The War of the Worlds Broadcast

Quiz Show

1950s gameshow: "Twenty-one" (image from

In the 1950s, prime-time quiz gameshows were some of the most popular programs on television.(5) The shows fed the appetite of the American dream by giving away big money to the winning contestants.

Audiences tuned in night after night to watch ordinary people become filthy rich in the seconds it took to answer a question.

But scandal loomed behind the scenes. Many of these gameshows were rigged. Producers would feed the correct answers to contestants and coach them on how to make the game more exciting.(5) Television viewers had no clue that they were actually watching gameshow simulations created to keep ratings up and audiences happy.

The farce continued for most of the decade, but in 1958, angry losing contestants exposed the scandal. Audiences were shocked and outraged. The hoax incited congressional investigations and hearings to keep such an event from happening again. The networks and their sponsors apologized to the angry public and kept the shows off the air until "the matter was settled." (5)

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