Born James Edward Narz in Louisville, KY, Kennedy attended the University of Missouri before heading to Hollywood in 1947, to join brother Jack Narz. As both brothers began to make their name in TV, the younger James changed him name to avoid confusion among viewers.
His first break was as a game show host for The Big Game in 1958 and Dr. I.Q. in the 1958-59 season. But his first major success was You Don’t Say!, which lasted six seasons from 1963-69 on NBC, and was later revived by ABC in 1975.
Kennedy’s longest stint came with the syndicated revival of Name That Tune, which aired once per week (expanded to twice a week for its final season) from 1974 to 81.
His other hosting credits included Break the Bank and 50 Grand Slam, both in 1976; To Say the Least from 1977-78; Whew! from 1979-80; Body Language from 1984 to 1986; a syndicated nighttime version of The Price Is Right from 1985-86; and Worldplay from 1986-87.
Kennedy also hosted Password Plus from 1980 to 1982 following the illness (and later death) or Allen Ludden.
Shifting gears, Kennedy hosted talk show The Real Tom Kennedy Show in 1970, and appeared as a panelist on To Tell the Truth.
Beyond hosting, Kennedy also was an actor, winning appearances on That Girl and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and dramas Cannon and Hardcastle and McCormick, among other series.
He was also the announcer on Betty White’s comedy Date With the Angels from 1957 to 1958.