the dark side of game shows

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Game shows have provided a sweet offering of thrills, laughter, unforgettable moments and cult heroes since the dawn of “Golden Age” on television in the 1950s.

Yet behind this small-screen facade of cheerful, fully-capped telegenic hosts hides a sinister cauldron of sexual intercourse, greed, dishonest and inappropriate conduct that sometimes rears its head, exposing its ugly belly to America.

Level example: Mike Richards, who lasted 9 days as the new host of “Jeopardy!” before stepping down on Friday amid controversy over previous misogynistic comments and various lawsuits. It stays with TV’s highest rated game as a government producer. Go determine.

The “Jeopard! Kerfuffle is simply the latest in a long line of nefarious incidents that have plagued game shows since Dwight Eisenhower was president. Here are 4 more.

The quagmire “Quiz Show”

In the fifties, the infamous “Quiz Show Scandals” rocked the business and all but destroyed the style after the phrase erupted that the producers of the NBC game presented “Twenty-One” were making sure the golden boy of the ‘Ivy League, Charles Van Doren (who was in the plan) defeated Herb Stempel, a Queens-born trivia prodigy who had already won nearly $ 70,000 in prizes and was set to defeat the fan favorite , Van Doren.

The “Twenty-One” scandal then formed the basis of the 1994 film “Quiz Show”, starring Ralph Fiennes as Van Doren and John Turturro as Stempel.

Charles Van Doren on “Twenty-One”, the first of the huge game show scandals.
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A harmful “dating game”

In 1978 Rodney Alcala – armed with unkempt hair and a disarming smile – appeared on the popular daytime show “The Dating Game”. As “Bachelor # 1” he was launched by host Jim Lange as “a successful photographer who made his debut when his father found him in the darkroom at the age of 13” . Alcala competed against two different “eligible singles” for a date with contestant Cheryl Bradshaw – who, hidden behind a wall, asked them main questions according to the titillating format of the show.

When Bradshaw asked Alcala his first question, “What’s your best time?” He smiled and replied, “The best time is at night. The night. He won the match, but Bradshaw refused to date him because she found him scary. One of Alcala’s single colleagues in “Dating Game”, Jed Mills, told CNN in 2010 that Alcala “got very unfriendly, rude and imposing like he was trying to intimidate … he got scarier. and more negative “.

The following year, 1979, Alcala was arrested, and later convicted, for the murder of a 12-year-old girl who was about to take a ballet class in Huntington Beach, Calif., One of eight murders he finally admitted. , with two in New York City (a restaurant heiress and a TWA flight attendant, for which he was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list in 1971). He was suspected of numerous additional crimes.

The serial killer, who was serving a number of life sentences, died in prison in July of “unspecified causes” at the age of 77. ), remains a thriller.

Photo showing Rodney Alcala and Cheryl Bradshaw on
Rodney Alcala and Cherly Bradshaw in “The Dating Game” in 1978.
Youtube

“Tap your luck” game

Michael Larson, an eccentric contestant of “Press Your Luck,” didn’t break any rules – technically – but his run on the CBS daytime show raised a lot of eyebrows and forced the show, and others, to to change the way they programmed their computer systems. .

Larson, 34, bearded and dressed in a thrifty sports coat, appeared on “Press Your Luck” in 1984 to try his luck successfully in the game, in which contestants answered questions by buzzing over a huge tableau, in the hope of keeping away from the dreaded “Whammy”, who could take away all their winnings until then.

Larson landed on a “Whammy” the first time around, but then, in a blur of lightning-fast solutions and buzzes, he won $ 110,000 in a single game, leaving current host Peter Tomarken and the others behind. contestants Ed Long and Janie Litras Dakin almost speechless.

“Here is this guy who needed to be groomed and who bought a sports coat in a thrift store on his way home [to play the game]. I just knew I could beat him. I was there to win, “Dakin told The Post in 2019.” As I went along, I was like, ‘Is that’ Candid Camera ‘or something? There’s something wrong here , go. “

As it turned out, Larson, an unemployed ice cream truck driver, had spent the previous year discovering tapes of “Press Your Luck” episodes on his VCR (keep them in mind?) , to memorize the 5 money winning patterns of the game board and, in each sample, the place where a “Whammy” would appear and take his money.

