Wednesday, November 12, 2003

My younger daughter wrote me yesterday with this question:
"Is it true you were on some t.v. game show as a kid? if so, what show?"

I had such fun recalling the details of an incident from the early days of TV that I thought I'd post my complete reply:

Where did you hear this? I ask because it's absolutely true. We were on
"Beat the Clock." It was a half hour stunt show on Saturday nights. They chose
three families that they featured on each show, with commercial breaks to
separate them and allow set-up of the props, etc. This was live television--
what happened on stage, including commercials, is what you saw at home
without any editing.

We got tickets to be in the audience and filled out the form as a lark, never
thinking we would be selected. We were picked as the back-up family to the
chosen three and thought we would never get on. But the son of one of the
families, a cub scout in full uniform (talk about trying to brown nose your way
onto television!) froze solid with stage fright and we were on. You had to do
three stunts--one that involved manipulating things physically with various body
parts, one that involved whipped cream or other substances being shot at you,
and the magnetic board that had scrambled sayings you had to unscramble.
Every stunt had a strictly timed deadline. As it was very close to Christmas,
some of the stunts had holiday themes that night.

First stunt: Three flat cardboard Christmas wreaths were on pegs sticking out
from a panel. I was on my father's shoulders and had to hook the wreaths on my nose one by one without dropping any. I wore glasses so I had no trouble at all hooking and holding them.

Second stunt: My father was outfitted with a rubber sheet and cap and had to hold a miniature Christmas tree in front of his face. My mother was given a high pressure whipped cream siphon and had to shoot the ornaments out of the tree. She aced that one.

No, I am NOT making this up.

Third stunt: The magnetic Board. My mother did this as she was very good at cross word puzzles and verbal things. I don't remember the saying but she took one look at it and got it rearranged incredibly fast.

We won a Kodak flash camera, a bicycle for me and a Sylvania 21 inch TV with "halo light," a florescent frame around the picture tube that was supposed to relieve the anxiety of mothers all over America that watching television in a darkened room would destroy their childrens' eyes. Nobody realized then that what it would actually destroy was their brains.

My aunt and grandmother were at home watching the show. When we came on, they were excited, of course, but not prepared for neighbors to come running out of their apartments pounding on the door yelling "They're on TELEVISION! They're on TELEVISION!!!!!" Remember, this was 1952 and our downstairs neighbors still had a huge framed magnifying lens in front of a three inch wide TV screen.

So, that was my fifteen minutes--literally--of fame.



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