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This Day in Pop Culture for March 11

Charles Van Doren on "21"

1957: Cheating Contestant Exits Game Show

In 2004, Ken Jennings won 74 consecutive games of the TV game show Jeopardy. During that time, ratings for the show grew and grew with audiences wondering just how long he could last. But back in 1956, Herbert Stempel’s long winning streak on Twenty-One had the opposite effect. Of course, when Jennings won, he actually knew the answers. That was not the case for Stempel. After what was considered a boring, dismal failure during the show’s initial episode where neither contestant was able to answer the questions correctly, Dan Enright, the show’s producer, decided it was time to rig the show. From then on, it contestants were given the answers to the questions in advance and were coached like an actor would be. At first, his appearances were ratings gold for NBC, but after awhile, the rating began to decline and it was decided that Stempel had to go. That’s when Charles Van Doren walked in, a man who didn’t even own a TV set, competed against Stempel and won to Stempel’s surprise. Like Stempel, Doren was coached and had his own 14-week winning streak on the show, His last appearance on the show was on this day in 1957 when he was “defeated” by Vivienne Nearing. But eventually, Stempel became a whistleblower admitting that he his appearance on the show had been rigged and on November 2, 1959, Doren, after hiding for about a month, publicly admitted that he too was part of a cheating scandal which changed how TV game shows have been produced ever since. (Image: Wikimedia)

Johhny Appleseed

1845: Johnny Appleseed Dies

John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman was both a promoter of apples and the gospel. He introduced apple trees by planting nurseries of apples to those living in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. It is said that he would tell stories to children and spread the New Church gospel to adults in exchange for a floor to sleep on. He was a lover of Native Americans and stated that he “traveled more than 4,000 miles about this country, and I have never met with one single insolent Native American.” Chapman was born on September 26, 1774 and died on this day in 1845. 103 years later, Disney released the movie Melody Time to theaters in 1948 which featured the short The Legend of Johnny Appleseed.

2018: Panther

Black Panther is the fifth Marvel movie to earn $1 billion worldwide.

2020: Wolf

Harvey Weinstein is sentenced to 23 years for a criminal sex act.

1977: Pooh Bear

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is released in theaters.

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Jeffrey Totey View All

I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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