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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 22 April 1920San Francisco, California, USA
Date of Death 19 January 1970Los Angeles, California, USA  (lung cancer)
Birth NameHarold Mendelson

Mini Bio (1)

Hal March, born Harold Mendelson, first came on the scene in 1944 as one half of the comedy duo, Sweeney & March. He and Bob Sweeney had their own radio program, aptly named the "Sweeney and March Show" on CBS radio through 1948. In the early fifties, March sought a variety of venues in which to perform, taking small, uncredited rolls in movies and appearing on a few TV shows such as "I Love Lucy" and "The Kate Smith Evening Hour." His first big break came when he was hired as one of the four Harry Mortons on "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show." He eventually lost the part to Fred Clark who the producers felt was perfectly paired with Bea Bernaderet (Blanch Morton) because of his acerbic, yet child-like grumpiness.

About this same time March paired up with another comedian Tom D'Andrea and together they made seven appearances on "The Colgate Comedy Hour."

His biggest break came when he was hired to host "The $64,000 Question," the most lucrative money quiz show of its time. Marsh's personality combined with the astronomical prize money made the program the undisputed king of game shows and inspired a few copycat productions.

In 1955, Jack Benny appeared as a contestant on "The $64,000 Question." Jack's category was violins. After answering the first question correctly, Jack quit and took home his one dollar winnings. In 1957, at the height of March's run with "The $64,000 Question," he was invited to be on "The Jack Benny Program," where Jack set up his own game show in which Hal tried desperately to win his dollar back.

Also in 1955, March married Candy Toxton who had recently divorced Mel Tormé. Together they had three children, Peter, Jeffery, and Victoria, in addition to raising Candy's two children from her previous marriage.

"The $64,000 Question" came to an early end when the infamous Quiz Show Scandals came to light.

One biographer online states that because of the scandal, except for a few film roles, Hal March was out of show business for nearly a decade.

That is a slight exaggeration. Work had slowed down, but Hal hung in finding work here and there. Immediately following the close of his quiz show, he appeared on the "Ed Sullivan Show" to perform his stand-up routine.

He acted for "The Schlitz Playhouse" in 1959, "Westinghouse Preview Theater" in 1961, "The DuPont Show of the Week" in 1963, and even appeared on Broadway in "Two for the Seesaw" (replacing Henry Fonda) and in "Come Blow Your Horn."

In 1961 Hal starred in an unsold pilot for a comedy series called "I Married a Dog." The story starts out with Hal's character marrying a woman in Las Vegas he'd just met. When they arrive at her home in Los Angeles, Hal discovers he's married into wealth, and then, to his surprise and dismay, he quickly learns that the money maker in the home is a movie star dog that takes a harsh dislike to Hal immediately. Alone in the bedroom, Hal tries to make friends with the dog, but quickly discovers how well the dog can act when it follows him out of the bedroom limping, to the shock of his new bride. Throughout the show the dog constantly gets the better of him. You can find the show on YouTube.

In 1966 Hal March appeared on "The Lucy Show" and "The Monkees," and a year later he both appeared in and worked as the technical adviser on "A Guide for the Married Man," all the while making an occasional guest appearance on a variety of television shows such as "Here's Hollywood," "I've Got a Secret," and even guest hosted "The Tonight Show."

In July of 1969 March finally got the break he'd been looking for and began hosting the game show "It's your Bet" in which celebrity couples played against each other, their winnings going to a member of the audience. The show quickly grew in popularity, but after finishing just 13 weeks of taping, he complained of exhaustion. A trip to the doctor showed that, as a result of his chain smoking, he'd developed lung cancer.

Hal March died at the age of 49 in Los Angeles on January 19, 1970. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for his work in radio and one for his work in television. He is buried at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: David Bonello

Spouse (1)

Candy Toxton (18 February 1956 - 19 January 1970) (his death) (3 children)

Trivia (6)

Erstwhile comedy partner of Bob Sweeney. They performed, in the early 1950s, as "Sweeney & March.".
He was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Radio at 1560 Vine Street and for Television 6536 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
Father of Peter, Jeffrey and Victoria.
Stepfather of Steve March and Melissa Torme-March.
He was host of The $64,000 Question (1955) (1955-1957), the first of the big money TV quiz shows.
He appeared regularly on TV's first big variety show, The Colgate Comedy Hour (1950) (1953-1955), with Tom D'Andrea ("Jim Gillis" from The Life of Riley (1953) sitcom), as army buddies.

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