Sunday’s Den: 13 memorable TV game shows…….

13) Jeopardy!— I liked it better in the old days; Art Fleming was the host; he even appeared in Airplane 2- when the plane was in trouble, one of the passengers said “We’re in real jeopardy now!!!” and Fleming appears at the front of the plane with the Jeopardy! board behind him and one of the contestants says, “I’d like airplane disasters for $200, Art”

Jeopardy! Is low on this list because I never knew a lot of the answers.

12) Jokers’ Wild— Billed as “the game where knowledge is king and lady luck is queen” Jack Barry was the host. He’d get excited if a contestant spun and three jokers came up on the board: “joker, joker……..and a triple!!!”

Contestants answered questions based on categories determined randomly by a mechanism resembling a slot machine.

11) Deal or No Deal?— Howie Mandel hosted this show, and my dad loved watching it, not really sure why, but he did. He liked it so much that one year for Christmas I got him a Howie Mandel bobblehead; if you press the button, it asks “Deal, or No Deal?” The bobblehead is still sitting over there on the shelf.

10) $10,000 Pyramid— The game features two contestants, each paired with a celebrity; one teammate tries to guess a series of words or phrases based on descriptions given to them by their teammates. Whoever wins advanced to the big pyramid, where if the person got through all the categories in time, they’d win the $10,000 (or $50,000, in later versions of the show)

Dick Clark hosted this show for a long time; so did Bill Cullen. Some of the celebrities were a lot better than others at this game; pretty tough for the contestant to win any $$$ if their celebrity teammate was a nitwit.

9) Gambit— There were two teams of married couples competing; Wink Martindale was the host; there was a toss-up question, and if couple got it right, they could take the next card drawn, or give it to their opponent. If they got it wrong, the other couple controlled the card.

Each subsequent card was presented face-down and was turned up once the couple in control decided who should receive it. After a couple received any card (either by choice or by having it passed to them) and could potentially bust with another card, they could elect to freeze, preventing them from receiving any more cards.

Wink Martindale was excellent on this show; if a couple went over 21 and lost, he’d break out into his “…….too much, and the game goes to the Ostranders” bit. When I was 12, I loved this show.

8) Let’s Make a Deal— Monty Hall hosted this show, where the contestants would dress up in outrageous costumes and try to get Hall to pick them out. Once chosen, Monty Hall would give the person something of value, then ask if they wanted to trade it for whatever was behind one of three curtains on the stage; it might be a car, it might be canned squid.

There was no actual skill involved in the show, just the drama of seeing their reactions when they either won something big or got stiffed.

Remember the movie Last Vegas? The woman who played Kevin Kline’s wife in the movie is Joanna Gleason, who in real life is Monty Hall’s daughter.

7) Wheel of Fortune— Sad to hear this week that Pat Sajak is retiring as host after this season, his 41st year hosting Wheel of Fortune— the show has been on TV continuously since 1975.

Contestants solve word puzzles, similar to those in Hangman, to win cash and prizes determined by spinning a giant carnival wheel. Vanna White got famous simply by turning the letters on the board, and of course, because she seems nice and is beautiful.

Pat Sajak hosted a talk show in the early 80’s and left the daytime Wheel of Fortune; one of his replacements was Rolf Benirschke, who previously was a kicker for the San Diego Chargers.

6) The Price Is Right— When I was in high school, Price Is Right was on at 3:00, Match Game at 3:30. Spent lot of time watching those two shows.

Price Is Right is obviously still on, with Drew Carey having taken over for Bob Barker as host. Contestants compete by guessing the prices of merchandise to win cash and prizes; at the end there is a showcase, where the best prizes were won/lost.

In a 2007 article, TV Guide named it the “greatest game show of all time.”

5) Match Game— This show has had many different versions; the one I loved was on in the 70’s. Two contestants competed to match their answers with six celebrities on the panel, some of whom were there to provide comic relief.

Gene Rayburn was the host; Richard Dawson, Brett Somers and Charles Nelson-Reilly were the regular panelists (Brett Somers played Oscar Madison’s ex-wife in The Odd Couple).

I remember that two of the occasional celebrities were Joyce Bulifant and Elaine Joyce; their answers were usually terrible, hard to match.

4) Concentration— This show was on daytime TV from 1958-91; the hosts I remember were Hugh Downs (before he went to the Today Show), Ed McMahon and Bob Clayton.

This game took actual skill; you had to remember what was behind each square of the puzzle. If you guessed that #6 and #8 were the same and they were, they were taken off the board and parts of the puzzle were exposed. If you removed enough squares, it would be easier to solve the puzzle that was behind the squares.

There were 30 squares on the board; this game should come back on TV. 

3) Password— Allen Ludden hosted this show; he was married to Betty White. There is a great episode of The Odd Couple, where Felix/Oscar go on Password and play against Betty White and her partner.

Two teams, each composed of a celebrity and a contestant, try to convey mystery words to each other using only single-word clues, in order to win cash prizes.

In the Odd Couple episode, Felix guesses “Aristophanes” as an answer, which was horribly wrong. Oscar tells him it was a ridiculous answer. The next word comes up “ridiculous” and Oscar’s hint was……. “Aristophanes” to which Felix answers “ridiculous!!!”  Great TV.

2) Hollywood Squares— Nine celebrities sit in a huge tic-tac-toe board; contestants win a square when a celebrity answers the question— the contestant has to agree/disagree with their answer.

Peter Marshall was the host; his son Pete LaCock played for the Cubs for a few years. Once in a while, a contestant would screw up and choose the wrong square to play. Marshall would say, “I might have gone with Wally Cox to block, but this might work out for you”

Paul Lynde was most always the center square; Wally Cox upper left, Charley Weaver lower left, Rose Marie upper middle.

This show was on at 11:30 weekdays for most of my childhood.

1) The Gong Show— Chuck Barris invented The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game; he was later the host of The Gong Show, which was American Idol 20 years before, except virtually no one on the show had any talent.

Contestants would come on the show and perform; three celebrities were on the left, and if one of thought the act sucked (most of them did) they would bang the gong and the contestant left. Someone would win each show (there were some good acts) but the prizes weren’t much.

Chuck Barris was the star; he would say to someone who got gonged “I liked your act, but then again, I like gas fumes” It was bizarre TV, but it was funny as hell.

There was a regular who would appear every so often before commercials; the Unknown Comic. He wore a bag over his head, and would tell off-color jokes to Chuck, who would then send the show into commercials. “Chucky, Chucky, let’s dress up as a horse for Halloween. I’ll be the front end, and you just be yourself”

I was in college then, never scheduled any classes between 12-2; that’s when the Gong Show was on. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.