Peter Marshall (born March 30, 1926) is an American television and radio personality, singer, and actor.
He was the original host and "The Master" of The Hollywood Squares, from 1966 to 1981. He has almost fifty television, movie, and Broadway credits.
Peter Marshall was born as Ralph Pierre LaCock in 1926 in Huntington, West Virginia, to a show business family. Following his father's death, he moved to New York City to be with his mother, a costume designer. His elder sister, Joanne Dru, was an actress who is best remembered for her roles in the films Red River, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and All the King's Men.
At the age of 14 he was a theater usher. In the 1950s, Marshall earned his living as part of a comedy act with Tommy Noonan, and they appeared in night clubs, on television variety shows, and in films including Starlift (1951), The Rookie (1959) and Swingin' Along (1962). He appeared in the 1958 episode "The Big Hoax" of the syndicated television series Harbor Command.
In London's 1962 West End production, Marshall appeared in the stage musical Bye Bye Birdie, a satire on American popular culture in the 1950s inspired by singer Elvis Presley receiving a draft notice into the Army. Marshall played the lead character of Albert Peterson, who writes a song for the pop-singing sensation Conrad Birdie (played by Marty Wilde). The production ran for 268 performances.
Although Marshall occasionally worked in film and television, he could not find regular work in the industry until his friend Morey Amsterdam recommended him to fill in for Bert Parks (who emceed the pilot) as the host of the game show The Hollywood Squares in 1966.
The show had a long run on daytime network TV and in syndication, making Marshall as familiar to viewers as the celebrities who appeared on the show. The easy-going and unflappable Marshall was a perfect foil for the wicked wit of such panelists as Amsterdam and his Dick Van Dyke Show castmate Rose Marie; Paul Lynde, Jan Murray, and Wally Cox. The Hollywood Squares was canceled by the NBC network in 1980, but production continued in syndication into 1981.
Marshall grew tired of hosting the show after several years and wanted to leave. Toward that end, he would make outrageous salary demands whenever his contract was up for renewal, hoping that he would be fired for doing so, but his demands were always met.
One of his memorable post-Squares roles was a cameo in the 1982 film version of the musical Annie, playing fictional radio personality "Bert Healy". As of February 2009, his last feature film acting credit was the 1993 film Sista Dansen (The Last Dance).