Biography: Herb Stempel is a television game show contestant who became famous for his participation in the 1950's show Twenty One, where he had a suspiciously long run of wins. Stempel's winning streak was due to the fact that he was given the questions and answers in advance. Show's producer Dan Enright had Stempel basically put on an act of pretending to know the answers and struggle with the questions. Eventually, Stempel's popularity among the sponsors and viewers diminished and he was forced to lose in favor of college professor Charles Van Doren, who became the new champion. Van Doren was selected due to appearing to be a clean-cut intellectual. Stempel was understandably upset that he had to do this. One thing that really hurt Herb was overhearing a comment about him that basically referred to him as being a freak with a sponge memory.
Herb Stempel finally went to the authorities to explain how the show was fixed and how he took part in it. At the time, there was no real evidence of what he claimed. Dan Enright claimed that it was out of jealousy that Stempel was making these accusations. The truth did eventually come out and the scandal was brought to trial. He admitted to participating in "fixed" programs where he had advance knowledge of questions once he was forced to lose in favor of Charles Van Doren.
Stempel was portrayed by John Turturro in the film Quiz Show.
A famous, easy question that he was told to answer incorrectly involved the film that won best picture in 1955, which was Marty. Though this was not the question he really lost on, as is shown in Quiz Show.