Archive for the ‘Genre: Game / Panel / Quiz Shows’ Category

Game Show Creator Bob Stewart Dies at 91

Friday, May 4th, 2012

The Archive is sad to report the death of game show creator/producer Bob Stewart, who passed away at the age of 91. Stewart began his association with producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman (Goodson-Todman) in 1955 and created fan favorites Pyramid, The Price is Right, To Tell the Truth, and Password.

Here are some selections from Stewart’s three-hour Archive interview from 1998:

On the genesis of The Price is Right:

On Fiftieth Street and Seventh Avenue in New York there used to be a store which auctioned silverware, glassware, watches, jewelry … and everyday during the lunch hour that place was packed. People would just walk in and bid for the goods. I used to stop by there and watch the stuff and I thought to myself, ‘anybody who pays a nickel more than the retail price has been taken, but anybody who gets it for even a nickel less has got a bargain.’ And that became the core of The Price Is Right.

On how celebrity panelists were selected for To Tell The Truth:

In its original form, we had different visions of making this cross examination more than just entertainment. So as a consequence, we had a couple of reporters whose names escape me right now but they were literally reporters that people knew about. One guy was sort of an entertainment writer for one of the big New York newspapers. We also brought in people like Ralph Bellamy because he was doing Man Against Crime, a fictional detective, but at least he was cross-examining … We ended up with people like Orson Bean and Kitty Carlisle and the classic panelists Peggy Cass, who were there to have some fun and make a good time of it.

On how the Quiz Show Scandals changed game shows:

They brought in what they called Standards and Practices. The first guys hired back in 1958 or ’59, whenever it was, they brought in some ex-FBI men … an FBI guy came in and he oversaw the shows to make sure that nothing crooked was going on. The new thing that was innovated was that all contestants and all producers had to sign certain waivers of sorts saying you wouldn’t cheat and so on. There was that. The physical setup between contestants and production help had to be completely separate. We now had to have contestants briefed in another building at one time, couldn’t be in the same building. And in the studio, the quarters were set up so that there could be no contact except for the person who was the contestant getter, nobody else could be near a contestant.

On creating Password:

On creating Pyramid:

That had a strange development. Originally, we had a pilot that we made for CBS and it was called On The Line. There was a pyramid shape with a series of lines across the pyramid. I think there were ten lines. The bottom row had ten squares, then nine, eight, seven, six, on up to one. It was a different kind of game but we played a game with it. We made the pilot and it was just a so-so pilot. Fred Silverman, who has been said ’shoots from the hip,’ looked at it, didn’t care for it, and said, ‘we’ll do something else.’ I was trying to take advantage of the fact that they needed a show and I brought in some run-through of another show which he liked, and we were working on that in different run-throughs and then one day I got an idea of how to convert that pyramid of ten into another kind of show of quick communication. Although we were scheduled to run-through this new idea I showed Silverman this new version of the old pilot. ‘I kind of like it,’ he said, ‘but I don’t like the front game, the end game is okay.’ So I change that — the network guys do this, they don’t know what they’re looking for and they don’t recognize it so they’re not sure, so they keep sending you back to do it again, again, and again. Finally, one day I show him these two pieces together. Matter of fact, Bill Cullen was helping me demonstrate it, he was one of the players. The next thing I knew I walked into Bud Grant’s office. Bud was the head of daytime television, Silverman was the head of nighttime. I was hanging around CBS to find out whether we’re going to make the schedule and then I noticed in Bud Grant’s office where they have this board of shows, it said ‘Ten Thousand Dollar Pyramid.’ I said, ‘what the hell is that?’ He says, ‘you’re on the air.’

On how game show production changed since he began his career:

Since I haven’t been in it for a few years, I don’t know exactly, but I’ll tell you how part of it changed. The part that’s changed is … I’ll use the word respect. There was a certain respect that the network people or syndicators had for the producers of game shows. In other words, they dealt with them on a rather, even equal keel and said, ‘you have something that has some value, let’s talk about it.’ What I hear today is that when you go to a network or to a cable operation or to a syndicator, they couldn’t care less about the idea of the show. ‘You do business our way or we don’t do business.’ There are stories of syndicators and especially cable operators who say, ‘okay, we’ll take this show we own, we’ll give you some money.’ It’s all gone. Where’s the entrepreneur? What‘s the point in trying to be creative if it doesn’t belong to you? So the business part has changed a lot.

Watch Bob Stewart’s Full Archive Interview.

“Hollywood Squares” Turns 45 – No Bluffing!

