For the first time, Charles Van Doren has written about the game show scandal he found himself in the midst of a half-century ago when “Twenty-One” made him a star (and later the central character in Robert Redford’s movie, “Quiz Show,” which I have just added to my Movies You Might Not Know list).
My personal connection to that scandal: my father was a contestant on another quiz show, “Tic Tac Dough,” at about the same time. He won a little bit of money, went home, but because the shows were live, he never got to see himself, so that was that. Or so he thought, until he was subpoenaed by the New York District Attorney to explain what he knew about the producers supplying the contestants with answers. Dad was genuinely surprised to hear about this, since they hadn’t given him an iota of information, so he simply relied on his own knowledge on the show.
He joked about it to me later, wondering why they hadn’t chosen him to cheat, and how he could have been so naive as to be in the midst of a scandal without having any idea that some of his fellow contestants had been supplied the questions and answers ahead of time. On the other hand, it made his visit to the DA’s office fairly short, as they quickly determined that he wasn’t involved.