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Celebrity Sweepstakes

Producer: Ralph Andrews Productions
Host: Jim McKrell
Announcer: Bill Armstrong
Celebrities: Lucy Arnaz, Dean Jones, John Astin, Patti Duke-Astin, Jane Withers, Ted Knight
Taping Info: Late 1973/Early 1974, probably in Los Angeles, CA
Made it to Air: Yes, replacing All-Star Baffle on April 1, 1974 on NBC and lasting until October 1, 1976, when it was replaced by Stumpers. It also aired in once-a-week syndication for the 1974-75 and 1976-77 seasons.
Availability: Trading circuit.

Super-sized celebrity shows were all the rage in the mid-1970s, with the nine on Hollywood Squares, six on Match Game and Tattletales plus four more on Baffle. So what's wrong with throwing together another show? So, Ralph Andrews, who had a long-running hit with You Don't Say, put together this show for NBC that was picked up in 1974.

Jim McKrell, whose only previous hosting experience was the Chuck Barris snore-fest The Game Game, got the hosting duties. On the pilot, there were three contestants, which was pared down to two when the series hit the air. The celebrities would be asked a general knowledge question while the audience guessed via a push button control which of the six celebrities would be get the question correctly. Based on the votes of the 252 audience members, odds were set on each celebrity. A contestant would then bet $2, $5 or $10 on the celebrity of his or her choosing. If the celebrity was right, the player's bank was increased by the odds multiplied by the bet. If the celebrity was wrong, the player's bank was decreased only by the bet, and the next contestant would then place a bet on one of the five remaining celebrities.

This play continued for about ten questions, at which the players' money banks could go up dramatically if they picked a lucky longshot (after a few questions, usually one celebrity would be at least 30-1). After the ten-or-so questions, the "home stretch" round allowed players to bet more on a second celebrity if their choice of first celebrity was correct. In this round, an incorrect question did not go to the next player. One question was given for each player.

The final round was the "all-or-nothing" round. Players picked a person and one of two bets either all or nothing. If the player picked a celebrity who guessed correctly and bet it all, it would be a substantial windfall. If a player had won on three consecutive days, he or she won a car and was retired.

Besides going to two contestants, there were other differences in the pilot as opposed to the real show. On the real show, you could bet $100 on the favorite as long as you had $100 to play with. The tote board was different as well, with just a straight number count rather than the staggered lines of the pilot.

I liked this show when it aired when I was 5, and I think I would watch if it aired today. The pilot resembles how the show actually worked, including the gag answers given by the celebrities before the real ones a la Hollywood Squares and the usual indigence of the one celebrity who was a constant double digit-to-one shot. It is widely believed that this show is gone, but I would have to think that at least the masters for the syndicated version are around somewhere.

Here come the celebrities. Watch out!

Dean Jones

Ted Knight

Jane Withers

Luci Arnaz

John Astin

Patti Duke

Host Jim McKrell

Here are the contestants. Notice the racing motif.

The audience makes their pick.

And the odds are posted. Josephine the Plumber, er, Jane Withers is your longshot at 18-1.

Let's see how the celebrities are doing. Luci Arnaz isn't doing so hot, but if you pick a longshot at the right time...

This pilot has been viewed 11096 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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