The $64,000 Question
Mike Bluemel and Kobe Wycklendt Hour 6
The $64,000 was a game show that aired 1955-1958. The contestants were asked a series of 11 questions within a topic that they chose at the beginning of their time on the show. None of these questions were multiple choice making them much harder to answer. Each question is worth more and more money as you go on and eventually reaches $64,000. That amount of money is equivalent to $560,000 today. If they are content with the money they had earned before they reached the final question they could leave with the money that they had already won. But if they failed to answer a question correctly when they were far into the show, they would win a constellation prize which was often a Cadillac.
Below is a video of one of the original showings
The $64,000 Question game show Part 1
The $64,000 Question became the most popular television show at the time and became one of the only shows during this time period to be rated higher than "I Love Lucy". One Tuesday night the show was watched by 55 million Americans which was an extremely astronomical viewership for the time or even today. It is said that president Eisenhower even reserved his Tuesday nights for watching this show. Revlon, a cosmetics company that sponsored this show had its sales go up 54% in the first six months of the show's broadcast and then they tripled in the next year thanks to this gameshow.
When the rigging of the CBS game "Dotto" show was revealed in May 1958, ratings for all the quiz shows tumbled. More and more former quiz show contestants came forward to reveal how they had been coached. A contestant from "The $64,000 Challenge," the Reverend Charles E. "Stony" Jackson, gave details to a grand jury, saying that he was given answers during his "screening" that enabled him to win. By October, 1958, The $64,000 Question was off the air. Louis Cowan, the president of CBS, defended his innocence but was forced to resign and many others that were involved were blacklisted.
As I learned about this television show I learned about how successful it had become. It's insane to think how many people watched this show and how much money it had earned its producers as well as its sponsors. It also surprised me how long it took in order for people to figure out that these shows were cheating, I would've thought that at least one of the contestants would've tried to make money turning in the show a long time before it did. I found this topic extremely interesting and I'm glad we chose it to do our project on it.
I thought it was really cool how much money they won. It is equivalent to over a half million dollars today and it is crazy that they gave away even $64,000 back then. Also, I thought it was cool how even if the contestant lost, they still got a prize which was commonly a Cadillac. I thought that was really cool because you still get something cool just for playing. Lastly, I thought it was strange how they rigged it to make it more interesting. I would think it is more interesting if people genuinely had to know the information. Overall, I thought it was a really interesting and fun topic.