Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Astonishingly Cool Game Show Moments (That May or May Not Have Actually Happened)

I won't deny it. I loves me some goddamn game shows. But it's not the mental challenge or the thrill of competition that draws me in. I don't give a rat's ass about the fabulous prizes ("A year supply of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat!") and I couldn't care less about the smarmy has-been celebrities who pander pathetically to the studio audiences.

No, I watch game shows for the same reason most people watch NASCAR. I want to see a massive, flaming wreck. When you put average, ordinary people under that kind of pressure in front of a camera, shit is going to happen.

What follows are some astonishingly cool things that may or may not have happened on game shows. Most of them are urban legends, which means that you probably heard about them from friends who claim they actually saw them happen, or claim that they know someone who actually saw them happen. No offense, but your friends are lying sacks of crap. (Unless they're me. See The $100,000 Pyramid below.)

So here we go. Big prizes. No whammy. And... stop!

The Newlywed Game
This one is probably the queen mother of game show urban legends. Host Bob Eubanks asked Henry Perez "Where is the weirdest place that your wife has ever gotten the urge to make whoopee?" Henry mulled it over and answered, "In our car, on the freeway." Then his wife Olga came out. Bob asked her the same question. She stammered and looked helplessly at her husband for a second before finally answering, "Is it in the ass?"

Is It True?
Versions of this story have been floating around for 30 years, but Bob steadfastly claimed that it was just a legend and it never happened. However, he was proven wrong when the episode (which originally aired in 1977) turned up on the Game Show Network a couple of years ago. So yes. It really happened.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
Earlier this year, an e-mail started circulating about a hapless contestant named Kathy Evans who found herself stymied by the first question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. If you've ever watched the show, you know the first question is only worth $100 and is supposed to be a gimme.

So after Meredith Vierira introduced her, Kathy was given her first question. It was:

"Which of the following is the largest?"
A) A Peanut
B) An Elephant
C) The Moon
D) A Tennis Ball

Unable to come up with the answer on her own, Kathy used the first of her lifelines, the 50/50. Two answers were removed, leaving B) An Elephant and C) The Moon. Still unsure, Kathy decided to use her second lifeline and phoned her friend Betsy. Betsy quickly assured her the answer was C) The Moon, but Kathy didn't believe she knew for certain. Just to make sure, she used up her last lifeline and asked the audience. The audience responded with an overwhelming 98% in favor of C) The Moon. But Kathy decided to go with her gut and she answered B) An Elephant.

Is It True?
In a word, no. The picture that accompanied the e-mail was actually Photoshopped from an image of Fiona Wheeler, who was on the UK version of the show. While there have been some boneheaded contestants, the entire Kathy Evans story was a fabrication. (Incidentally, Fiona did quite well on her appearance and wound up winning £32,000.)

Password Plus
My cousin told me this one back in the 80s. Tom Selleck was partnered up with an African American woman. Host Bert Convy informs the audience that "the password is... DEER." Selleck thinks for a second, and offers the clue "DOE..." His partner responds immediately, "KNOB?"

Is It True?
Probably not. There are an awful lot of variations floating around online (many of which end with the angry contestant suing for discrimination). Several celebrities have tried to attach themselves to the incident. Jamie Farr claimed it was he, and not Tom Selleck, who gave the "doe" clue. Nipsey Russell once claimed that he was the one who had responded "knob." But so far, it hasn't turned up in syndication.

Wheel of Fortune
Vanna White told this story on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson back in 1985. The puzzle category was "Title" and one of the contestants had managed to pretty much sweep the round. He'd been spinning and hitting big numbers and had filled in almost all the letters. It was obvious to all watching that the answer was "GONE WITH THE WIND," but the guy kept on spinning and building up his winnings. Finally, everyone was relieved when he announced he would like to solve the puzzle. With utter confidence, he proclaimed, "DONE WITH ONE HAND."

Is It True?
The part about Vanna telling the story is true. I have no idea if the incident happened as reported or not, but I do remember quite well the dormant feelings Vanna awoke in me when my body first blossomed into manhood. I'm sure "DONE WITH ONE HAND" would have been foremost in my mind as well...

The $100,000 Pyramid
Okay, this one is a little different because I saw it! It was 1986, and I was in my dorm room between classes, eating a turkey sandwich and watching a little Pyramid. I believe the celebrity was Linda Evans. The contestant was a grandmotherly type in her late 50s/early 60s. They had won the game and were now trying to hit the jackpot in the Winner's Circle.

In case you don't remember, the Winner's Circle worked like this: the celebrity would be given a category, such as "THINGS THAT ARE BLUE." The celebrity would then list items in that category, such as "the sky... your dress... a sad song..." until the contestant guessed the category. If they managed to get through all six categories, the contestant would win mucho dinero.

So Linda and the contestant are working their way up the pyramid, and the category "THINGS BELOW YOUR WAIST" comes up. Linda is a bit dumbfounded. She stammers for a second. Then she finally says, "Um, your genital organs."

The kindly old contestant, whom I really do believe was somebody's grandmother, immediately responds, "Things you touch!"

