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Monday, July 16, 2012

That's entertainment: Strike It Rich

Strike It Rich was a game show on American radio and television from 1947 to 1958 on CBS and NBC. The program premiered on national television on May 7, 1951 and ran daily until January 3, 1958. It became so popular that CBS aired a prime time version from July 4, 1951, to January 12, 1955.

Known as "the quiz show with a heart," it featured people in need of money who would appear, tell their tale of woe and try to win cash by answering relatively easy questions. If they failed to win, the emcee opened the "Heart Line," which allowed viewers to donate to the contestant.

The show was controversial throughout the 11 years it was on the air. Some claimed that the show really did help less fortunate families and encouraged charity and goodwill among viewers through the Heart Line. Others said the show exploited the needy.

The show received between 3,000 and 5,000 letters each week from people who wanted to be on the show. People hoping to be selected would spend the last of their money traveling to New York, only to be rejected and having to rely on charities such as the Salvation Army and Travelers Aid to help them.

The networks were unconcerned over the controversy and went on record as saying, "We don't want to do anything that would antagonize the sponsor." This attitude allowed companies to control every aspect of the shows they sponsored, resulting in the quiz show scandals of the 1950s, which will be the topic of the next post in this series.

Strike It Rich ended before the scandal came to light, so it never fell under public scrutiny.

From and

Host Warren Hull
Strike It Rich contestants
Vel...a consolation prize?
Posing with the emcee and announcer
Jane Wilson steps in for a contestant in the Heart Line


  1. That's interesting! So sad if it is true that contestants became more poor trying to get on the show! It does seem exploitative to me and is a weird way of promoting charity (getting to choose who is "deserving" and who is not).

    1. A number of government agencies and nonprofit organizations criticized the show for exploiting the poor and making a mockery of charity. The New York City commissioner of welfare actually took the show to court and got a conviction for unlicensed fundraising in order to stop the show.

  2. Strange that I was a young TV junkie in those years and do not really remember watching that show, tho I do remember the name! A similar show was "Queen For A Day" which I found a bit repulsive [rewarding the most wretched, tearful story] even in my young naive years. I never missed "What's My Line" or "You Bet Your Life" but those were "classy" evening shows and not much for prizes, altho $50 bucks was big money in the 50's. Now, "The Millionaire" - that was a fascinating give-away show! I have never forgotten the name "John Beresford Tipton, Jr." and kicking up dusty suburban roads on long walks with my best friend ...spending our mythical million that surely Mr. Tipton was going to endow us with someday. Like good beneficiaries, our first purchase was always for our parents, so surely WE were not going to be "ruined" by our new found wealth ...haha!

    1. I did a post on Queen for a Day a few weeks ago, and no doubt I'll get around to the others you mentioned, as I watched them all. Like you, I'll always remember the names of the generous benefactor John Beresford Tipton, Jr. and his assistant Michael Anthony, who delivered the million dollar checks.

  3. Oh oh ,,,I will have to back to read that post. Musta missed it.