JOHN DALY, a former war correspondent and game-show host, is dead at age 77. His long-time assistant said yesterday that Daly was found dead Sunday at his home in Chevy Chase, Md. Although he suffered from emphysema, Lila Bader said, "I believe death was due to cardiac arrest."
In a telephone interview from Daly's office in New York, Bader said she spoke with Daly by telephone Sunday, "and he was going to do his taxes" on Monday.
A native of South Africa, Daly moved to the United States as a boy. He studied at Boston College and was a scheduler for the Washington, D.C., transit company when he joined CBS in 1937.
After covering the White House and World War II in Europe and the Middle East, Daly moved to ABC in 1949. From 1953 to 1960 he was vice president in charge of the network's news operation.
For 17 years until 1967 he also was moderator of the television show, "What's My Line," in which a panel of regulars often columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, publisher Bennett Cerf, actress Arlene Francis and comedian Henry Morgan tried to guess the occupations of guests.
It was the longest-running game show in the history of prime-time network television. The show ran for a few years after 1967 under another moderator in syndication.
Daly was director of the Voice of America in 1967 and 1968.
Bader said Daly was "a hard news man" who had become dismayed by recent trends in journalism to "happy talk" formats.
Mark Goodson, producer of What's My Line, said of Daly: "He was the permanent fixture of the show. He was perfect for that day; always wore black tie, very elegant, very courtly."
Francis, a regular guest on the show, recalled Daly's genuine interest in people and information.
"He was just the most superb moderator of any show. He had so much humor without being a clown. He had infinite charm," said Francis.
Daly is survived by his wife, Virginia, a daughter of former Chief Justice Earl Warren, and six children, three from a previous marriage.