The National Archives of Game Show History
The National Archives of Game Show History at The Strong preserves the history of game shows—from the earliest panel shows and quiz scandals, to the games and puzzles of the 1970s, to the big money network series and the classic games now in primetime.
From the 1960s through the 1990s, Michael Brockman had tenures as head of daytime programming for ABC, NBC, and CBS, and oversaw many all-time favorite game shows in that role. Among other contributions, he put “Family Feud” on the air and rescued “The $10,000 Pyramid” from cancellation.
Dana Calderwood is one of the most prolific game show directors in cable TV history. He called the shots for MTV’s “Remote Control,” Nickelodeon’s “Double Dare,” Food Network’s “Pressure Cooker,” The History Channel’s “History I.Q.,” and Game Show Network’s “Idiotest.” He also helped bring Iron Chef from Japan to the U.S.
Originally a disc jockey and a concert promoter who brought The Beatles to Hollywood, long-time master of ceremonies Bob Eubanks was at the helm of “Card Sharks,” “Dream House,” “Trivia Trap,” and more, but you remember him best for making “Whoopee” a household word during his 16 years on “The Newlywed Game.”
In his final interview, Emmy-winning director Mike Gargiulo recounted a legendary career that spanned the era of live and “live-to-tape” shows. His credits included some of the most popular game shows in television history, including “The Price is Right,” “What’s My Line?,” “Password,” “The $10,000 Pyramid,” and “The Match Game.”
Ron Greenberg began his career as a page at NBC’s famous studio complex in Rockefeller Plaza, later producing games like “Camouflage” and “Word for Word.” Independently, he created “The Who What or Where Game,” “The Big Showdown,” and “The Money Maze.” Later, he became executive producer of classics like “The Joker’s Wild” and “Tic Tac Dough.”
An innovative composer, Edd Kalehoff pioneered the use of the Moog synthesizer in game show music and altered the sound of the genre forever. Kalehoff’s instantly recognizable works have included the soundtracks of “Password,” “Concentration,” “Card Sharks,” “Double Dare,” “Finders Keepers,” and 50 years of “The Price is Right.”
Peter Marshall is an accomplished Broadway leading man, comic, singer, and actor whose career has spanned more than 70 years on stage, screen, and television. To television viewers, he’s best known as a game show host. For nearly 15 years, he was “the Master of The Hollywood Squares,” a role for which he would earn four Emmy Awards. He also hosted “All-Star Blitz”, “Yahtzee”, and “The Reel-to-Reel Picture Show”. His memoir, “Backstage with the Original Hollywood Square”, is now available from BearManor Media.
His very name is synonymous with “game show host.” Wink Martindale was a Memphis disc jockey who came to Hollywood and became one of America’s best-known hosts, with shows spanning five decades. His games include classics like “Gambit”, “Tic Tac Dough”, and “Trivial Pursuit”. He also became a prolific producer, creating “Bumper Stumpers”, “Boggle”, “Jumble”, and “Shuffle”. Making a vow that he would never retire, Wink’s voice can still be heard on his syndicated weekly radio show, “The History of Rock & Roll”.
Starting his career on “Truth or Consequences” and “The Joker’s Wild,” Terrence McDonnell is possibly the most prolific question writer in game shows, with a 50-year-long career that had stops at “Jeopardy!,” “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?,” “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” and “The Chase,” continuing today at “Master Minds.”
The head of Television City Electronics, Bill Monk, has spent more than four decades designing and maintaining electronic components, like the Apple II-powered “Tic Tac Dough,” the puzzle board for “Wheel of Fortune,” dozens of games for “The Price is Right,” and the famous game board on “Press Your Luck.”
Bev Pomerantz has helped thousands of skilled players start their journey to winning millions of dollars in cash and prizes. As a game show contestant casting Director, her job has been to seek out players with winning personalities and a knack for the games. Her credits have included “Family Feud”, “The Dating Game”, “Classic Concentration”, “Let’s Make a Deal”, and “Supermarket Sweep”.
