Mike Bongiorno, the Gene Rayburn of Italy, Dies at Age 85

Sadly it often takes death to show us what giants walk among us. Few Americans knew about the genius of Mike Bongiorno, called Italy's "Quiz King."

But judging from the clips available on YouTube, he appears to been something out of a pop culture design fantasy.

Bongiorno shot to fame in the 50's hosting the beloved Lascia o Raddoppia?, Italy's version of the $64,000. After that he went on to host a number of shows on Silvio Berlusconi's media empire, including, judging from the clips available on YouTube, an Italian version of Wheel of Fortune, something like an Italian Price Is Right set in a corn field, and another show that looks like an Italian Who Wants to Be a Millionaire set on a space station.

Overall, his ouevre appears to be what you'd get if Russ Meyer had art directed Bob Barker's career — which is more or less all the American public has been asking for all these years. Thank you Italy for at last making this dream come true; a shame we only realized it when it was too late.