Million Dollar Question

Geoff Nathan geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU
Wed May 26 18:51:56 UTC 2010

Indeed, other shows were implicated. My late mother-in-law was a contestant on Tic-Tac-Dough. She won quite a bit of money, but after a while they got bored with her and eliminated her by asking her a bunch of questions about sports, which they knew from pre-show interviews she didn't follow.
After the scandal broke she ended up being called to testify during the hearings.

<libertarian rant>
As with many things, the thought that Congress needed to concern itself with how some television show entertained folks strikes me as bizarre. But then there are hearings on athletes use of certain performance-enhancing drugs (but not, for example, Lasik surgery). As if this were a valid function of our legislative branch. </libertarian rant>

Geoffrey S. Nathan
Faculty Liaison, C&IT
and Associate Professor, Linguistics Program
+1 (313) 577-1259 (C&IT)
+1 (313) 577-8621 (English/Linguistics)

----- "Laurence Horn" <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:

> From: "Laurence Horn" <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:27:06 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
> Subject: Re: Million Dollar Question
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Million Dollar Question
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 2:10 PM -0400 5/26/10, George Thompson wrote:
> >There was a radio show in the 40s called Double or Nothing that was
> >based on a quiz, with prizes ascending to $64.  The punchline of the
> >show seems to have been "are you ready for the $64 question?"   I
> >don't recall the show at all -- but my mohter would use the
> >expression "that's the $64 question", meaning that's the major
> issue.
> Exactly my experience (only with my own mother, not GAT's); I would
> have been too young for the radio show, but heard about it from my
> parents when I was puzzled by their apparently puzzling habit of
> dividing the payoff (in the expression) by 1000.
> >  The show premiered in 1940, continued through 1954 -- this
> >according to On the Air: The Encycl. of Old-Time Radio.  It spawned
> >a show called "The $64,000 Question", on TV, beginning in 1955 --
> >This was the show that sent xxx Van Doren* into a mire of infamy,
> >when it was revealed that he had been fed the answers to the $64,000
> >question.  As I recall, some of our more useless politicians raced
> >to the scene, holding hearings and proposing to make it a federal
> >offense to rig TV game shows.  Fortunately, the country had no
> >problems at the time, only segregation and a few other matters, and
> >so Congress was free to deal with this crisis.
> >
> >* I forget his name: Charles, Jr.?  He was the son of either Charles
> >or Mark, noted men of letters of the era.
> Charles Van Doren; Mark was his father.  Both were noted men of
> letters.  The show was "21", hosted by Jack Barry.  That was actually
> the one mired in scandal, although as I recall "The $64,000 question"
> and I think other quiz shows were all either implicated or suffered
> from guilt by association and cancelled around the same time.  It's
> "21" that the (quite good) movie "Quiz Show" was based on.
> LH
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