Peter Tomarken was another one of my childhood heroes growing up. Press Your Luck, one of my favorite game shows as a kid, was cancelled roughly one year and two months at the time I was born. But, re-runs were being run on USA and I enjoyed watching every single show. Even on the way to school while I was in elementary school, I would play the game with the same bus buddy I had and play questions I had seen with him.
Peter Tomarken began his hosting career by hosting the 13-week long show, Hit Man with Rod Roddy at the announcing helm as well. I was exposedto Hit Man through a series of websites, and officially saw it for the first time after one of my early trades was a success. But also on the Hit Man finale, Rod Roddy would use a funny contestant plug: "If you'd like to be a contestant on Hit Man...forget it!" I appreciate Kenneth Williams and Billy McNamee for their eps. of Hit Man in the trading circuit.
Peter then went on to host the show we all know and love, Press Your Luck. He wore the same suit on the show's premiere as he did on Hit Man's finale. Tomarken would host it for 3 years until its cancellation from CBS in September 1986. During the run, the show gave away a LOT of prizes, and a LOT of money...most of it going to Michael Larsen, who we all know won $110,237 when it aired in June 1984, marking it as #13 in GSN's top 50 game shows. Tomarken also hosted Wipeout, Paranoia, and Bargain Hunters.
The upsetting news of Peter's death came to me while I was in school on March 13th, 2006. I was in Oracle Programming, a database corporation class in my final semester in my senior year of high school, when I snuck on to check my e-mail, as I sometimes did. And then, I saw an e-mail with the title PETER TOMARKEN. I knew something had happened, but I didn't know what. And when I finally opened it, my heart nearly sunk to my feet. Tomarken, and his wife Kathleen, both died in a plane crash. I didn't know if it was true, but I had to find out. That evening, I tuned into Entertainment Tonight, and there it was. My heart raced in many different locations as I heard exactly what happened. Tomarken was registered a pilot of a plane, and volunteered to take a patient to UCLA Medical Center. He was flying over Santa Monica Bay with Kathleen in the opposite seat, when he reported engine trouble. As he tried to fly in, the plane crashed into the waters of Santa Monica, claiming both Peter and Kathleen's lives.
We all know some plane crashes have claimed many lives, including those of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and many other fun celebrities. But, Peter's was not on land...it was in water. Today, both Peter and Kathleen are buried at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetary in Culver City, CA.
Growing up watching Tomarken on Press Your Luck on USA's game show block is one of my favorite memories as a kid. I never would've imagined this would happen to such an underrated icon, even something said by Todd Newton back in November 2009 on Game Show Temple LIVE! that he was one of the best, yet underrated hosts of all-time. And I know I've probably burst myself showing this off and on here at the Game Show Temple, but for this tribute page to Mr. Tomarken, this video has found a home to stay:
Peter, we all miss you very much. Rest in peace
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