A second-generation game show producer, Robert Sherman joined Goodson-Todman in the 1970s and helped write and produce a slate of hits for the company, including “Match Game,” “Tattletales,” “Now You See It,” “The Price is Right,” “Password Plus,” “Body Language,” and “Super Password.” He has since worked independently as a consultant for other production houses.
Pamela Usdan started her career in Australia with Reg Grundy Productions, before heading to New York to start a career in American television. Originally joining Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions for a staff job at “What’s My Line?,” Usdan remained with the company to supervise the international adaptations of Goodson-Todman games.
These oral histories have been produced to tell the story of game shows and to serve as primary source material for future generations. The conversations present the personal viewpoints of individuals who have worked in the world of game shows. The stories and perspectives interviewees offer are their own opinions and recollections, and the National Archives of Game Show History is honored to have the opportunity to record, preserve, and share them.
Co-founded by veteran television producers Howard Blumenthal (Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?) and Bob Boden (Funny You Should Ask), The National Archives of Game Show History focuses on acquiring the records and materials of the many professional producers, performers, directors, designers, writers, and staff members who have been involved in all facets of game show development, production, marketing, and distribution. The materials they provide—scripts, set designs, props, technical plans, marketing materials, creative plans, production plans, and more—form the heart of the archives. Read the Variety magazine article.
From the Blog:
National Archives of Game Show History
A Donkey Kong Game Show? Starcade Provided Video Gaming Star Power
By Adam Nedeff, researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History The Strong’s latest expansion—opening June 30, 2023—includes the world’s largest, playable Donkey Kong arcade game. Using a motherboard from an original Donkey Kong cabinet, this monolithic version stands nearly 20 feet tall. In honor of this new addition to The Strong, the National Archives of Game Show History is flashing back 40 years to a short-lived but much-loved game show that starred Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, the Mario Brothers, and […]
The Game Show…Show
By Adam Nedeff, researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History Here at the National Archives of Game Show history, we like to explore the history and culture of game shows. Happily, we are not alone. Beginning on May 10, 2023, ABC will devote four Wednesday evenings to exploring and celebrating the genre with “The Game Show Show,” a documentary miniseries. (Two of the people involved with the National Archives of Game Show History will be featured on the show!) Opening […]
From Backstage to the Spotlight
By Adam Nedeff, researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History This year, Game Show Network is treating fans to a blast from the past—the channel is launching a revival of Split Second, a tough Q&A game that enjoyed a three-year run on ABC with host Tom Kennedy in the 1970s. Split Second returned in the 1980s with executive producer Monty Hall pulling double duty as host. While it ran for only one season in first-run broadcasts, Hall’s version […]
President Lincoln’s TV Game Show Moment
By Adam Nedeff, researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History For the month of February, the National Archives of Game Show History commemorates Presidents’ Day with a look back at one of the most extraordinary segments on an American game show. On February 9, 1956, Garry Moore dashed into the wings of the I’ve Got a Secret stage and walked out with frail, bandaged, cane-toting, 96-year-old Samuel Seymour. Seymour got three rounds of applause before the game even started. One […]
Betty White Made Game Show History
By Adam Nedeff, researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History We are deeply grateful to the estate of Betty White and Allen Ludden for their donations to the National Archives of Game Show History. “Hollywood’s Happiest Couple” left behind a personal treasure trove of relics from their long and memorable association with TV game shows. Among them—a history-making Emmy Award given to Betty White for her work on Just Men!—now loaned from the estate for display at The […]
The Price Is Definitely Right
One of the highlights for me in the summer of 2022 involved traveling to Los Angeles on behalf of the National Archives of Game Show History, The Strong’s initiative to preserve the story of that significant piece of American popular culture. Through the incredible connections of Bob Boden, one of the co-founders of the archives, while I was in L.A. I had the opportunity to attend the filming of an episode of The Price Is Right. While I didn’t get […]
Concentrating on Santa—and CARE
