outdoorsman for his role as the host and producer of The American Sportsman, which aired on Sunday afternoons from January to March across three decades. It was originally introduced by ABC Sports Director Roone Arledge as a competitive fishing segment filmed in 1962 on the border of Chile and Argentina for ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The American Sportsman later brought the top entertainers and athletes like Williams, Terry Bradshaw, Brooks Robinson, Phil Harris, Bing Crosby, Bill Conrad, Robert Stack, Andy Griffith, Peter O’Toole, Jonathon Winters and Ernest Borgnine who liked to fish and hunt, into millions of homes during the winter months. Presidents of the day, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn, also appeared in fishing segments.
“They were all wonderful sportsmen and for many of them it was a chance for them to get away from Hollywood, the movies, entertainment, politics or sports. For me, The American Sportsman series was some of the best times in my life,” said Curt.
Gowdy is survived by his wife Jerre, daughter Cheryl Ann of Palm Beach and Boston, and sons Curt Jr. of New Canaan, Ct. and Trevor, Beverly Farms, Mass. Curt is survived by five grandchildren; Taylor, Katie, Grace, Alexa and Trevor Curtis.
Funeral Services will take place Saturday February 25th at 1 p.m. at the Trinity Church in Copley Square Boston, Mass. A private burial will follow.
Contributions can be made to the Curt Gowdy State Park in Cheyenne,Wyoming, 1351 Hynds Lodge Road, Cheyenne, Wyoming, 82009, phone 307-632-7946.
Contributions in loving honor of Curt can also be made to the Jimmy Fund in Boston at www.jimmyfund.org. The Jimmy Fund supports the fight against cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a world-renowned pioneer in discovering and developing innovative, effective cancer therapies for both children and adults. Phone number for the Jimmy Fund is 1-800-52 JIMMY. Or gifts can be sent to the Jimmy Fund, c/o Contribution Services, 10 Brookline Place West, Brookline, Mass. 02445.