CBS considered stripping Larson of his winnings, but allowed him to keep the $ 110,000 because he didn’t break any rules. None of their wildest goals imagined someone memorizing digital game board metrics. “Press Your Luck” revamped its game board, supposedly making it impossible to remember, and different shows using like-minded electronic swimwear have adopted it.

In the years that followed, Larson lost most of his “Press Your Luck” bounty in a succession of get-rich-quick schemes. When he died in 1999 from most throat cancers at the age of 48, he was under investigation for fraud by the SEC, FBI and IRS.

Photo showing Michael Larson on
Michael Larson throughout his incredible run on “Press Your Luck” in 1984.

Wrongdoing at “The Price Is Right”

The front of broadcast legend Bob Barker’s “good guy” as an animal advocate – he closed every giveaway with his slogan: “And remember folks, always spay or neuter your pets!” – was irreparably dented in 1994, when “Barker Beauty” and Playboy front page Dian Parkinson sued him for $ 8 million for alleged sexual harassment following an illegal dismissal.

Photo showing Janice Pennington, Bob Barker and Holly Hallstrom smiling for the cameras at a book party in 1994.
Holly Hallstrom (from left), Bob Barker and Janice Pennington on an e-book in 1994.
Ron Galella Collection via Getty

In her trial, Parkinson, who had been with the present for 18 years, claimed she had been pressured to have oral sex with Barker in her dressing room “about twice a week” for three and a half years, “of first by using force and later by other means of coercion, “according to an Associated Press report. She also claimed in court documents that she had sex with Barker six or eight times, fearing that she would be fired if she refused.

Barker, who retired in 2007 and is now 97, retorted that she had initiated “a little hanky-panky” and managed to have a consensual relationship with Parkinson’s for a year and a half. One election rejected the cost of the wrongful termination of the swimsuit, but left the cost of sexual harassment unchanged. Then, in 1995, Parkinson dropped the whole shebang, citing the medical stress associated with the trial (a bleeding ulcer) and his inability to afford a costly authorized battle.

Still, such a “hanky-panky” on set seemed to be prevalent.

Photo showing Kathleen Bradley posing at an event in 2018.
Kathleen Bradley on an occasion in 2018.
Getty Images

“We were going out in swimsuits and bikinis – who wasn’t going to watch? Kathleen Bradley, former “Price Is Right” model, told The Post about her time in the present, which led to 2000 and which she chronicled in her 2014 eBook, “Backstage at The Price Is Right: Memoirs of a Barker Beauty. “” I keep in mind that CBS released a memo – they had what they called the ‘eight second rule’. If, for some reason, a man looked at you for more than eight seconds, it was thought to be sexual harassment.

“Some guys backstage would bump into you if you came over for the next scene. One guy was so cool he bought a Polaroid camera, lay down on the floor and started taking pictures up to our skirts… but after a while he became one of my best friends Added Bradley, now 70.

Still, she said: “Bob [Barker] never did anything offensive or demeaning to me.

In the aftermath of Parkinson’s lawsuit, the floodgates opened and Barker was faced with a flood of litigation. In 1995, ‘Barker Beauty’ model Holly Hallstrom left the show, after which she sued Barker, claiming she was fired for not defending him in the Parkinson’s drama – and claiming that ‘he had asked her to reveal false details about Parkinson’s. Barker sued for slander and the case was settled out of court.

In October 2000, Bradley and Janice Pennington – a unique “Barker Beauty” – were unleashed from the present. Pennington, who passed out in 1988 by a “Price Is Right” digital camera, signed a confidential agreement. Bradley obtained an undisclosed financial settlement.

“Bob became such a bitter guy if you didn’t like him,” Bradley said. “His ego got the better of him. “


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