Jim Lange, who died Tuesday morning of a heart attack at age 81, was best known as the host of “The Dating Game.” Lange could have never been a contestant on the show, as he was married for almost his entire tenure as host.
Most recently, Lange was married to Nancy Fleming, best known as Miss America 1961. Fleming won her local competition, Miss White Lake, before capturing the title of Miss Michigan.
Lange was previously married to Fay Madison from 1953 to 1975. He married Fleming in 1978.
Lange and Fleming lived in Marin County, Calif. Residents of the Golden State had Fleming in their minds as they learned of Lange’s passing Wednesday.
— James Batz (@jimbatz) February 27, 2014
@DanAshleyABC7 I'm sorry to hear that, I always like him when he was on the radio. My condolences to his wife Nancy Fleming.
— TimH (@t_jh2009) February 27, 2014
While Lange was best known for hosting “The Dating Game” from 1965 to 1980, he also hosted "Name That Tune" from 1984-1985.
Like her husband, Fleming also worked in entertainment. The former Miss America served as a host and interviewer for ABC, Lifetime and PBS. During his tenure on “The Dating Game,” Lange had a number of celebrity guests appear on the TV show, including a young Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Martin and Farrah Fawcett. Another contestant was Jennifer Granholm, who was governor of Michigan decades later.
The Minnesota native got his start in the entertainment business by winning an audition at a local radio station when he was 15 years old, according to the Associated Press. He hosted the show for two years, then enrolled at the University of Minnesota and served in the Marines for three years.
“As much as he's known for his television work, his real love was radio," Fleming told the AP. "He loved doing local radio, especially before it was computerized."