Classic TV & Movie Hits
|Strike It Rich|
This Show Page is maintained by:
Strike it rich was one of the most hotly debated programs on television during the 1950's. To some it was TV's noblest hour, helping those less fortunate than most through the charity and goodwill of viewers. To others it was one of the most sickening spectacles ever seen on a TV screen, exploiting those same unfortunates for the vicarious thrill of viewers and the selfish gain of advertisers, a kind of video "kick the cripple." It was investigated by governmental bodies, limned by charitable organizations, and defended by others. Whichever way you looked at it, though, it was certainly popular, and perhaps the ultimate example of viewer-participation television.
Strike It Rich was created by producer Walt Framer and was first heard on CBS radio in 1947. It consisted of a quiz show whose contestants were exclusively people in need of money - for medical treatment, for a destitute family, for a crippled children's hospital, for a little girl who had lost her dog... About a quarter of the contestants were actually representing someone else who was in need. The questions were easy and most contestants were winners - if you could classify anyone on a show like this a "winner" - but even if they lost, there was always the "Heart Line." After they told their tale of woe, emcee Hull would open up the telephone lines and ask viewers to pitch in what they could. And they did, thousands of dollars every broadcast, expensive therapeutic equipment, clothes, and furniture for those who had none, an endless stream of gifts from all over America to help ease the contestant's suffering.
The problem, besides the obvious ethical one, was that the program seemed to promise more than it could deliver. For every charity case that got on the air, hundreds were turned away (only "appealing" or "interesting" cases were wanted). From 3,000 to 5,000 letters a week poured in from desperate people, and despite the program's repeated advice to the contrary, dozens of them journeyed to New York in hopes of being picked out of the studio audience. Most of these wound up stranded in the city, and were forced to go to welfare agencies or the Salvation Army - which complained bitterly about the effect the show was having. The New York City Commissioner of Welfare called Strike It Rich "a disgusting spectacle and a national disgrace," and demanded that it be investigated. The supervisor of the Travelers Aid Society said, "We don't know if the successes on the show balance off against the human misery caused by it. But from what we see, I'd say they didn't...Putting human misery on display can hardly be called right". The General Director of the Family Service Association of America said flatly, "Victims of poverty, illness, and everyday misfortune should not be made a public spectacle or seemingly be put in the position of begging for charity." A New York State legislative committee did look into the controversy, but then washed its hands of the affair, claiming that it did not have jurisdiction. As for CBS and NBC, the networks that carried the show on television and radio respectively, they were unconcerned. "We don't want to do anything that would antagonize the sponsor," said NBC.
And so the program that TV Guide called "a despicable travesty on the very nature of charity" continued untouched until it ended its normal run.
Strike It Rich remained on CBS' daytime TV schedule until January 1958. There were two attempts to revive it as a syndicated program in the 1970s, with Bert Parks as host in 1973 and Tom Kelly as host in 1978. Neither revival was successful.
Joe Garagiola hosted a syndicated quiz show that used the title Strike It Rich during the 1986-1987 season.
|> Airing History & Information|
|Last Airing||Jan 12, 1955|
|Premiere||July 4, 1951|
|Format/Time||Black & White / 30 Minutes|
|Upcoming Airs||Not currently airing|
Warren Hull.... Himself/Host
John Cannon.... Himself/Substitute Annoucer (1952-1955)
Jack Carson.... Himself/Substitute Announcer (1955, 1956)
Mort Lawrence.... Himself/Substitute Announcer (1956-1957)
Ron Rawson.... Himself/Substitute Announcer (1951, 1952)
[More Cast & Guest Stars]
|> News (News Archive) (Post a News Story)|
|No News has been posted for this show.|
|> Show Media|