1959: Game Show Contestant Admits Fraud
When the quiz show Twenty-One first aired on NBC on September 12, 1956, it was considered a “dismal failure” or at least it was to Dan Enright, the producer of the show. The first two players didn’t do well at all and the show’s sponsor, Geritol, did not want to be a part of a losing show. From there on out, the game show was fixed and presented almost like a play. Contestants were given answers to questions, told how to dress and told when to give the right answers and when not to. By late November, college professor Charles Van Doren was brought in to “challenge” Herbert Stempel the reigning “champion” on the show who was not very well liked by the viewers. The two battled it out for four games and then Stempel was ordered to give a wrong answer in order for Van Doren to beat him. Van Doren continued to “win” various other contestants which increased the popularity of the show even beating I Love Lucy in the ratings. He was finally beaten by Vivienne Wax Nearing on March 11, 1957 after winning $129,000 in prize money. However, still smarting from his “loss” to Van Doren, Stempel made attempts to get a federal investigator look into the shady dealings of the show. After rumblings of other fixed games, a grand jury was convened in the fall of 1958 to investigate various TV game shows and by October 17th, host Jack Barry was out of job as the show was cancelled. Almost a year later on this day in 1959, Van Doren admitted to a Congressional committee that he had been given questions and answers in advance. The 1994 movie, Quiz Show was based on these events. (Main image: Wikimedia)
1971: ‘The Hiding Place’ is Published
Released during this month in 1971, author Corrie Ten Boom (along with John and Elizabeth Sherrill) recounted her years living before, during and even a little after the Holocaust in the book The Hiding Place. The title refers to both a physical hiding place where her family hid Jewish people from the Nazi’s and also to Psalm 119:114 which states, “Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word…” The book was turned into a movie in 1975 by World Wide Pictures and actress Jeanette Clift George received a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer Female.
2001: ‘Monsters, Inc.’ Scares Up an Audience
It was on this day in 2001 that Disney/Pixar released the animated hit, Monsters, Inc. Directed by Pete Docter, the film centered on two monsters who were employed by an energy company who produced energy by collecting the screams of children. Everything goes according to plan until a little girl (“Boo”) wandered into the monster world. The voice cast included John Goodman as James P. “Sully” Sullivan (the hairy blue one) and Billy Crystal as Mike (the round green one) along with Steve Buscemi, James Coburn and Jennifer Tilly. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature (but lost to Shrek) but won an Oscar for Best Original Song (“If I Didn’t Have You” by Randy Newman). Twelve years later, Disney released the prequel, Monsters University (where Sully met Mike) on June 21, 2013.
- 1734: Daniel Boone (explorer)
- 1975: James K. Polk (11th President of the U.S.)
- 1913: Burt Lancaster (actor)
- 1942: Stefanie Powers (actress)
- 1966: David Schwimmer (actor)
- 1973: Marisol Nichols (actress)
- 1974: Nelly (rapper)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.