Tag Archive | Game Shows

Family Feud

A TV staple since 1976

July 12, 2022

The concept of this game show is fairly simple: two groups of five people – families – compete to see which group can successfully guess the top answers to questions answered by a studio audience.

The Family Feud premiered on July 12, 1976. It has been one of the longest running and most popular game shows on American television.

When it first went on the air, it was hosted by Richard Dawson, a British actor made famous as Lieutenant Newkirk on the 1960s sitcom, Hogan’s Heros. When that series ended, Dawson became a regular on The Match Game and was then made the first host of Family Feud.

Dawson was known for his kissing of the female contestants; a practice which drew criticism during the show’s first iteration. For Dawson, however, it seemed to have worked out well. From an article in Good Housekeeping, we learn:

UNITED STATES – APRIL 16: FAMILY FEUD – 4/16/81, Show coverage. Pictured: host Richard Dawson, (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

“He allegedly asked viewers to vote on whether or not they would like him to stop. The votes came in 14,600 to 704 in favor of kissing, according to Hogan’s Heroes: The Unofficial Company. The book also reveals that contestants filled out a questionnaire before each game including, “Do you mind if Richard Dawson greets you with a kiss?” Apparently, not many declined.

As controversial as the kissing was, in 1981, Dawson planted a peck on a woman who would eventually become his second wife. Forty-nine-year-old Dawson met 24-year-old Gretchen Johnson when she was a contestant on the show.”

Dawson continued as host for the next nine years but the kissing stopped after he and Gretchen were married.

The show had two subsequent hosts after Dawson but the show – and game shows in particular – had lost popularity with the viewing public.

Dawson with future wife Heather when she was a contestant on the show.

That all changed when, in 2010, they hit upon Steve Harvey, a host who was so relatable that it’s ratings skyrocketed back to the top. The infallible Wikipedia shares:

“The show’s Nielsen ratings were at 1.5, putting it in danger of cancellation once again (as countless affiliates that carried the show from 1999 to 2010 aired it in daytime, graveyard or other low-rated time slots). Since Steve Harvey took over the show, ratings increased by as much as 40%, and within two short years, the show was rated at 4.0, and had become the fifth-most-popular syndicated program. Fox News’ Paulette Cohn argued that Harvey’s ‘relatability,’ or ‘understanding of what the people at home want to know,’ was what saved the show from cancellation; Harvey himself debated, ‘If someone said an answer that was so ridiculous, I knew that the people at home behind the camera had to be going, ‘What did they just say?’ … They gave this answer that doesn’t have a shot in hell of being up there. The fact that I recognize that, that’s comedic genius to me. I think that’s [what made] the difference.’

One of the things which has endeared Steve Harvey to Family Feud fans is his expressive face.

Steve Harvey’s Family Feud has regularly ranked among the top 10 highest-rated programs in all of daytime television programming and third among game shows (behind Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!); in February 2014, the show achieved a 6.0 share in the Nielsen ratings, with approximately 8.8 million viewers. In June 2015, Family Feud eclipsed Wheel of Fortune, which had been on top for over 30 years, as the most-watched syndicated game show on television, and consistently began ranking among the top three shows in all of syndication.”

Unlike Dawson, Harvey does not kiss the female contestants. I think the thing which makes him so endearing is that he clearly is having fun as he hosts. You see him laughing along with the contestants and the audience at the ridiculous answers often given.

I had not watched Family Feud since the 1970’s when Dawson was the host. But in early 2012 when my mother landed in one particular care facility, their version of getting the residents up and interactive was to move them to a half circle of recliners set up to watch TV each morning and afternoon.

In my mother’s ‘house’ there were six residents plus one particular twice a day visitor and fixture, also known as my Dad. When I would visit Mom at the facility, Family Feud was often playing on the big TV.

For me, I always enjoyed the show but my dad, well, not so much. Every day there seemed to be a battle over ‘what’ would be watched on the living area TV. Dad consistently angled to get control of the remote and soon Family Feud was gone and Gunsmoke or Gilligan’s Island reruns would be playing.

Sometimes the residents – who seemed to like Family Feud – would complain and one of the staff would switch the TV back to the game show.

That sometimes would prompt Dad to get Mom up and we’d return to her small room to visit there.

After leaving that facility, Mom had a TV in her room at the new Adult Family Home and Dad always had control of the remote when he was there. I can’t say I’ve ever seen Family Feud on TV again.

But there is, of course, the internet. YouTube has, literally, hundreds of clips which provide endless hours to waste, er, research for this topic.

For a more exhaustive look at Family Feud, here are a few links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_Feud

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a46188/richard-dawson-kssing-family-feud/

March 30, 1964

What is the date Jeopardy Premiered?

If I mention the names Don Pardo and Art Fleming, what’s the first thing you think of?

For anyone born after about 1975, it’s unlikely those names mean a thing to you. But if I add in the name Alex Trebek , nearly 100 percent of people will immediately say “Jeopardy!”