Linda gets flustered. She can't think of anything else. She just keeps saying, "Um, your genital organs." And the contestant begins frantically blurting out, "Things you touch! Things you rub! Things you massage! Things you stroke!"

Is It True?
Yes, goddammit! I swear! I remember calling all my friends while it was going on to ask them if they were watching it, but they were all in class or at lunch. But I still cling to the hope that I will one day be vindicated by the Game Show Network.


Professor said...

this is a great post! Fun to read and lots og giggles whether it's true or not! Thanks!

Farrago said...

Okay...The Pyramid one is too funny!

Kinda like when I was watching "Animaniacs" or no apparent reason in 1993 or '94. There was one of those frentic segues between stories, consisting of dozens of images flashing by in a second. The screen froze just a little longer on a cartoon image of a boy, his arm outstretched, tightly gripping a chicken by the neck!

I missed the whole next cartoon because I was literally ROTFLMAO.

Matt said...

This is funny stuff...I found this by searching for Password and Doe. I saw the episode! I was in junior high and was watching it when it occurred. Tom Selleck was the star and there was a large African-American woman as the "regular" person. He said "Doe" and she said knob. I've told the story over and over and over. Never read it on the web, never seen it in an email or anything. This actually happened.

Would love to find a way to get video and put it on the web or something. I have no idea if there was a lawsuit or anything, I just know you should change it from "doubtful" to "true."



Anonymous said...

The "doe knob" incident is true. I watched it live as it happened. My friend, his father and I laughed so hard we almost threw up. Don't make it into a racist thing and enter all of these philosophical theories about it. It really happened.

Anonymous said...

Tom Selleck story is true...I saw it as well, although I'm pretty sure it was Allen Ludden as the host and the clue was "money" and Tom said "dough"...then the lady said knob. I think I remember Tom falling out of his chair.

Anonymous said...

The clue was "money". The first celebrity offered the clue "bread" and the contestant didn't guess correctly. The next celebrity suggested "dough". The black man guessed "knob". Everyone was silent for a brief moment while his answer registered and then everyone started laughing SO hard. The contestant buried his head on his arms out of embarrassment. They had to break for a commercial because no one could stop laughing.

Anonymous said...

For comment left on 5/14/2012 - Does anyone know what date this episode aired? Or is there a video available online? I saw it too and it was freakin hilarious! Allen Ludden couldnt stop laughing. LMAO

Anonymous said...

The "Doe Knob" incident on the Password show is true. Allen Ludden was the host. I'm a black man, I saw it, and it was hilarious! It was so funny even the picture was shaking from the camera man's laughter and they had to cut to a commercial. I've been telling people about it for years and wish I could find the clip. It's too bad people try to turn it into a racial issue. It was just plain funny!

Anonymous said...

I, too, saw the episode of Password where the black lady answered 'knob' to the clue of 'doe' when the answer was 'deer.' I came by here while googling and trying to find a clip of it. I guess it's in a can in some warehouse in NYC.

Anonymous said...

I actually saw the video on the internet during the dial up days. I searched for it online about 5 plus years ago and an article said there was a lawsuit and it was removed from the internet as part of the settlement. It was funny but since the answer provided by the contestant caused everyone to bust out laughing, I am certain that the show paid the person money and agreed to keep it off tv/internet in later years.

Anonymous said...

I happened to see the "Doe Knob" episode of Password as well. Yes, if was spontaneously hilarious. I don't remember the white male celebrity's name, but his clue was obviously "doe" (to the "DEER" password). It was the manner in which he stretched the presentation of his clue by turning and leaning into the contestant and saying "dooooooooe?" and with only a slight pause, the contestant responded with "knob". Yes, I rolled on the floor like just about anyone else watching at that time. It's too bad this has become a racial thing because I can't tell you how many times my Italian father attempted to say " sheet" & "fork" and it erupted in laughter. I guess Pop could have cashed in if he just considered suing everyone that found humor in his culture.

Anonymous said...

As I recall, the answer was buck. But it was Tom Selleck and Allen Ludden.

Jaycee Adams said...

The answer was "deer", Tom Selleck gave the clue "doe", the lady said "knob", Selleck laughed so hard he got sued. I'm pretty sure it was one of the Pyramid shows, and I don't remember which host it was any more, whether it was Dick Clark or Bert Convy or someone else.

I saw it in a clip show on TV about funniest gameshow moments about 15 or so years ago. I don't remember its name, but I do remember it was a short series, like 6 episodes, and the host was a well-known gameshow host (except to me, because I never watched any of his gameshows), so I don't remember his name. (I wanna say he was one of the hosts of one of the Newlywed games, but definitely not Chuck Woolery.)

I am shocked to see so many widely varying "first hand" accounts of it. Based on that, I would have concluded it to be false too, but since I actually saw it myself, I have no such luxury.

About 6 months after this clip show aired, I saw the thing on Snopes and gave them all the relevant info while it was still fresh in my memory, but they never bothered to check it out for themselves. In more recent years, they've been caught multiple times being little more than a Leftist propaganda machine.