The Buzzerblog Almanac

The Buzzerblog Almanac

BuzzerBlog is creating an ever-updating almanac of important dates in game show history. Follow along and see what interesting parts of game show history happened today! This calendar is set to show events and anniversaries in game show history in the next 90 days. Come back often to see new and interesting game show facts!

Monday October 2

Nipsey Russell (died, 2005)

Saturday October 7

Tom Kennedy (died, 2020)

Monday October 9

John O'Hurley (born, 1954)

Thursday October 12

Johnny Olson (died, 1985)

Saturday October 14

David Ruprecht (born, 1948)

Sunday October 15

Art James (born, 1929)
Jack Narz (died, 2008)

Friday October 20

Gene Wood (born, 1925)

Thursday October 26

Pat Sajak (born, 1946)

Friday October 27

Rod Roddy (died, 2003)

Wednesday November 1

Charlie O'Donnell (died, 2010)

Saturday November 4

Greed premieres on Fox (1999)

The big-money quiz show, created in the wake of Who Wants to be a Millionaire’s immense success, was created by Dick Clark and Bob Boden, and hosted by Chuck Woolery. It lasted for one season.

Wednesday November 8

Alex Trebek (died, 2020)

Thursday November 9

Jim Perry (born, 1933)

Saturday November 11

Marc Summers (born, 1951)

Monday November 13

Jack Narz (born, 1922)
Jimmy Kimmel (born, 1967)

Sunday November 19

Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? John Carpenter, that's who (1999)

John Carpenter, an IRS agent from Northampton, MA, became the first contestant to win the top prize on the hit game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. He may have been best known for using a single lifeline, Phone a Friend, on the million dollar question, to inform his father that he was going to win the top prize.

Monday November 20

Jim Perry (died, 2015)
Richard Dawson (born, 1932)

Tuesday November 28

Garry Moore (died, 1993)

Wednesday November 29

Gene Rayburn (died, 1999)

Thursday November 30

Dick Clark (born, 1929)
Nancy Zerg defeats Ken Jennings to end his 75-game Jeopardy! streak (2004)

Ken Jennings, a software engineer from Salt Lake City, Utah, had been on the greatest champion streak in US game show history: 75 appearances on America’s Favorite Quiz Show, 74 wins. Seemingly unstoppable, and burning up the record books, his 75th game started with $2,520,700 in Ken’s pocket, and two challengers against him: college student David Hankins and realtor Nancy Zerg. David languished in the negatives for most of the day, unable to quality for Final Jeopardy!, while Ken was only $4,400 ahead of Nancy’s $10,000 score. The Final Jeopardy! clue in the category of Business and Industry was: Most of this firm’s 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only 4 months a year. Ken’s incorrect response of FedEx coupled with Nancy’s correct response of H&R Block cemented both Ken and Nancy’s places in game show history. Nancy would lose her very next game. 

Monday December 4

Wink Martindale (born, 1933)

Tuesday December 5

Charles Van Doren defeats Herb Stempel on Twenty-One (1956)

Herb Stempel, a postal clerk from New York City, was no stranger to trivia. His sponge-like memory led him as an elementary school student to appear on the radio quiz Americana History, where he was undefeated as trivia champion for weeks. In 1956, the big-money quiz show Twenty-One premiered. The audition process was grueling, with a quiz of over 300 questions given to Stempel. Little did he realize that the game behind-the-scenes was fishy. Producer Dan Enright made it a practice to give the questions and answers to contestants and coached them on how to behave on stage and dressed them up to elicit the biggest emotional reaction from the audience. On the show, Stempel amassed $69,500 (accounting for inflation, that’s over $750,000 in 2022) but behind the scenes, Enright, claiming a ratings slump, strong-armed Stempel into taking just $25,000 ($275,000 in 2022) to take a dive against the next pre-determined champion: Columbia University professor Charles Van Doren. 15 million people watched the high-stakes drama play out. Scorned from the public humiliation and the broken promises from Enright for additional TV work, Stemple blew the whistle to Jack O’Brian of the New York City Journal-American. With Stempel’s story and evidence from other former contestants, the FCC amended the Communications Act of 1934 to declare illegal any contest or game with intent to deceive the audience.

Thursday December 7

Peter Tomarken (born, 1942)

Tuesday December 12

Bob Barker (born, 1923)

Wednesday December 13

Alan Thicke (died, 2016)

Monday December 18

Mark Goodson (died, 1992)

Friday December 22

Gene Rayburn (born, 1917)