Monday, October 17th, 2011

October 17th marks the 45th anniversary of Hollywood Squares, which debuted in daytime on October 17, 1966. The 1966 pilot was actually the third attempt at the game show: Bert Parks hosted the first pilot, Sandy Baron the second, and Peter Marshall hosted the third and became the regular host until 1981. Subsequent hosts of the program include Jon Bauman (1983-84), John Davidson (1986-89), and Tom Bergeron (1998-2004). The rules of the game: two contestants play tic-tac-toe on a 3×3 board composed of cubes occupied by celebrity guests. The host asks a star a question, who then answers truthfully or bluffs. A contestant “wins” a square by correctly identifying whether or not the star within is telling the truth. The first player to win three squares in a row (horizontally, diagonally, or vertically) wins the round. Morey Amsterdam, Ernest Borgnine, Agnes Moorehead, Rose Marie, and Charley Weaver were among the first celebrity guests.

Archive interviewees Peter Marshall, Ernest Borgnine (who occupied the first center square), and Rose Marie reminisce about the program:

Peter Marshall on hosting Hollywood Squares:

Ernest Borgnine on being a regular on the show:

Rose Marie on her tenure on the program:

Learn more about Hollywood Squares at our Hollywood Squares show page:

“The password is…FIFTY!” — It’s “Password’s” Golden Anniversary

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

On October 2, 1961, the popular game show Password, hosted by Allen Ludden,  premiered in daytime (a nighttime version was launched in January of 1962). Two teams (consisting of a celebrity and a contestant) competed. The “password” was given to  one player on each team. The player who was given the password gave a one-word clue and the teammate would try to guess the password. If the partner failed to come up with the password within five-seconds, the turn passed to the opposing team. The game continued until the password was guessed or until 10 clues had been given. The show was an instant hit and showcased almost every major star of the time including Betty White (who met her husband-to-be Password host Allen Ludden on the show). Lucille Ball,  Carol Burnett, Bob Denver, and hundreds of others.

Bob Stewart on creating Password

Bob Stewart on choosing “passwords” — and Jack Benny’s famous appearance on the show

Jack Benny and Joan Benny are the celebrity contestants on Password (1962)

See more about Password on the Archive’s Password Show Page…

Q: Who holds the world record for the most hours on television?

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Is “REGIS PHILBIN” your final answer? Correct! Regis Philbin, often called the hardest-working man in show-business, turns 80 years young today. The former host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Live With Regis and Kathie Lee, and Live with Regis and Kelly has been working in television since 1955 (as an usher on Steve Allen’s Tonight Show). He worked on Coke Time with Eddie Fisher before hosting his own syndicated series The Regis Philbin Show in 1964. He later became the sidekick on the ABC variety series The Joey Bishop show. Philbin also holds the Guinness World record for “most hours on US television” to-date, at over 17,000!

In this excerpt, Regis clarifies what his “talent” is:

His full interview can be seen at

Behind door number three… it’s Monty Hall!

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

The Archive wishes a very happy 90th birthday to Monty Hall! Best known for hosting Let’s Make a Deal, Hall has also made memorable guest appearances on shows like The Odd Couple, That Girl, and The Flip Wilson Show. He’s raised over $800 million for charities, and did you know that he’s the inspiration for a famous math problem? Here it is: There are 3 closed doors. Behind one of the doors is a car; behind the other two are goats. Monty Hall knows what is behind each door. He asks you to pick a door. You make a selection. He then reveals a goat behind one of the doors you did not select. Monty Hall now asks if you would like to swap doors and select the remaining door. Is it in your best interest to swap? What do you think? Watch below to learn the answer to the probability puzzle known as “The Monty Hall Problem.”

Watch Monty Hall’s full interview here:

Pat and Vanna put their spin on the “Wheel”

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

The hosts of America’s longest running, syndicated game show tell all in their Archive interviews!  Pat Sajak and Vanna White were interviewed both separately and together and share tales from behind the scenes of “America’s favorite game show,” Wheel of Fortune. They speak about show creator Merv Griffin, their shooting schedule, and why Pat never thought Vanna would get hired. In the following clip, Pat and Vanna discuss how they entertain each other on the set of Wheel of Fortune:

Watch the full interviews here:

About the interviews:

Pat Sajak was interviewed for just over two hours in Culver City, CA in two sessions: a two-hour individual interview, and a fifteen minute chat with Vanna White. Sajak discusses growing up in Chicago and his early interest in broadcasting, and shares his experiences serving in the armed forces radio in Vietnam. He speaks of his local television work in the 1970s for WSM in Nashville and KNBC in Los Angeles, and details the early history of the show for which he’s best known: Wheel of Fortune. Sajak describes working with show creator Merv Griffin, the casting of “letter turner” Vanna White, and the fame that he and Vanna have experienced. He also discusses his foray into the talk show genre as host of The Pat Sajak Show. In their dual interview, Sajak and White talk about the atmosphere on the set of Wheel of Fortune, marvel at the show’s longevity, and offer personal anecdotes about each other. Barrie Nedler conducted the interview on October 10, 2007.

