Wednesday, August 9, 2017


A thread on Game Show Paradise offers an odd assertion: "I have a feeling Mark Goodson may have been rigging shows such as Card Sharks and The Price is Right in the 1980s." As it stands, the comment is almost surely wrong. After the rigging scandals of the 1950s, game show producers in general and Mark Goodson in particular became very sensitive to anything that might remotely resemble rigging.

In fact, Goodson's squeamishness on the issue helped sink the 1983-84 Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour. He forbade the practice of scripting the celebs on Squares, and that verboten helped turn the format into a dull, long-winded bore. (MG-HS had several other problems as well.)

As to whether Goodson ever tolerated practices that might be seen as rigging in today's world, the issue is a little cloudier. NBC news reader Tom Brokaw appeared on Two for the Money in 1957 when he was seventeen. In much later life he intimated the show was rigged. As I vaguely recall, this brought a screech from showrunner Ira Skutch, and Brokaw started backtracking quickly. In fact, in his memoirs Skutch tells a funny story of how the lack of rigging on the show cost the producers a lot of money. It was all about a question on words ending in "th."

It's hard to imagine why anybody would bother to rig Two for the Money, anyway, since the game was pretty much an afterthought. The show was mostly a monologue/interview vehicle for host Herb Shriner. You can sample an ep on YouTube.

There were some other practices on Goodson shows that fell short of actual rigging but wouldn't pass muster nowadays, like coaching contestants on possible freeze levels on the original TPiR. But once the scandals broke, Mark Goodson turned holier than thou about any kind of chicanery.


  1. You do realize Shriner did not host the entire run of Two for the Money, right? He was gone in the later years.

    1. Shriner hosted 1952-56, all but the final season. Levenson hosted the last season, 1956-57.

      Levenson did sub a few times before the last season. So did Walter O'Keefe. But Shriner was the main host for the show's run. He was definitely the personality that Goodson-Todman built the show around. Shriner was their answer to Groucho's You Bet Your Life.

      Another bit of trivia: Ed McMahon of eventual Tonight Show fame was one of the show's announcers.

    2. You connected the show to Shriner, however that was not the case when Brokaw appeared, so perhaps it was rigged at that point.

    3. I didn't "connect" the show to Shriner. He was the host for almost all its run. That's just a fact, though you always have trouble with facts.

      As I recall, Brokaw backed off the rigging talk when Skutch complained. As I said, rigging Two for the Money would have made little sense because the game was such a minor part of the show.

    4. He was not the host when Brokaw appeared, and you implied he was. That's a fact.

    5. I didn't say anything about the host when Brokaw appeared. But I don't expect you to read my entries too carefully because I don't think you can read.

      I did say that the show was mainly a monologue/interview vehicle for Herb Shriner. That's obviously true because he was the host for almost all of the show's run.

      Go back to with the other trolls.

  2. By the way, the best article I found on the show is from the Mark Goodson wiki...

    The article says that besides substitutes Sam Levenson and Walter O'Keefe, Fred Allen also did one ep. But Shriner was always the main guy. Once he left, the show lasted only one more season.

    Lots of nice images in the article, by the way.

  3. The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour was Mark Goodson at his worst. And Mark Goodson was a fantastic producer to say the least. But Goodson never understood comedy game shows. He tried to wreck Match Game many times because he knew game play well and thought if you weren't true to that, the game would be destroyed. Gene Rayburn and Ira Sckutz saved and made Match Game the tremendous hit it became. (Look at the 90s Match Game that only lasted one year.)
    Anyways, When he took out the comedy of the Hollywood Squares and the fun regulars from both The Match Game and Hollywood Squares, and using yes/no questions on the Squares...what a mess!
    It came down to Soap Week Shows on the MG/HS and it was terrible.

    1. I may be in the minority, but I did enjoy The MG/HS Hour a lot. In fact, it was my most favorite incarnation of MG, despite a short run of nine months. Then again, I was 11 years old early in 1984.

      For the record, HS did not just involve yes/no questions. More like "A or B" questions.