Category Archives: quiz show

23 March: A Dope Diamond jubilee

Ralph Edwards (left), with prizes and (we presume) a willing victim. (Photo: NBC.)

Ralph Edwards (left), with prizes and (we presume) a willing victim. (Photo: NBC.)

Reality programming’s old-time radio great-great-great-grandfather, of which fans would speak in terms of plain old mad fun and critics would speak of plain old madness, premieres seventy-five years ago tonight on NBC, dedicated shamelessly to the proposition that, humans being as they are, they—or a significant number among them—will do absolutely anything, short of murder, for money, prizes, or both.

Created and hosted by jovial journeyman CBS announcer Ralph Edwards, Truth or Consequences –an idea he has derived from the forfeits game he played during his farmland childhood—becomes either a national habit or a national guilty pleasure, depending upon how you take the show.

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10 December: A bump for Fred Allen

Texaco not only moves Allen to a better timeslot around or after Pearl Harbour, but the oil giant will get mileage aplenty featuring him in wartime print advertising. (Photo: Texas Oil Company.)

Texaco not only moves Allen to a better timeslot around or after Pearl Harbour, but the oil giant will get mileage aplenty featuring him in wartime print advertising. (Photo: Texas Oil Company.)

Pearl Harbour will affect Fred Allen as it will all radio entertainers, but in Allen’s case it will provide an inadvertent ratings bump.

The satirist and his Texaco Star Theater hour have struggled against NBC’s Eddie Cantor and Mr. District Attorney on Wednesday nights. But then the Ford Motor Company drops the curtain permanently on its Sunday night CBS mainstay, The Sunday Evening Hour, which featured performances by the Detroit Symphony. “It was wartime,” Jim Harburg would review, in his splendid volume compiling the history of network radio ratings, “and the car maker had nothing to sell.”

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17 September: To free the Dutch

The Allied campaign to liberate the Netherlands from the Nazi grip is underway in earnest.

 

TUNE IN TONIGHT:

Edward R. Murrow: Counting the Parachutes (CBS, 1944)

Murrow. (Photo: CBS.)

Murrow. (Photo: CBS.)

His habitual flying aboard bombing runs married to his London Blitz rooftop reporting has prompted many at CBS and even his own wife to ponder whether Murrow has a death wish. Today is additional evidence: Murrow flies aboard such a run to report on the Allied invasion of the Netherlands. The surviving recording will last a mere minute; what he reported will endure—particularly for the Dutch.

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19 April: Groucho hits the Wednesday night top

The secret word is "patience" for Groucho's comic quiz's rise. (Photo: NBC.)

The secret word is “patience” for Groucho’s comic quiz’s rise. (Photo: NBC.)

Already reluctant to try his hand at a quiz show format, even if the quiz is designed more to showcase his virtuoso ad-libbing, Groucho Marx has taken a little doing to bring You Bet Your Life to top ratings.

Premiering on ABC in 1947-48, the show launched on Thursday nights and showed nowhere in the night’s top ten or the season’s top fifty. A year later, however, the show twas moved to Wednesday nights—and turned up in eighth place on the night and finished just inside the seasonal top fifty.

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2 December: Duo drive

Abbott & Costello return from having been rudely interrupted by Costello's bout with rheumatic fever . . . (Photo: NBC)

Abbott & Costello return from having been rudely interrupted by Costello’s bout with rheumatic fever . . . (Photo: NBC)

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello brought plenty of heft to network radio when they premiered as series stars in fall 1942. They brought four seasons’ worth of scattered but successful guest spots and (in 1940) a thirteen-week spell as Fred Allen’s summer replacement to their own microphones for Camel cigarettes.

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