Successful singer and talk show host Mike Douglas was a prolific personality in the 1950s and '60s. Douglas has been compared to several other talk show hosts also born in the Midwest such as Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, and Phil Donahue. Referred to as "the Cary Grant of the coffee break," Douglas charmed American housewives with style, personality, and good looks.
Douglas was born in Chicago and began a career in show business as a singer. He started out as a choir boy in school and turned pro in 1945. After serving a stint in the U.S. Navy, Douglas turned down a Hollywood singing opportunity to join the Kay Kyser band. He stayed with the band more than five years, performing concerts, and playing on the radio and on television. Michael Douglas & the Campus Kids was his successful contribution to the Kay Kyser band. For two years, he was a vocalist for the quiz show Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge.
When he made his debut in show business, his personal life was also taking a successful turn. He met Genevieve Purnell when the two were still in their teens and they fell in love. The two met in Oklahoma and eloped, forging the marriage certificate because neither was of legal marrying age. Genevieve claimed she was 19. Together they have three daughters.
1950 brought about significant changes for Douglas' career. Kay Kyser had quit show business, leaving Douglas to fend for himself in a profession of uncertainty. For starters, he dubbed the singing voice of Prince Charming in Cinderella. He became a regular on local Chicago variety shows including Hi Ladies, the prime-time Music Show, and the daytime variety show Club 60. In 1961, the talented singer was hailed to Cleveland by the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company to host his own talk show. He supplemented his income by singing in Hollywood-like piano bars. The Mike Douglas Show was syndicated nationally in 1963 and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Daytime Performance. It was a major accomplishment as it was the first daytime talk show to win an Emmy. As other daytime shows became popular, The Mike Douglas Show gave way to younger hosts like John Davidson, and more distinctive shows like Phil Donahue's. Douglas' show finally ended in 1982.
Douglas' credits also include acting in films and television. He played the Governor in the 1976 film Gator. He also appeared in The Incredible Shrinking Woman and Birds of Prey. Aside from films, he made guest appearances on such popular '80s shows as Knots Landing and The Greatest American Hero. Known as "the All-American Mommy's boy," Douglas has continued his singing career, releasing several albums. As a tribute to his Irish heritage he recorded Mike Douglas Sings Everybody's Favorite Irish Songs. Douglas has been producing and singing songs for more than four decades. His musical success has only been enhanced by his versatility and personality. He died in Florida at the age 81, on August 11, 2006. ~ Kim Summers, Rovi