Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
The 64,000 Dollar Question
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

The 64,000 Dollar Question

The $64,000 Question was a popular United States television game show.

It is a descendant of a radio game show going back to the 1940s known as $64 Question. The host asked contestants a series of questions, each more difficult than the preceding one, for ever greater amounts of money, up to the last one, worth 64 United States dollars if the contestant answered correctly.

The phrase "The 64 Dollar Question" became slang for a particularly difficult question or problem.

Strangely the phrase 'the 64,000 dollar question' is common in Britain, where it means 'the most important question', despite the fact that the original game show is virtually unknown in the UK. Later, there was a British adaptation of the show (still called The 64,000 Dollar Question).

The television version premiered in 1955. A contestant would be asked several questions, earning money which escalated as the questions became harder. Once the contestant had reached $4000 in winnings, they would come back the next week for one question. They could quit at any time and retire with their money, but until they won $8000, if they got a question wrong, they were eliminated without winning anything. Once the contestant won $8000, if they missed a question they received a consolation prize of a new Cadillac. Once reaching the $8000 level, they were placed in the Revlon "isolation booth", where they could hear nothing but the host's words. As long as the contestant kept answering correctly, they could stay on the show until they had won $64,000.

The program was an enormous hit immediately, reaching number one on the charts, even drawing more viewers than I Love Lucy. It spawned many imitators, including Twenty-One, The Big Surprise and The $64,000 Challenge. Challenge was a sister show to Question -- $64,000 winners on Question would move over to Challenge, where they could win another $70,000. Among the winners on both shows was Doctor Joyce Brothers, who proved her expertise in her chosen category, boxing.

The biggest winners on the combined shows were 11-year-old Robert Strom, who won $192,000 with new escalating question plateaus, and Teddy Nadler, who won a total of $252,000.

TV Guide kept a running total of the amount of money won on Question, with $1,000,000 the total by the end of November 1956.

The show ran until 1958, when the quiz show scandals hit.

The $64,000 Question was hosted by Hal March.