Raymond Taylor, Best Wheel of Fortune Contestant Ever

Posted in Fun and Crazy, Wheel of Fortune, Youtube Favs on December 15th, 2011 by Willie

So the story goes that while on the road in Chicago, the Wheel of Fortune game show had a contestant drop out at the last minute.  The producers found some guy named Raymond Taylor on the street, gave him a suit, and propped him on the stage.  I have no idea if this is true or urban legend, but legend is the operative word when describing Raymond Taylor’s exploits on Wheel of Fortune.  Raymond was a skinny Chuck Berry clone who could never look anyone in the eye, and was constantly fidgeting around the set.  He was also TV gold.  He was genuinely witty and cutting in all his remarks and timing, and he was a stunningly adept “Wheel” player.  Many people assume, with racist underpinnings, that Raymond was a crack addicted clown.  I’m not going to go that far.  Television has a way of either making people conform with fear, or bringing out their inner star.  I think this was the case of the latter.  Raymond ended up winning over 80k in cash and prizes, and actually began to stalk the Wheel of Fortune studios looking for a job.  The studio ended up putting a restraining order against him.  It’s a bizarre end to a hilarious and peculiar story, but check Raymond out yourself in his best moments on his unreal Wheel of Fortune run.

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Twenty One, The Quiz Show Scandals

Posted in Quiz Show Scandal, Youtube Favs on November 7th, 2011 by Willie

A movie I always loved was Quiz Show, the 1994 film directed by acting legend Robert Redford.  The movie is about the infamous practice of game show rigging that went on in the 1950s, especially at NBC with their hit show “Twenty One.”  Proclaiming to audiences that the questions to the answers were kept in a secure bank vault, the reality was that the contestants were outright told the answers before the broadcast, and were also told when to take a dive when the audience grew tired seeing them win.  It was a stunning fraud perpetrated to keep rating high and sell the sponsor’s products, in this case Geritol, a “tired blood” supplement.  The movie focused on Columbia University teacher Charles Van Doren, a handsome, well bred, and well spoken intellectual, and Herbert Stempel, an unemployed everyman from Queens who was asked to take a dive.  Stempel went along with the fraud because he was promised a future on television which he never received.  Incensed by NBC kicking him out the door, Stempel blew the whistle on the whole charade, eventually getting the attention of federal prosecutors in Washington DC who helped blow the lid off the thing.  The movie is great because its a rich and sumptuous look at the glamorous side of late 50s New York City, precipitating the look and feel of shows like “Mad Men” and “Pan Am.”  What I have below is the actual episode of the show that the movie was based on, so you can see for yourself where reality differs from the movie.  The most striking thing about watching the actual Van Doren/Stempel contest is what amazing acting these guys did in the phoniest of situations.  They were just regular guys with no entertainment backgrounds asked to put on a show in front of 50 million people.  It’s truly remarkable.  I’m also including the trailer for Quiz Show just to entice you to watch in case you haven’t seen it.



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