Mike Bongiorno, 85, a TV host who popularized quiz shows for generations of Italians, died Tuesday of a heart attack at his home in Monte Carlo, Italian news media reported.
Nicknamed "The Quiz King," Bongiorno was one of Italy's most enduring and beloved TV personalities. His gaffes were legendary and his greeting to viewers -- "Allegria!" (Cheers!) -- a trademark.
Vatican Radio called him a "milestone" of Italian TV, and President Giorgio Napolitano said Bongiorno was a "household presence" for Italian families.
He appeared on RAI state TV on its first day of programming in the early 1950s and hosted a series of successful quiz shows -- many of them adaptations of U.S. shows -- for more than two decades.