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Multiple Years / Queen For A Day
Total Television calls Queen For A Day, '...possibly the most maudlin game show ever broadcast'--and for good reason. Considered a forerunner of modern-day reality TV, QFAD was a successful radio program beginning in 1945 before airing on daytime television from 1956 through 1964. At the peak of the show's popularity in the late 1950s, NBC expanded it from 30 to 45 minutes to sell more commercials, at a then-premium rate of $4,000 per minute. QFAD opened with host Jack Bailey asking the largely female studio audience, 'Would YOU like to be queen for a day?' After this, the contestants were introduced and interviewed. Each contestant talked about recent financial and emotional hard times she had been through. The sob stories were rated on an applause meter. Bailey began each interview gently, asking the contestant first about her life and family, and maintaining a positive and upbeat response no matter what she told him. The interview climaxed with Bailey asking the contestant what she needed most and why she wanted to win the title of Queen for a Day. Often the request was for medical care or therapeutic equipment to help a chronically ill child, but sometimes it was as simple as the need for a hearing aid, a new washing machine, or a refrigerator. Many women broke down sobbing as they described their plights, and Bailey was always quick to comfort them and offer a clean white handkerchief to dry their eyes. The more pitiful the story a contestant had, the likelier the studio audience was to reach the applause meter's highest level. The winner, to the musical accompaniment of Pomp and Circumstance, would be draped in a sable-trimmed red velvet robe, given a glittering jeweled crown to wear, placed on a velvet-upholstered throne, and handed a dozen long-stemmed roses to hold as she wept, often uncontrollably, while her list of prizes was announced. The prizes began with the necessary help the woman had requested, but might include a vacation, a night on the town with her husband or escort, silver-plated flatware, an array of kitchen appliances, and a selection of fashion clothing. The losing contestants were each given smaller prizes; no one went away from the show without a meaningful gift. Bailey's trademark sign-off was 'This is Jack Bailey, wishing we could make every woman a queen--for every single day!' A 1970 short-lived syndicated revival of QFAD quickly fell into disfavor with viewers when it was revealed the 'contestants' were actually actresses.