"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, when 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. 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. He recalls that when the job did not come through, he approached the authorities, further igniting what became known as the "Quiz Show Scandals." He talks about his testimony and his ultimate return to private life, where he continued to work for the New York transportation system. He also discusses his impressions of the Robert Redford film "Quiz Show." Karen Herman conducted the interview on July 16, 2004 in Queens, NY.