Vanna White was interviewed for nearly two hours in Culver City, CA in two sessions: a one-and-a-half-hour individual interview and a fifteen minute conversation with Pat Sajak. White speaks about her early years and influences, her work as a model, and her appearance as a contestant on The Price Is Right.  She then details the show for which she is best known, Wheel Of Fortune. White describes working with creator Merv Griffin and host Pat Sajak; talks about the show’s popularity and the resulting “Vannamania;” and speaks of her wardrobe and the show’s production schedule. In the dual interview, Sajak and White discuss the atmosphere on the set of Wheel of Fortune, marvel at the show’s longevity, and offer personal anecdotes about each other. Barrie Nedler conducted the interview on October 10, 2007.

“….It’s in the Archive, Bob!” – “The Newlywed Game” turns 45

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Forty five years ago, on July 11, 1966, The Newlywed Game premiered on ABC with host Bob Eubanks. Eubanks is most closely associated with the show although there were many other hosts throughout its run. Produced by Chuck Barris (who also wrote the catchy theme song), the show was created by Nick Nicholson and E. Roger Muir, and focused on newly married couples who were asked a series of revealing questions about their spouse to determine how well they knew, or didn’t know, one another.

The series also has the reputation for airing one of the most notorious bloopers ever — a response by a contestant named “Olga” in 1977 to the question “Where specifically, is the weirdest place that you personally have ever gotten the urge to make whoopee?”

In his Archive interview Bob Eubanks debunks the myth of this blooper, and reveals what Olga actually said:

Here is the clip as it aired on television in 1977:

Bob Eubanks’ complete Archive of American Television interview can be viewed here.

Charles Van Doren Admitted the Truth about "21"— 50 Years Ago Today

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Charles Van Doren, the Columbia professor who was at the center of the quiz show scandal of the 1950s, appeared before a congressional committee on November 2, 1959 to admit he’d been given questions and answers in advance when he appeared on the quiz show 21. In a story for the New Yorker last year, Van Doren broke a long silence and wrote about the experience (“All the Answers”).

The Archive of American Television interviewed Herbert Stempel (who was “beat” by Van Doren on 21), as well as 21 producer Albert Freedman.

Harry Friedman-featured in this month’s "Emmy"

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Harry Friedman, producer of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! among many other iconic programs, was interviewed by the Archive in 2007. His story is featured in this month’s EMMY magazine, available now.

UPDATE: 1/1/09 The full article has been posted to the Jeopardy! site.
Read it here.

Detailed description:
Harry Friedman was interviewed for over two hours in Culver City, CA. Friedman described his early career path and how he came to be a writer on The Hollywood Squares in the 1970s. He talked about producing the late 80s version of the show that featured Joan Rivers as the center square. He spoke in great detail about his long association with the game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! that he began producing in the mid-90s. For Wheel he talked about changes made to the game play through the years, such as the addition of the Jackpot Round and the Mystery Round; as well as the Wheel Watchers Club. For Jeopardy!, he talked about the winning streak of Ken Jennings. The interview was conducted on October 10, 2007.

For more on this and other Archive interviews, visit or our TVLegends youtube channel

50th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Quiz Show Scandals

Friday, August 15th, 2008

A year before Charles Van Doren and Herb Stempel squared off on Twenty-One, a contestant on the quiz show Dotto discovered that the program he was on was rigged. As related in Jeff Kisseloff’s The Box: An Oral History of Television 1920-1961, on August 15, 1958 Dotto contestant Edward Hilgemeier, Jr. walked into the office of Assistant New York District Attorney Joseph Stone, with his complaint about the quiz show’s rigging, the first spark that ignited the quiz show scandal flame.

Quiz shows were a popular genre in the 1950s— The $64,000 Question became the #1 show of the 1955-56 season, temporarily knocking out I Love Lucy from the top spot.

Twenty-One, premiering in September 1956, was as much a drama as it was a quiz show— with contestants facing off against each other while in individual isolation booths. When college instructor Charles Van Doren and bookish intellectual Herb Stempel competed with each other, it made for riveting television. But after their appearances, Stempel exposed the rigging and Van Doren, who had become a national celebrity, lost his credibility with the American public (detailed in the critically-acclaimed 1994 feature film Quiz Show).

Charles Van Doren, has recently told his story in a feature in The New Yorker, “All the Answers.”

The Archive of American Television interviewed several direct participants who discussed the “Quiz Show Scandals,” including Herbert Stempel. Click here to access Herbert Stempel’s entire three-part interview.

Interview description:
Mr. Stempel talked about his early years, where he discovered that he could retain large amounts of information from materials that he read. He discussed how in 1956, he wrote a letter to the producers of the new quiz show Twenty-One and was quickly invited to become a contestant on the popular program. He revealed how producer Dan Enright choreographed the entire production by creating his “nerdy” look and secretly providing Stempel with the answers to specific quiz questions. Mr. Stempel talked about his repeated appearances on the show, and his orchestrated defeat by Charles Van Doren – before which he was promised a job on the show and other benefits. When the job did not come through, Mr. Stempel approached the authorities, further igniting what became known as the “Quiz Show Scandals.” Mr. Stempel talked about his testimony and his ultimate return to private life, where he continues to work for the New York transportation system.