After a rather long distance courtship, I married my present husband, Doc – and promptly packed up by belongings and kids, moving across the country to be with him. At the time he was assigned to a Navy base in Southern California – a place with perfect weather, beaches, and (as the Beverly Hillbillies so aptly described it) “swimmin’ pools and movie stars”.
One Sunday while reading through the classifieds of our local paper, I saw an ad for open tryouts for a game show that was filming in Los Angeles. I mentioned it to a friend and we figured it was a fun way to spend an afternoon – so we headed up. The producers explained that we were trying out for “Quiz Kid’s Challenge” – a show that pitted a team of three adults against a team of three “Quiz Kids” in a battle of wits and intelligence. You can find out more about the show here Quiz Kids: A Short History or even watch an episode here Now That’s (Not) Entertainment
The contestant wannabes were asked to take a written quiz and then seated in classroom desks and given individual buzzers while the producers fired questions at us and filmed the results. I should mention here that I’m an extremely competitive person, so once the actual “game” began I was in my element and I managed to buzz in and answer a good percentage of the questions. The tryout ended and we were told that we would receive a call if any were found worthy to appear on the actual show.
Two days later my phone rang – it was a producer for Quiz Kid’s Challenge, telling me they wanted me on the show and asking me to come up for taping later that week. I was told that I was “a Producer’s dream”, due to my personality, smile, on-camera presence, and intelligence. Well, how can a girl say no after being buttered up like that? I invited my husband and kids along to be seated in the “studio audience” and we drove back up to LA for the show. I was then shown to the “green room” (that is a waiting room, in case you didn’t know. Forgive me for flaunting my Hollywood lingo — but dammit – when you get swept into the celebrity lifestyle, it’s hard to keep a level head). I met the rest of the adults who would be competing and the producer explained that this was actually the last day of filming for Kid’s Quiz Challenge, as it had not been picked up for another season. That was a momentary crushing blow to my dreams of being invited back for a tournament of champions– but then she went on to say that the adult teams always appeared on one show and one show only, even if they were the victors – so I had to come to terms with the fact that this show might not be my launch into stardom.
My team of three was scheduled to be on Friday’s show – so we watched as they filmed the shows for Monday-Thursday. The team of children got to stay on for the whole week – even if they lost a show (yes, I know – I didn’t consider that to be very fair either!) – And I quickly determined that they were not only smart, but also snotty and too full of self-confidence for their own good. The kids quickly decimated the adults on all four shows, smirking as they did so. Then it was our turn and the last chance for an adult team to defend our honor and intelligence!
We were escorted to the set and stood to the side as Johnny Gilbert read the opening announcements for the show. The Quiz Kids introduced themselves, the adults introduced ourselves, and then we were supposed to walk over to where the kids were seated and shake their hands, wishing them luck before we sat down. I had been assigned the task of shaking the hand of the smallest – and the most condescending – Quiz Kid on the panel. I gave his hand a mighty squeeze and smiled wickedly as I said quietly, “We’re going to kick your ass!” The smug smile dropped from his face and his eyes grew wide – and I crinkled my nose at him before heading for my seat.
Can I just say that the adults WERE ON FIRE??? Not that I’m bragging (too much), but I personally took the entire category in Spanish words (my high school language class actually paid off!) However, the kids held their own – so they were not far behind. In the last round – the “100 Second Challenge,” random categories would show up on the board and the goal was to answer the most questions correctly. The values increased as the time counted down – so it was an opportunity to pull far ahead, or have your dreams dashed forever. Everyone was answering fast and furiously – and when the dust cleared….the ADULTS had triumphed! With the celebration that ensued, you would have thought we won a million dollars instead of the $1800 we were splitting three ways. I noticed when watching the show later on television that the smallest Quiz Kid was extremely pissed off at our victory, which of course, pleased me to no end.
Besides the cash, each person on our team was also given a choice of a camera, sportswear, or an exercise bike…and the fun didn’t end there! For months afterwards, I would occasionally get boxes in the mail, containing gifts from the various sponsors of the show, including cases of hot sauce, baby clothes, Looney-Tune watches, and more.
We had to move to a new duty station before I was eligible to audition for more game shows…but I had more opportunities to do so years later. Unfortunately, those auditions did not go nearly as well.