Game shows have been around for decades. The appeal of game shows to the American public has not wavered. People watch them not only to play along with the game but also to watch what other people say and do on the shows. It is very easy to think you can do better than someone else on the show, but being on that stage leads to some memorable moments. The contestants on game shows aren’t actors but regular people. The reality of it makes those moments that much more shocking. From scandals to memorable runs, here are the five most shocking moments in game show history.
1. Charles Van Doren Scandal
‘Twenty One’ was a popular game show in the 1950’s on NBC. At some point during the early run of the show, producers of the show began giving answers to questions in advance. In 1956, a man named Herb Stempel was on a winning streak. Stempel was a relatively unattractive man who didn’t hold much appeal with mass audiences. Charles Van Doren, an attractive Columbia professor, took on Stempel. Stempel missed a question he knew the answer to because he was instructed to let Van Doren win. Over the next couple of years, an angered Stempel cried that the show was fixed. Eventually, the scandal came to light. Van Doren was fired at Columbia and producers of the show were banned. Game shows in general took a major knock to their reputation.
2. Ken Jennings
Originally on ‘Jeopardy!’, players could win only a maximum of five times. This rule was lifted in 2003 and players could stay beyond their five wins. Along came Ken Jennings, who wound up winning 74 games in a row. Jennings walked away with a game show record $2.5 million from his initial run on the show. His run on ‘Jeopardy!’ landed him gigs on other shows, including a regular stint on ‘1 vs 100.’ Perhaps more shocking, Jennings was upset in the ‘Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions,’ finishing second.
3. Press Your Luck Scandal
This wasn’t so much a scandal as someone simply beating the system. ‘Press Your Luck’ was a show in which contestants hit a button to stop a cursor on a point that gives them money. While the pattern of the cursor movement seemed random, contestant Michael Larson exposed it in 1984. Larson memorized the pattern and managed 45 spins without catching a whammy. He made off with over $110,000 on his one appearance. Larson was cleared of wrong doing and allowed to keep his winnings.
4. Flashing on The Price Is Right
Anyone who has seen ‘The Price is Right’ knows that when the announcer tells someone to ‘come on down,’ that person is usually full of joy. Such was the case in 1978, when a contestant rushed the stage much like any other contestant does. In this case though, the tube top she was wearing started slipping until her chest was exposed. The live audience and host Bob Barker saw the whole thing happened, though it was censored for the home audience.
5. Shocking Answer on The Newlywed Game
Most people remember ‘The Newlywed Game’ for the phrase ‘making whoopee’ that was commonly used on the show. In 1977, host Bob Eubanks posed a question about the most unusual place that a couple had made whoopee. While most people interpreted that to mean a location, including the husband who wrote his answer on the card, the wife responded by saying it was in a particular body part. Adding to the stunning moment was that evidence of it didn’t exist for nearly 25 years, when Eubanks revealed the incident on a show about outrageous game show moments.
Twenty One Scandal
Jennings Streak Ends