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Today Show Hosts Past and Present

From Galloway to Guthrie, a look at both former and current ‘Today’ hosts

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Today Show Hosts Past and Present
Adam Larkey/AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANIES, INC

With Ann Curry's departure from The Today Show in June, the popular morning talk show and news program gets set to add a new co-host to its line-up. Will that be Savannah Guthrie? Or is it worth taking a look at The Today Show's many co-hosts - and how they've come and gone - to get a sense of who the next host will be?

Dave Garroway (1952 to 1961)
Dave Garroway was The Today Show original host in 1952. The New York native was a page at NBC, working his way up through a series of positions at television and radio stations across the country. He became known as the "Roving Announcer," always able to find a story. In 1951, he hosted a variety show title Garroway at Large. The popularity of that show led NBC president Pat Weaver to hire Garroway as the host of his new entertainment/news program. When Today launched, it was panned by critics, but Garroway's easy style won over audiences and, eventually, critics as well. After nearly 10 years on the program - and while secretly battling depression - Garroway said goodbye to Today, saying he wanted to spend more time with his kids.

John Chancellor (1961 to 1962)
John Chancellor was a true newsman and the popular host of the NBC Nightly News. When Garroway resigned from Today, Chancellor was asked to step in. Chancellor agreed to give it a try, but he never connected with audiences and felt uncomfortable in the role of an easy-going-host. He asked to be released from his contract and NBC agreed. Chancellor left Today 14 months after he started.

Hugh Downs (1962 to 1971)
Chancellor was replaced by Akron, Ohio, native Hugh Downs, who had made a name for himself as a news anchor, author game show host, music composer and so much more. Downs was considered one of Today's most popular hosts, choosing to leave after nearly 10 years on the show.

Frank McGee (1971 to 1974)
Frank McGee was serious news journalist and, after taking the reins of The Today Show in 1971, steered the show in that same direction. McGee insisted on opening and closing the show alone - possibly because he was threatened by up-and-coming journalist < a href=>Barbara Walters, who had been a part of Today since 1961. So threatened by Walters, McGee also insisted on asking guests the first three questions of an interview, before Walters could join in. McGee left Today in 1974 after losing his battle with bone cancer.

Barbara Walters (1974 - 1976)
After McGee's untimely departure, NBC finally named Barbara Walters co-host of Today, making her the first female co-host of the program. Walters was already acting in the capacity for several years prior. Walters left The Today Show to co-anchor the ABC Evening News.

Jim Hartz (1974 to 1976)
Oklahoma native Jim Hartz made his way through a series of broadcasting roles before becoming anchor of the late evening news at WNBC in New York. From there, the network asked him to join Barbara Walters as co-host of The Today Show. Hartz stuck with the show for two years, before Walters left and NBC decided to overhaul the program.

Tom Brokaw (1976 to 1981)
Today best known as the former anchor of NBC Nightly News and author of The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw became well-known as co-host of Today with Jane Pauley in the late 1970s and early 80s. Brokaw left Today to become anchor of the Nightly News.

Jane Pauley (1976 to 1989)
In a way, Jane Pauley introduced viewers to the modern era of Today, in which a popular pair of co-hosts - one male, one female - anchor the morning news program, trading interviews and headlines. Pauley became immensely popular as Today co-host, alongside Bryant Gumbel. After more than 10 years on the program, Pauley allegedly said she didn't enjoy the difficult hours and expectations associated with the programs. Rumor suggested NBC was nudging her to leave so that the show could replace her with a younger co-host. By 1989, it was enough, and Pauley bid farewell to the show.

Bryant Gumbel (1982 to 1997)
Much of Bryant Gumbel's stint on Today was met with controversy. Even before he began, there was a tussle among NBC executives over whether Gumbel would be the right choice - after all, he was just a sports reporter - or if a hard news journalist should replace Tom Brokaw. Gumbel won over the day and quickly won over audiences. He also became the first African-American to co-host the morning program. It took some time for Gumbel and Pauley to find a rhythm that worked well, but eventually the duo clicked. Together, they made Today the popular program it is today, taking the No. 1 spot away from Good Morning America. Gumbel left Today not long after an internal memo circulated in which Gumbel grumbled about how Today was being managed - taking some shots at his fellow co-hosts and colleagues, especially Willard Scott.

Deborah Norville (1990 to 1991)
Deborah Norville replaced Jane Pauley as co-host of Today in 1990 - but her appointment was met with controversy. Many speculated that Norville was selected simply because she was younger and cuter than Pauley. That may have affected ratings, as Today slumped to second place behind GMA. Nervous, NBC executives ditched Norville after less than a year on-air. Norville says that NBC fired her while she was on maternity leave, giving her little chance to say goodbye to her audience and colleagues. Norville went on to host Inside Edition.

Katie Couric (1991 to 2006)
Katie Couric, arguably the most popular co-host of Today throughout its history, joined Today as co-host in 1991. She served as national political correspondent prior to her co-hosting duties. Couric, together with Bryant Gumbel and Matt Lauer, built a Today Show juggernaut that kept GMA at bay for more than 16 years. While co-host, Couric would occasionally substitute for Tom Brokaw as anchor of NBC Nightly News. Later, she would be offered the opportunity to anchor the CBS Evening News. Considering the opportunity too much to pass up, Couric took the position and departed Today in 2006.

Today Show Hosts Past and Present

Matt Lauer (1997 to present)
After Gumbel's departure, Today 's news anchor, Matt Lauer, was named co-host of Today. Lauer and Couric quickly clicked, becoming the most powerful co-host team in Today history. Lauer recently signed a contract extension that will keep him with Today for several years to come.

Meredith Vieira (2006 to 2011)
Veteran newswoman Meredith Vieira replaced popular co-host Katie Couric in 2006. Previously, Vieira served as moderator on ABC's The View, created by former Today co-host Barbara Walters. Vieira became a popular co-host, but chose to leave the program in 2011 to spend more time with her ailing husband.

Ann Curry (2011 to 2012)
Ann Curry succeeded Vieira as co-host, after succeeding Lauer as news anchor in 1997. Curry was asked to leave Today as co-host after less than a year. Some assume she was sacked because of falling ratings and GMA's higher ratings. She remains with the network as an international correspondent. Curry also pockets $10 million for departing Today.

Savannah Guthrie (2012 to present)
Today's latest co-host is Savannah Guthrie, who served as co-host of Today's third hour previously. The 40-year-old was named co-host a day after Curry's departure.

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