"Every time 'Quiz Show' is shown on television, invariably the phone rings and some character at the other end says, 'What picture won the Academy Award in 1955?'"
About This Interview
In his one-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Herbert Stempel talks about his early years, where he discovered that he could retain large amounts of information from materials that he read. He discusses 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 reveals 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 talks 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 talks about his testimony and his ultimate return to private life, where he continues to work for the New York transportation system. Karen Herman conducted the interview in Queens, NY on July 16, 2004.