Hugh co-anchored NBC’s Today show from 1962 to 1971 and for 21 years hosted ABC evening news magazine 20/20. His family confirmed the sad loss in a statement and explained the broadcaster had died from natural causes at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.
He had lived in the state with his wife Ruth, whom he married in 1944.
Hugh’s wife Ruth died three years ago, and the anchor is survived by his children Hugh and Deirdre, his brother, Wallace, and two grandchildren.
The popular broadcaster had a long-standing working relationship with Barbara Walters in the 1960s.
Barbara also then joined him as a co-anchor on 20/20 for 20 years, until he retired in 1999.
Tributes have been pouring in on social media, as people offered their condolences.
One person tweeted: “RIP Hugh Downs. He always had his finger on the pulse of the nation.”
“I really loved watching Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters host ’20/20′ on Friday nights,” another person commented.
While a third person added: “RIP to Hugh Downs. He was a real one.”
A fourth social media user added: “Another icon. #HughDowns.”
Hugh was born in 1921 and began working in radio before he served in the Army during World War Two before he received a medical discharge.
He then joined the staff of WMAQ, the NBC station in Chicago.
Speaking in an interview with the Archive of American Television, the broadcaster admitted he thought television was a “gimmick”.
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Hugh explained: “I thought TV was a gimmick like 3D movies and it would just go away.
“I had no idea that the tail would eventually wag the dog and treat me much kinder than radio did.”
In the 1950s and the early 1960s, he worked as an announcer to host Jack Paar on The Tonight Show.
He went on to host game show Concentration, a day time NBC game show, while also working on the Today show, before he moved to 20/20.
Hugh won a pair of Emmy awards, for the program “Live From Lincoln Center” and hosting the PBS talk program “Over Easy,” which premiered in 1977 and was aimed at older viewers.
“I’ve worked on so many different shows and done so many shows at the same time,” Hugh said in a 1986 Associated Press interview.
“I once said I’d done everything on radio and television except play-by-play sports.
“Then I remembered I’d covered a boxing match in Lima, Ohio, in 1939.”