BATTLE OF THE SEXES (SEE QUIZ DIGEST)
CAN YOU TOP THIS?
(Garden City 1945) Can You Top This?
(Grosset & Dunlap 1947) Cream of the Crop
Two hardback collections of jokes on a variety of topics, told by series regulars Harry Hershfield, Joe Laurie, Jr. and "Senator" Ed Ford. (On the series, listeners sent in jokes, and the panel had to get equal or better laughs from the studio audience with their own jokes on the same topic.)
(Tempo 1971) Can You Top This? [Drawing of Wink Martindale on the cover]
A paperback collection of gags from the syndicated television remake. Credited to viewers and "The Panelists" which included Morey Amsterdam, Jack Carter and Richard Dawson
This long-running series featured a panel of erudite celebrities fielding tough and tricky questions submitted by listeners. This is one of the few game shows in the history of old-time radio for which significant numbers of episodes have survived. (You Bet Your Life and It Pays To Be Ignorant are two other notable surviving games.) More than 500 radio episodes were produced, and about half of them are easily available today on the OTR market, often for pennies a show.
(Canada Dry* 1939)
A twelve-page booklet called A Party Book For Adults which included questions geared to special events (birthday parties, costume parties, etc.) as well as the inevitable sponsor plugs. May have been a point-of-purchase giveaway. Includes an offer for the next item:
(Canada Dry* 1939)
Booklet contained enough questions for four complete programs. Available for two labels or bottle caps from any Canada Dry beverage plus ten cents to cover postage.
(Simon & Schuster 1939)
A hardback collection of thirty-five "sessions" of ten questions each, with challenging multi-part questions similar to those heard on the show. Introductions by host Clifton Fadiman and creator/producer Dan Golenpaul.
The Information Please Almanac, published annually since 1947, is a product of this long-running radio show. The original editor was regular panelist John Kieran, replaced later by Golenpaul. Today, the annuals (as well as additional volumes dedicated to specific topics such as entertainment and sports) are often published under the name of a more well-known media entity, such as cable's A&E or Time Magazine. There's even an Information Please web site!
(BearManor Media 2003) by Martin Grams, Jr.
A marvelously, obsessively detailed modern history of the quiz program, with chapters on various stages of the show's development, tales of behind the scenes turmoil (Golenpaul was a bit of a crank), a complete guide to episodes on radio, TV and film, and even copies of sponsor and cast contracts.
MARCH OF GAMES (ALSO
SEE QUIZ DIGEST)
(Greenberg 1938) The March of Games Quiz and Fun Book by Natalie Purvin Prager
March of Games was a twice-weekly children's game show in which young studio contestants tackled questions, puzzles and tongue-twisters submitted by listeners. There may have been a series of these books.
MEET THE MISSUS
(Fitzpatrick Bros. 1937)
A series of games exist based on this early audience-participation program. The first is a rummy-like game based on getting "tricks" of matching question and answer cards. Another one, called Meet the Missus at the Broadcast (1940) is a parchesi game with quiz questions thrown in. We think there is a third called Missus Goes A' Shopping, and there may be others. Gameboards are printed on heavy paper and measure a big 18" square when unfolded. Game instructions printed on the back of the mailing envelope. The Fitzpatrick Brothers (out of Chicago) were the program sponsor. Their products included "Kitchen Klenzer Automatic Soap Flakes" and "Big Jack Laundry Soap"
PAUL WING'S SPELLING BEE
(ALSO SEE QUIZ DIGEST)
(Milton Bradley 1938) [Paul Wing on cover]
This early effort predates what are generally considered to be the first game shows. Players drew chips from a bag to determine which word on the host's card they had to spell correctly. Paul Wing was an author and NBC staff director. His show was originally heard only in the cities competing in each weekly broadcast, but the program did eventually (and briefly) gain full network status. Cutting costs even in the 1930s, Milton Bradley's materials for this game were identical to the ones used in Vox Pop.
