By Adam Nedeff, researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History
In October 2021, the National Archives of Game Show History began recording interviews for our Oral Histories series. Chatting with important figures from game shows past and picking their brains about their experiences, we have attempted to tell the rich story of game shows through the thoughts and memories of these very talented people.
In the month of September, we are honored to present one of our most extraordinary oral histories. We were granted an exclusive opportunity to interview Patte Barry and Don Enright, two people with unique perspectives of the impact that game shows in U.S. history. Patte Barry was the wife of Jack Barry; Don Enright was the son of Dan Enright. Barry & Enright Productions was one of the most successful television production companies of the 1950s. Their hit game shows included Tic Tac Dough, Concentration, and Twenty One.
Contributing to the success were some questionable practices. Many producers controlled the outcomes of the programs, feeding contestants right and wrong answers to maximize drama and to ensure that “the right contestant” won the games. In 1958, the infamous Quiz Show Scandal broke. Though many people involved in the scandal resumed their careers, Jack Barry and Dan Enright were made examples of.
Both men were exiled from American television for a time; Dan Enright moved to Canada to produce shows, and Jack Barry worked in local television at stations in California and Florida. In 1972, Jack Barry received his second chance. CBS agreed to buy The Joker’s Wild, a quiz show with a slot machine, created and hosted by Jack Barry. In 1975, Dan Enright joined his old partner and the producers relaunched Barry & Enright Productions.
The Joker’s Wild ran for more than a decade on CBS and in syndication. Barry & Enright revived Tic Tac Dough, which became another long-running favorite. And they mounted new shows, like Break the Bank, Bullseye, and Hot Potato. Jack Barry died in 1984; his plan to launch a 24-hour cable channel filled with Barry & Enright Productions never came to fruition. Dan Enright kept the company alive until his own passing in 1992. Soon after, Barry & Enright Productions was sold to Sony, which used the company’s large video library to help launch Game Show Network in 1994.
In 1994, Robert Redford’s film Quiz Show examined the 1950s scandals, focusing primarily on what happened behind the scenes at Twenty One. The film presented a somewhat shallow portrait of the producers and the people who worked at the company. The National Archives of Game Show History was pleased to interview Patte Barry, who worked at the company and subsequently married Jack, and Don Enright, who watched his father in action as a child and teenager. We learn and now share their stories to present a more complete portrait of Jack Barry and Dan Enright, two men who were much more than the scandal that they endured.
DO YOU REMEMBER…THESE OTHER BARRY & ENRIGHT GAME SHOWS?
Dough Re Mi (NBC, 1958-60) – Gene Rayburn hosted this musical guessing game. Contestants heard the first three notes of a song. A series of auctions was held for the right to hear the next notes in the song, until one contestant finally identified it.
Hollywood Connection (Syndication, 1977-78) – Jim Lange welcomed six celebrity guests and two contestants, who tried to predict how each celebrity answered a question of opinion.
Play the Percentages (Syndication, 1980) – Geoff Edwards asked married couples a series of trivia questions that were asked to a survey group, and the couples tried to predict what percentage of people answered the question correctly. The couple that came the closest earned extra points by giving the correct answer themselves.