In 1973, CBS tried to compete with the popular afternoon talk show then hosted by Mike Douglas. Their candidate to take on Mike? Vin Scully, then (as now) the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers…a man often called the best sportscaster in the business.
Scully was much-loved in Southern California and a seasoned broadcaster. The only argument against him as the host of such a show was that when summer rolled around, he’d be off calling play-by-play and unavailable to tape shows on a daily basis. Reportedly, the folks at CBS thought he was such a good candidate for the post that they decided not to let a little thing like that dissuade them. The show went on the air in January of ’73 (January 15 to be exact) and the thought was that they’d worry about conflicts in Mr. Scully’s schedule later.
As it turned out, it wasn’t necessary. Scully’s show only lasted thirteen weeks, exiting the CBS daytime lineup on March 23 with new game shows taking over the time slot. The Old Redhead, as some called Scully, wasn’t all that comfy interviewing folks who didn’t have a good fastball. When sports figures came on, he was fine. With comedians and movie stars? Not so fine. So Vin scurried back to the broadcast booth and the show was quickly forgotten.
Quiz Kids was a radio show that lasted an amazingly long time when you consider that people really don’t like to listen to smart children. But that’s what it was all about: A quiz program with a panel of very bright kids who often seemed more intelligent than most of the adult viewership.
The radio version debuted in 1940, broadcast from Chicago, and continued until 1953. The TV version started in 1949 and lasted until 1956. Both versions were on and off the air multiple times and even changed networks at least once, and the host was changed several times. It was often used as a replacement show, either as a summer replacement or as a quick substitute for something that had to be cancelled in a hurry.
The kids, of course, changed from season to season. The original rules gave sixteen as the maximum age but at times, the producers would decide that younger contestants were more interesting and they’d “retire” a player well before his or her birthday.
The above ticket is from 1956, near the end of the show’s TV run. By this point, it was on Thursday evenings at 10:30 PM, requiring the kids to stay up pretty late. The host then was Clifton Fadiman, a literary figure who gained great prominence in the forties for hosting or occasionally appearing on the panels of game shows. His biggest hit on radio, which he emceed, was Information Please, one of those quiz programs where you really had to know something in order to win. On TV, he hosted many shows but the most popular was This is Show Business.
Quiz Kids was revived several times after, including a 1978 version hosted by Jim McKrell, a 1981 version hosted by Norman Lear and a 1990 version hosted by Jonathan Prince.