By Adam Nedeff, Researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History Different shows treat Christmas differently. Some game shows have been content to just do their normal game, but with tinsel and a tree adorning the set. Some shows take it a little further, playing the game with special material—What’s My Line? might welcome a reindeer breeder, Wheel of Fortune might have the lyrics to a Christmas carol as the solution to a puzzle. But few game shows turned Christmas into […]
Biggest “Turkey” in Game Show History
By Adam Nedeff, Researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History You bring the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, and the pumpkin pie. For Thanksgiving, we’ll bring you the biggest turkey in the history of game shows: You’re in the Picture By 1961, Jackie Gleason was already a bona fide show business legend. His Cavalcade of Stars had made him one of the first superstars in the young medium of television. The classic 39-episode season of The Honeymooners had been icing on […]
Johnny Carson: From Game Show Regular to Late-Night Icon
By Adam Nedeff, Researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History October 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. For the next 30 years after its debut in 1962, Carson became a nightly habit for millions of Americans, who were treated to his monologue as a record of the day’s events, sketch comedy featuring “The Mighty Carson Art Players,” Johnny’s lively chit-chat with announcer/sidekick Ed McMahon, the musical interludes of Doc Severinsen and his […]
50 Years Ago: CBS Brought Play to Mornings
By Adam Nedeff, Researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History In 1972, longtime NBC executive Bud Grant jumped to CBS for a position as vice president of daytime programming. In his new role, Grant inherited a stagnant morning schedule of reruns from prime time. He thought game shows could spruce up a wilting lineup and bring an element of fun. Grant tried one game show in the summer of 1972 as a signal flare of sorts—an odd game called […]
Do You Remember These Memory Games?
By Adam Nedeff, Researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History It was a bona fide institution for over a decade on NBC, a phoenix of a game that rose from the ashes twice, becoming a favorite for game show fans across three generations. It was Concentration, and it came to life on America’s TV screens on August 25, 1958. Jack Barry was toying with an idea based on a childhood card game; you’d spread the deck out and turn over […]
Showing Their Playful Side: Unlikely Game Show Hosts
By Adam Nedeff, Researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History On July 27, 2022, Norman Lear will celebrate his 100th birthday. Among his numerous contributions to television: creating, developing, and producing more than 100 series, including All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, and The Jeffersons; serving as a consultant for several episodes of South Park; and hosting a game show. Wait, hold on, that can’t be right, can it?…Yes, Norman Lear was a game show host. In 1981, […]
Game Show History: Who Has a Secret?
By Adam Nedeff, Researcher for The Strong’s National Archives of Game Show History On June 19, 1952, game show moguls Mark Goodson & Bill Todman introduced a new panel game, I’ve Got a Secret, intended to be a summer replacement for a mystery drama, Casey, Crime Photographer. The utterly basic premise: A contestant whispered a secret about themselves to the host. The panel had to ask yes/no questions to figure out the secret. And with such a simple formula, I’ve Got […]
Play on with Music Game Shows
By Adam Nedeff, Researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History Stay up to date with the world of game shows and The Strong’s National Archives of Game Show History with this recurring blog. This month, learn about May’s lineup of music game shows and the history of this playful subgenre. In the month of May, Fox is hoping game show fans will tune in for tunes. Starting May 23, the network’s Monday prime time schedule will be wall-to-wall musical […]
Game Show Updates: The Chase is Back On!
By Adam Nedeff, Researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History Stay up to date with the world of game shows and The Strong’s National Archives of Game Show History with this recurring blog. This month, learn about the return of ABC’s The Chase and the history of “beat the expert” games. (Bob Boden, one of the Archive’s cofounders, produced the original U.S. version of The Chase in 2014.) The Chase is returning to ABC for a third season. Twenty episodes […]
Hear behind-the-scenes stories from game show contestants in Tell Us About Yourself: Conversations with Game Show Contestants, a new BuzzerBlog podcast by Christian Carrion, in conjunction with the National Archives of Game Show History.
How to Donate
If you are interested in adding to The National Archives of Game Show History:
- Make a list of the potential donations and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Call 585-410-6340 if you have questions.)
