MTV’s original game show host Ken Ober dies at 52

Ken Ober, a stand up comedian best known as the whip smart host of MTV’s original game show “Remote Control” has died of unknown causes at his home in Santa Monica. He was just 52. Ober hosted “Remote Control” from 1987 to 1991. He went on to host more game shows and worked as a radio host and then a writer and producer for television. Wikipedia says that Ober is survived by his mother, father, and brother along with an adopted son he raised as a single parent, Jason Ober.

kenoberKen Ober, a brassy comedian best known as the host of the 1980s-era MTV game show “Remote Control,” died this weekend, Mark Measures, an agent at Abrams Artists who worked with him, said on Monday. Mr. Ober, who lived in Santa Monica, Calif., was 52. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Lee Kernis, a manager at Brillstein Entertainment Partners who represented Mr. Ober for more than 20 years, said that Mr. Ober was found dead on Sunday. He said that Mr. Ober was last heard from on Saturday night, when he spoke to a friend and complained of a headache and flu-like symptoms. Mr. Ober told the friend that he was going to take something and would see a doctor as soon as possible.

Mr. Ober, who was born in Brookline, Mass. and raised in Hartford, Conn., grew up idolizing game show hosts like Bob Barker and Bob Eubanks, and went on to host four game shows of his own, including a revived version of “Make Me Laugh” in 1997. But his breakthrough came a decade earlier when Mr. Ober, a contestant on the televised talent show “Star Search,” became the host of the MTV series “Remote Control” in 1987.

That show, which was the network’s first original series to focus on non-musical content, tested participants on their knowledge of television, music-video and pop-culture trivia. The show, which also provided a launching pad for the careers of comedians like Adam Sandler and Colin Quinn, drew much of its sarcastic, self-mocking spirit from the culturally obsessive Mr. Ober, who ran the program like a late-night talk show (or frat party) and gleefully teased players who gave wrong answers.

Van Toffler, the president of MTV Networks, said on Monday, “Ken was a great guy. His personality really brought ‘Remote Control’ to life, as well as a new style of programming for MTV. We were really flying by the seat of of our pants then, and Ken was the reason it worked.”

In recent years Mr. Ober also worked as a producer on comedy series like “Mind of Mencia” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”

Mr. Kernis said, “He was a terrific friend. I’m still shocked.”

[From The NY Times]

When “Remote Control” was on I was in high school. My brother and I used to watch it together faithfully. Since he was a few years older than me he would always know way more answers than I could come up with. He could probably still beat me in a pop culture contest even though I do this for a living. That’s really sad that Ober passed so young and unexpectedly. For people in my generation, he’ll always be a part of our history. RIP, Ken.


Carlos Alazraqui at"Kid Notorious" party

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9 Responses to “MTV’s original game show host Ken Ober dies at 52”

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  1. Celebitchy says:

    Jen you get the gold star for nicest way to point out a typo.

  2. atticus says:

    I used to love Remote Control! Ken Ober really was hilarious on that show. Such sad news.

  3. GeminiGirl says:

    So Sad..

    I always wanted to be a contestant on Remote Control…It is a huge part of my childhood. I also watched it religously everyday after school (with my brother) 🙂

  4. Firestarter says:

    I had read somewhere where he complained of a headache Friday and flu like symptoms, and he was planning on visiting a doctor on Monday.

    Scary if that is true, because that makes me think the Oinks is not a flu to be messed with!

    I liked Remote Control.

  5. ToddRH says:

    Don’t forget the B list movie & TV actress Kari Wuhrer was the “Vanna White” of the show.

  6. juiceinla says:

    RIP Ken. you and Remote control brought me and my college roommates many happy hours laughing and playing, plus you launched Adam Sandler’s career..

    sucks. sigh.

  7. Whitey Fisk says:

    That’s sad. He was a great host and that was a fantastic show. 52 is way too young.

    On the bright side, I see Ken kept company with Carlos Alazraqui and Kerri Kenney-Silver….

  8. Ken and i Became friends 9 months ago he was a wonderful guy . We saw each other almost everyday with his dog Bear and My dog Sasha I just found out today . Iam so so shocked I was hospitalized about 2 months ago for a heart situation that was basically a heart attack, When I saw Ken some weeks later he asked where i had been and i told him he was so sympathetic and really took it to heart A real friend and to find this out after my life was so close to being also gone just totally blows me away …Ken Thank you for the moments and intimate talks about life Love you Bro Armando