Saturday, March 14, 2015
I recently found a few fun photos from sometime in the 1950's, taken during someone's visit to a New York City taping (filming?) of the once-popular game show, "Strke it Rich!". Originally it was a radio program (starting in 1947), but moved to television in 1951.
I love this first shot, a "POV", as ordinary folks (tourists?) wait to get in. They are standing on what I believe is West 47th Street. AND… I just noticed the partial sign: "….NCASTER….KIAN". Burt Lancaster starred in "The Kentuckian" in 1955, so that helps date these photos.
Here we are, inside the studio, watching as everything is set up for the cameras. The man in front of the stairs appears to be host Warren Hull (see photo at the bottom of this post). "Strike It Rich!" was similar to "Queen For a Day", in which contestants tried to outdo each other with tales of their miserable lives. Whoever was deemed the most miserable won cash and prizes. PRIZES, do you hear??
Viewers could even call the "Heart Line" and donate money. Many critics found the show ghoulish and vulgar because it took advantage of those who were most desperate; The New York City commissioner of welfare called the show "a disgusting spectacle and a national disgrace". And yet the program was a hit for years!
Here's a second photo. There's the Black Curtain. No! Not THE BLACK CURTAIN! I wonder if this was a setup for a live commercial for Colgate (the show's sponsor)? "Gee, Warren, Colgate leaves my teeth sparkling white, and I love its minty taste!". FYI, nothing classes up a joint like a fake palm tree. I love the big television camera to the left!
"Strike it Rich" continued through 1958; according to Wikipedia, recordings of the show were destroyed "partly owing to its controversial nature". A few episodes still survive at various television archives such as UCLA and the Payley Center for Media.
I hope you have enjoyed this episode of "Strike it Rich"!