- The Strong museum’s curators, librarians, and archivists will consider your offer.
- The appropriate staff member will contact you regarding your offer and, if it’s right for the archives, work with you to determine the best way for it to physically reach the museum.
- When the item(s) arrives at the museum, the donation is processed (steps that may include cataloging, conservation attention, and photography).
- The donation is presented to the museum’s Acquisitions Team for final approval.
- The collections manager sends the donor a Deed of Gift via email or U.S. Mail as preferred.
- The donor completes and signs the Deed of Gift, keeps a copy, and returns a copy to The Strong.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kinds of materials are you looking to collect?
Program development documents; program proposals; pilot and production scripts (some with notes from production personnel); materials related to hosts and players; scenic plans, renderings, construction drawings; materials related to music and sound effects; show rundowns; shell scripts; director’s notes; network notes; edit notes; publicity materials; and associated physical materials which may include costume designs, props, graphics, and more. These materials may be originals, copies, scans, facsimiles, depending upon what is reasonably available. All such materials shall be provided on an as-is basis.
What about intellectual property rights?
The museum is aware that donors of papers, documents and other materials may not hold copyright or intellectual property rights to the content. The Strong provides those donors with clear and specific ways to designate the appropriate limitations involved with intellectual property.
How does the museum decide whether to accept a donation?
The museum considers each potential acquisition carefully. The appropriate curator, librarian, or archivist evaluates each item or collection to make sure it supports the goals of The National Archives of Game Show History and does not duplicate items already in the museum’s holdings. When items or groups of items fit those criteria, the staff member responsible for the initial review presents a written justification for acquisition to The Strong’s Acquisitions Team. If that group agrees at its monthly meeting, a Deed of Gift form is prepared for the donor.
What is a Deed of Gift?
Once The Strong museum’s Acquisitions Team has officially accepted an item or a collection, the donor receives a Deed of Gift via email or U.S. Mail. A Deed of Gift is a formal document that transfers legal ownership of the donated item(s) to The Strong. Provisions within the document allow donors to choose how they want their donation acknowledged, to define or assign intellectual property rights, and to specify preferences for research access.
What are the financial implications of a donation?
The Internal Revenue Service has determined that The Strong qualifies as a 501(c)(3) organization. In keeping with professional standards and accreditation requirements of the American Alliance of Museums, The Strong does not appraise items offered for donation. Donors are encouraged to seek the advice of counsel before claiming deductions for the purpose of computing income and heritance taxes under state and federal laws.
Must donated materials be in mint condition?
Items or collections offered to the museum should be complete (not missing significant parts) and in stable condition, but they do not have to be mint-in-box or look the way they did when new. It is not necessary to clean objects prior to offering them to The Strong. Curatorial and conservation staff members examine each artifact to assure that its condition will allow it to be preserved for future exhibition, research, and educational needs.
Should I organize my collection before offering it to The Strong?
It’s not necessary to organize a collection prior to offering it to The Strong. Staff from the museum’s Collections Team will organize the materials after they arrive.
Should I clean or repair my objects before offering them to The Strong?
It’s not necessary to do cleaning or repair work prior to offering it to The Strong. Conservation staff will evaluate what steps are necessary once items are accepted by the museum.
Will my donations be displayed?
In its early years, The National Archives of Game Show History will operate as a research facility, not as a display for general guests at The Strong museum. In the future, we may develop a public exhibit. However, donations are shared with a worldwide audience by way of the museum’s online collections, its library catalog, and its archives catalog. These databases serve as entry points for researchers, scholars, students, the media, and the public to locate pertinent material for their interests or projects.
Can I get to my materials again after I donate them?
Yes, you are welcome to make an appointment in advance with the museum’s staff so that they can provide you access to items not on display.
To learn more about The National Archives of Game Show History, explore the history of games shows, and read full biographies of co-founders Howard Blumenthal and Bob Boden, please see the press kit.
For press inquiries, contact:
Senior Director of Public Relations
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