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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

That's entertainment: Queen for a Day

Would YOU like to be Queen for a Day?

This popular program started on radio in 1945. Host Jack Bailey posed the question for the first time on national television in January of 1956, and the show continued to be aired on weekday afternoons until 1964.

The show was broadcast live from the Moulin Rouge, a dinner theater on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Every day four women were chosen from the audience to compete for the crown. Each one would tell a personal hardship story and ask for something specific to make her life easier. Then the audience would be asked to clap for the candidates, and an applause meter would indicate the winner. Each day's program also included a fashion show with commentary by Jeanne Cagney, sister of actor James Cagney. Sometimes famous entertainers would visit the set and pose for a photograph with the winning contestant.

Queen for a Day is considered to be a forerunner of today's reality programs on television, and it was every bit as sensational...and often they are now. Each woman would try to top the other's story. The sadder the story, the more likely the woman was to be selected. Tears apparently got you bonus applause points.

To the tune of Pomp and Circumstance, the winner would be draped in a velvet cloak trimmed in ermine, receive a glittering rhinestone crown, be given a dozen red roses and would usually either weep dramatically as her prizes were described...or forget to be sad altogether. She would, of course, be given the prize she requested, but that was just the beginning. Often she would receive a vacation, household appliances or clothing.

I remember watching the show with my mother after school, although looking back, I can't imagine why she thought it was suitable for an elementary school child to view. In all honesty, it was a pretty depressing way to spend 30 minutes.


The question
The introductions
The interview
The applause meter
The coronation
The prizes
The occasional guest appearance (Frankie Avalon)
Uploaded by MrLegalmovies on Oct 7, 2011


  1. LOL - I watched it at my neighbor's house as a little, little kid (yes, I was that odd little kid who went around adopting the older couples in the neighborhood!)but all I remember was a woman got a crown and a robe and a washing machine. My mom did NOT think it was a show I should watch (thus the neighbor's) when she told me the ladies didn't get to keep the robe and crown, I lost interest!

    1. The robe and the crown were definitely the big draw for me...and I seem to remember a lot of Speed Queen washing machines too...LOL