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Quiz Show Scandal One of the most disillusioning moments in American TV history was the revelation that some of the big-money quiz shows of the 1950s were rigged. The most famous incident occurred on Twenty-One when longtime champion Herbert Stempel was dethroned by Charles Van Doren. Stempel was groomed by producer Dan Enright to look and behave like a know-it-all nerd--which had its desired effect. The public rooted for the handsome and sophisticated challenger, Charles Van Doren, to defeat him. Both players were coached on the questions they would receive. After a series of tie games, Stempel deliberately missed a relatively easy question that would have given him the win. The game ended in another tie and Van Doren won the next game. For 'taking a dive,' Stempel had been promised his own panel show by Enright. When Enright reneged, Stempel told the press that Twenty-One was rigged. At first his claims were thought to be those of a sore loser, but when contestants on another game show, Dotto, came forward with solid evidence of fixes, Stempel's accusations had to be investigated. The 1994 movie Quiz Show was based on this scandal.
Tags: Quiz  Show  Stempel  Van  Doren  Enright 
Added: 20th November 2007
Views: 2615
Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Naomi on 2007-11-20 
I can just barely remember this as it unfolded.
Posted by: eric1957 on 2007-11-20 
The game show scandals was the subject on PBS's American Experience. For the life of me I always thought Charles Van Doren was related to Mamie Van Doren.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2007-11-20 
Here's what I've read about Twenty-One: The show was originally on the level, but the questions were so difficult that the players were getting more wrong answers than right ones. The main sponsor, Geritol, was displeased, so the fixes were arranged.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2009-11-11 
Both Stempel and Van Doren are still alive. I'd be interested in seeing a rematch--provided it was on the level, of course.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2019-08-10 
I happened to discover by accident that Charles Van Doren passed away in April 2019 at the age of 93.
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