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The Big Money

Producer: Andrews/Yageman
Host: Monty Hall
Announcer: John Harlan
Celebrity: Ken Venturi
Music: Rex Koury
Taping Info: January 20, 1966, probably Los Angeles
Made it to Air: No, although elements of this show would appear in 1976's 50 Grand Slam, which was produced by Ralph Andrews.
Availability: UCLA Archive

Monty Hall in 1966 was hot. Hot enough that he was tapped to host a show from another production company, this one a prime-time effort from Ralph Andrews/Bill Yagemann, the brain-trust behind You Don't Say. Part $64,000 Question and part That's Incredible, this effort involved people who could do unusual or complex stunts for varying amounts of money. As a prologue to the show that becomes very clear once you understand the format, Monty Hall explained that even though this is a pilot, for demonstration purposes, we're supposed to pretend that this is the eighth show of the series. Whatever, Monty.

The first contestant comes out and his skill is ax throwing. For $12,500, he would have three chances to hit a very small target from 20 feet. To continue with the fiction Monty explained earlier, he had done this on the last show from 15 feet for $6,000, and would be gambling this money for the $12,500 shot. The axeman agrees to do it, and is successful.

The next contestant is professional golfer and recently retired golf broadcaster Ken Venturi. He won the U.S. Open in 1964, but suffered from crippling carpal tunnel syndrome that forced him to retire in 1967. Since this was his first show, he would do both the intro stunt for $1,500 and his second stunt for $3,000. The intro involved sinking a 7 foot putt (with three tries) while the second stunt involved a 15 yard chip within 3 feet of the green. He nailed them both. No mention was made whether his winnings were going to charity.

The third contestant was the only one to decline his next stunt and keep the money. A precision nailer, he had nailed five two inch nails totally into a 2x4 with just eight hammers for $25,000. He then could try 5 for 5 for the final prize of $50,000, but he declined. The final player's stunt was rifle assembly.

Dear reader, you should appreciate the pain I went through to get you the recap of this pilot. I was watching the pilot for Shopping Spree when I really should have been heading to the airport from UCLA to my flight back to Michigan. As a habit, while at UCLA, I always check to see if there is something after the listed show on the tape for a hidden gem. And, this time it worked, with this pilot being the gem. However, since I spent this time watching the pilot, I missed my flight and had to wait 10 hours for the next one. Donations are always appreciated.

This pilot has been viewed 8528 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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