POT O' GOLD
In addition to the box game below, we're beginning to discover a wide array of promotional items associated with this early giveaway show, including play money, a mechanical pencil, and a specially designed tin container for Tums, the program's sponsor. We'll also have a picture of the game up soon!
(Toy Creations 1940)
The radio show was a wildly popular program with a simple gimmick. All they did was place a call to someone at home. If that person was home (even if she wasn't listening), she won a $1000 prize. We have no idea how the home game worked (it's one we don't have).
PRESS TIME (SEE QUIZ DIGEST)
(Kelvinator* 1937) The Original Professor Quiz and his Quizzical Questions
(Noxzema* 1939) The Original Professor Quiz Brain Teasers
[Craig Earl on cover of both booklets]
Each small booklet contained hundreds of questions, as well as information about the show and prominent plugs for the sponsor's products. With a copyright date of 1937, the Kelvinator booklet is among the earliest game show collectables. The 48-page Noxzema booklet was distributed free with any purchase of a fifty cent jar of Noxzema, and included a promotion for the Jaymar box game below.
(Mind Building Institute 1939) The Original Professor Quiz Radio Game
[Craig Earl on cover]
A large booklet featuring 600 questions and answers as well as articles with background on the show and its key figures (Earl, announcer Bob Trout, even Earl's wife "Mrs. Quiz"). The booklet and a spinner called the "Duo-Dial Selector" were mailed to listeners as part of a promotion, but do not appear to be tied to an advertiser. The pretentious sounding "Institute" appears to be entirely the good Professor's invention.
(Jaymar 1939) Quizzical Questions by Professor Quiz
[Drawing of Craig Earl on inside playfield]
The drab green outside box hid a beautiful gameboard inside, featuring a large wheel which would turn to reveal new questions and answers. At least two editions were produced.
Capitalizing on the popularity of radio quiz programs, QUIZ DIGEST was a bi-monthly collection of quizzes published by Dell, a company better known for the crossword and puzzle magazines which they continue to produce today. Each issue contained about thirty quizzes, several contributed by famous names (including Bing Crosby, Boris Karloff and Sammy Kaye) and several provided by the writers and producers of various radio quiz programs.
Among the radio programs represented in QUIZ DIGEST were Ask-It Basket, Battle of the Sexes, March of Games, Paul Wing's Spelling Bee, Press Time, Uncle Jim's Question Bee and What's My Name?. Some local quiz programs were also featured. Dell published at least seven issues of the magazine, beginning in August, 1938 and continuing through at least August, 1939.
The popularity of the Quiz Kids inspired a wealth of collectables aimed at children and their parents.
The ones listed below are some of the most interesting, but a future update may include more.
(Parker Brothers 1940) Quiz Kids Own Game Box
An activity box filled with quizzes and other brain-building exercises. Two different covers exist, but we think it's the same game rereleased.
(Rapaport Bros. c1940) Quiz Kids Electric Quizzer
A battery-operated matching game in which sheets of various categories were placed over the metallic game board surface, and correct matches were rewarded with a buzzing sound.
(Whitman c1940) Quiz Kids Radio Question Bee Three editions
Each edition was a set of 72 questions and answers on cards the size of playing cards.
(Saalfield 1941) The Quiz Kids Red Book
(Saalfield 1941) The Quiz Kids Blue Book
Each hardback book featured questions and answers taken from the show. Later, both were released as a single volume.
(Saalfield 1941) Quiz Kids Box of Questions and Answers
Four slim paperback books with generally easier questions than the above quiz books, packed together in a cardboard box. The books are This Big World, The Americas, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and Quiz Kids Questions and Answers. Each book had a hundred questions, grouped in sets of ten.
(Whitman 1946) Quiz Kids and the Crazy Question Mystery by Carl W. Smith
A work of fiction in which some of the youngsters get involved in a mystery set in a haunted castle.
(Houghton Miffin 1947) The Quiz Kids by Eliza Merrill Hickok
A behind-the-scenes look at the show, its host Joe Kelly and of course its young stars, written by the show's assistant program director.
