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The Big Surprise

In this NBC primetime game show, contestants who were judged "worthy" because of good deeds or hardship answered a series of questions, worth progressively more from $1 to $100,000. If the contestant missed one of the first four questions, he or she was out of the game. Later, if they missed a question, someone else could answer a different question, in an early version of a "lifeline." If that person answered correctly, they received ten percent of the winnings. The questions were unique in that they had to do with an individual contestant's friends, family, hobbies or hometown.

The 'easy question' girl and the 'hard question' girl brought out the questions. If the contestant missed an easy question he or she would lose all the money; if a hard question was missed, he or she only lost half.

Later, after a format change brought newsman Mike Wallace on as host (in his TV game show debut), contestants answered encyclopedia-like questions in different categories.

The Big Surprise Premiered:

October, 1955


Jack Barry

Mike Wallace


Lorraine Rogers


Lee Vines

Jack Clark

Easy Question Girl:

Sue Oakland

Hard Question Girl:

Mary Gardner

Celebrity Contestants Included:

Errol Flynn


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 1950s Game Shows