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Broadcaster Hugh Downs is one of the most familiar American figures in the history of television. His work on “The Today Show,” “20/20,” as a reporter, anchor and game show host for “Concentration” made him a household name. Downs holds the Guinness world record for the most hours of network airtime in the 20th century (10,637 hours from 1951-1999).
What might be less understood about Downs are his roles as devoted husband, artist and adventurer. Downs has chosen Arizona State University to house more than 650 of his personal and professional items – from lifetime achievement awards to his mother’s poetry book – curated by the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.
One of the most personal items in the collection, said Downs, is a sextant. It was purchased by his children as a birthday gift for his crossing of the Pacific. It took Down’s four years to plan his adventure. He set sail from Ft. Lauderdale in 1965 headed for Tahiti, a distance of 3,400 miles. His book “Shoal of Stars” was based on his ship’s log and published in 1967. A first edition of his book is also included in the collection.
The Hugh Downs Collection is intended to promote the pursuit of undergraduate and graduate studies related to the field of human communication, promote constructive dialogue and scholarly research related to the life and career of the school’s distinguished namesake, and generally promote the effective communication between individuals in all aspects of life.
To learn more about Downs and the items in the Downs Collection, please visit the new interactive College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Magazine app with videos, photo galleries and audio clips. If you do not have an iPad or tablet, read more here.
The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication is an academic unit in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.