(Chicago Review 1982) Whatever Happened to The Quiz Kids by Ruth Duskin Feldman
Part nostalgia and part sociology, this look back by an original Quiz Kid examines the pressures of growing up as a gifted child and the experiences of several of the famous children in their adult lives.
(Saalfield 1942) Quiz Kids Paper Dolls
Includes eight dolls and six pages of clothes.
(Saalfield c1942) Quiz Kids Follow the Dots and Find the Answers
Simple book for very young children.
Anyone who sent a question to the producers of Quiz Kids received a postcard acknowledging the contribution. Over the years, a variety of postcard designs were used, featuring host Joe Kelly and several different combinations of kids. We know of nine different card designs, there may be more.
(Madame Alexander 1953) Quiz-Kin
Madame Alexander collectors are familar with the line of -Kin dolls, smaller than the usual dolls, that were released in the fifties. The 7-inch-tall Quiz-Kin doll was a young lady who could nod "yes" or shake her head "no" when you pushed buttons on her back. Because of the collectability of Madame Alexander dolls, this is probably the single most valuable game show collectable on the market, with mint versions sold for several hundred dollars at auction.
TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT
(Zondine 1942) At least five different editions.
Categories appear on concentric circles of a game board, and a large spinner determined your question. This game was also known as The $64 Question, a fact prominently displayed on the game box. This, of course, was the forerunner of the high-stakes television version. (It's also, therefore, a distant relative to the modern double-or-nothing show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire!)
(Grosset & Dunlap 1954) The Tello-Test Game Book
"Tello-Test" was a quiz format licensed to radio stations across the country in the 1950s. The central office in Chicago prepared the materials, and each local market used its own on-air personalities to place phone calls and ask the questions. In the introduction, creator Walter Schwimmer claims his format (introduced in 1937) is the oldest radio quiz show in America, but since it was never a national program that's a difficult case to make. The book includes quizzes in thirty categories, plus anecdotes collected from local stations about unusual Tello-Test moments.
TRUE OR FALSE
(J.B. Williams* 1939) I.Q.: Dr. Hagen's New True or False Game
Each booklet contained more than five hundred true/false questions rated according to difficulty, as well as ads for the sponsor's products (including Aqua Velva After Shave). The game also included a small spinner and a game board which traced your progress from "greenhorn" to "genius" (or, if you fared poorly, to "idiot"). There were at least three different booklets of questions produced.
UNCLE JIM'S QUESTION BEE (ALSO SEE QUIZ DIGEST)
(Lowell 1938) At least six editions. [Jim McWilliams on the cover*]
Each box game consisted of separate decks of questions in a variety of categories. This and Professor Quiz are considered the first two network game shows. In fact, "Uncle Jim" McWilliams was the original Professor Quiz on local radio, replaced by Craig Earl very early in the network run. Each edition is identified by letter. "Series F" came out in late 1941.
(Whitman 1939) At least four books [Jim McWilliams on the cover*]
A series of thin 7x8 quiz books, each containing 250 regular questions and twenty unusual "cuckoo" questions. The four books we know about are Red, Blue, Yellow and Green. There might be more, but we doubt it.
*Creating some confusion, the fellow pictured on the cover of the books sure doesn't look the same as the one pictured on the game box. We have no idea which one is Jim McWilliams, nor who the other guy actually is.
(Milton Bradley 1938) Two Editions.
This was originally a man-on-the-street interview program with questions, not a traditional quiz show. In the box game, players pulled chips from a bag to see which questions on a host's card they had to answer. Two versions were released. The original cover shows a yellow lightning bolt on a blue field. The second (called The New Vox Pop, but only on the question cards inside) features a New York skyline and hosts Parks Johnson and Wally Butterworth on the cover.
MY NAME? (ALSO SEE QUIZ DIGEST)
Contestants tried to identify famous people through clues provided by the hosts. The home game held nearly a hundred identities to figure out. The show began in 1938 and was heard throughout the forties. Arlene Francis (later the What's My Line? panelist) was one of the hosts, a rare female emcee.