Art Fleming, the original host

Long before Trebek became the host, the first two were the memorable announcer and host, respectively, of Jeopardy which premiered as a daytime TV program on March 30, 1964.

The 1960’s was the golden age of TV game shows. Jeopardy joined seven other such shows already on the air that year including Let’s Make A Deal and The Price Is Right. Only Let’s Make A Deal has run continuously on TV longer, edging out Jeopardy by 3 months.

The show got its start thanks to iconic TV producer Merv Griffin. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“In a 1963 Associated Press profile released shortly before the original Jeopardy! series premiered, Merv Griffin offered the following account of how he created the quiz show:

My wife Julann just came up with the idea one day when we were in a plane bringing us back to New York City from Duluth. I was mulling over game show ideas, when she noted that there had not been a successful ‘question and answer’ game on the air since the quiz show scandals. Why not do a switch, and give the answers to the contestant and let them come up with the question? She fired a couple of answers to me: ‘5,280’—and the question of course was ‘How many feet in a mile?’. Another was ’79 Wistful Vista’; that was Fibber and Mollie McGee’s address. I loved the idea, went straight to NBC with the idea, and they bought it without even looking at a pilot show.

Griffin’s first conception of the game used a board comprising ten categories with ten clues each, but after finding that this board could not easily be shown on camera, he reduced it to two rounds of thirty clues each, with five clues in each of six categories.] He originally intended requiring grammatically correct phrasing (e.g., only accepting ‘Who is …’ for a person), but after finding that grammatical correction slowed the game down, he decided to accept any correct response that was in question form. Griffin discarded his initial title of What’s the Question? when skeptical network executive Ed Vane rejected his original concept of the game, claiming, ‘It doesn’t have enough jeopardies.’

Announcer Don Pardo whose recognizable voice graced the airwaves for decades

The format of giving contestants the answers and requiring the questions had previously been used by the Gil Fates-hosted program CBS Television Quiz, which aired from July 1941 until May 1942.”

Of course the references in the above article highlight just how long ago Jeopardy got its start, especially the citation of Fibber McGee. But I digress.

I’m pretty sure I’ve watched Jeopardy pretty much since its beginnings. Now mind you, as a kid the only time I saw the program would have been during summer vacation or being home sick from school. Holding down the 11:30 a.m. spot on NBC made Jeopardy required TV for the ill child. Once lunch was over (soup and saltine crackers, no doubt) and the boring old news came on, it was time to sleep.

The other reason I know Jeopardy occupied my brain is that I still have the Fifth Edition Jeopardy Board Game which I’m pretty sure was either a birthday or Christmas present, likely around 1967.

Imagine a completely old school sort of game. The answer board cover is made from white indestructium.* There are white one inch square removable plastic tabs that cover the answers for each Jeopardy round. You know its old because the dollar amounts (printed in blue on the tabs) are $10, $20, $30, $40, and $50 for regular and double those numbers (in red) for the second round. Oh, and did I mention how they kept the answers ‘secret?’ By use of the always cool, see through red plastic used in kid’s decoder kits of the 1960’s.

My 1960 something game… the blue clicker is missing but everything else is there.

But the best part was by far the ‘buzzers’ used by the players when they knew the right question. In this case, however, ‘buzzer’ is a misnomer because the devices were frog style clickers in red, blue, yellow, and green. After a few games of vigorous use those clickers no longer clicked; our alternative was for the contestants to make a buzzing noise with their mouths which, you might imagine, led to some hilarity.

My friends and I loved the game. It’s actually in amazing shape considering the use it had. Or maybe I’m misremembering all the use and, perhaps, it was just me who was the complete trivia nerd. The game, after spending decades tucked away in my parents’ house, came back to me in the fall of 2019.

Over the years, however, Jeopardy continued to be a part of my life. In the 1980’s, after dinner, the hubby and I would often watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. The hubby seemed to know every Jeopardy answer and had it out before my brain had time to process. In fact, I often thought that the hubby should try out for Jeopardy.

His rapid trivia skills were passed down to the next generation as our daughter also loves Jeopardy and is really good at it. In fact, both her former roommate and fiancé (now her hubby) got to the point of not wanting to even watch Jeopardy with her because she seemed to know every answer and, like her father, was very fast.

After she moved in the spring of 2020 and no longer had cable TV, she mostly quit watching. Some of the joy of the show, no doubt, was lost with the passing of Alex Trebek. She did admit that a couple of the ‘tryout’ hosts were pretty good.

Alex Trebek

“I need my Jeopardy host to be pretty dry in their delivery,” she told me.

I think any Jeopardy fan hopes that a worthy replacement will be found for Trebek ; one who will assure that the 57 year tradition that is Jeopardy will continue for years and generations to come.

Now, for those who want to play, here’s the final Jeopardy answer for today’s Tuesday Newsday: 22. Be sure to post your answer in the comments section below!

* Indestructium is a word coined by the hubby to describe any linoleum or plastic manufactured in the 20th century which is basically impossible to damage or destroy.

The Infallible Wikipedia links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeopardy!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_longest-running_American_television_series