Game and quiz shows first started appearing on radio broadcasts in the 1930s, led by the CBS network’s Professor Quiz, hosted by a man who was neither a professor nor even a college graduate, the first of several frauds that seemed to be endemic to the genre. Professor Quiz was followed by other such game shows as Uncle Jim’s Question Bee and Ask It Basket, which in turn spawned successful box games for at-home play. The show Truth or Consequences made the transition from radio to television in the late 1940s and was so popular that a town in New Mexico was named for the show. Television proved to be the perfect platform for game shows since they were very popular and cheap to produce. Even in reruns today, the older shows still draw huge audiences. This book describes the evolution of the game show, its larger-than-life producers and hosts, as well as the scandals that have rocked it from time to time, including bloopers from such “adult” oriented shows as The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, and Hollywood Squares. This is an entertaining and lively look at an American phenomenon whose popularity doesn’t seem to be going away.
BOZE HADLEIGH, a former Jeopardy! winner, is the author of twenty-nine books, most of them Hollywood-themed. The Los Angeles Times labeled him “a pop culture phenomenon.” He holds a master’s in journalism and has published articles in over one hundred periodicals here and abroad. He speaks five languages, and has visited more than sixty countries. His non-Hollywood books include Broadway Babylon, Leading Ladies (UK), Mexico’s Most Wanted, Holy Cow!, and Life’s a Pooch.
Former Jeopardy! winner Hadleigh (Scandals, Secrets, and Swan Songs) traces the trajectory of game shows from their radio origins to television. He divides them into the categories of tests of knowledge, physical-challenge bouts, and guessing contests. While the author mentions famous incidents, such as the quiz-show scandals of the 1950s, he also documents behind-the-scenes misconduct and uncovers the obscure. For example, not everyone knows that To Tell the Truth imposters get pre-game information to appear genuine. The book pays tribute to professional game-show panelists, such as Peggy Cass, Kitty Carlisle, Orson Bean, Steve Allen, and Rose Marie. It also honors quintessential hosts (Groucho Marx, Allen Ludden, Gene Rayburn, Chuck Barris, Bob Barker, and Bill Cullen, who hosted a record 23 different game shows). Pioneers Arlene Francis and Betty White were early, short-termed women hosts, while Meredith Vieira became the longest-serving woman emcee. Intended for general readers, the book references iconic programs like Password, Match Game, Family Feud, Truth or Consequences, Let’s Make a Deal, What’s My Line?, Wheel of Fortune, and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? Offered more for information than extensive sociological analysis, this is an entertaining treat for nostalgia and trivia lovers.
"You’ll read about game show hosts and history, scandals and salesmanship, gaffes and greats including the irrepressible Paul Lynde, who Hadleigh calls ‘The King of the Zingers.” There’s a wealth of information inside this book, and plenty of nostalgia, making it great enjoyment for anyone who spent summers in front of a rotating fan and a television, playing along in your grandma’s living room."