This TV genre suffered a scandal in 1950s that nearly wiped it off screens, but endures as one of the most popular programming types today. Now, the history of these shows finally has a physical home of its own.
What is… the game show?!
The first quiz show launched on radio in 1923; now, nearly 100 years later, the National Archives of Game Show History has launched at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y. Veteran TV producers Bob Boden (“Funny You Should Ask”) and Howard Blumenthal (“Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”) have co-founded the archives and will curate the collection.
Boden and Blumenthal are aiming to acquire materials and records from game show professionals, such as producers, performers, directors, designers, writers, executives, and staff members. They’re looking for items like scripts, set designs, props, technical plans, marketing materials, creative plans, production plans, and more. The duo already own a rich personal collection, such as Boden’s vast, colorful stockpile of tickets from game show tapings over the years.
Heavy hitters who have thrown their support behind the effort include “Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time” winner Ken Jennings. “I’ve often said that game shows, like jazz and comic books, are one of the great American art forms,” he says, “but they have always been considered by many to be a disposable genre. I am delighted by this new effort to take game shows seriously and to archive and preserve their history. I grew up watching game shows as a daily ritual. They’ve shaped who I am as a person, as well as our cultural landscape.”
The only collections-based museum in the world devoted to the history and exploration of play, The Strong is also home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play.
“Game shows are a part of American popular culture,” said Christopher Bensch, vice president for collections at The Strong. “Game shows are also a form of play for both the participant and viewer, reaching hundreds of millions of viewers. It’s only natural that the museum at the forefront of preserving play history takes on the challenge of preserving the history of television game shows.”
The Strong also plans to produce new video interviews with some of the creators, producers, hosts, and iconic contestants from game shows.
“It is wonderful to hear about the National Archives of Game Show History stepping up to capture and preserve the legacy of game shows,” says legendary host Wink Martindale (“High Rollers,” “Tic Tac Dough”). “Without this initiative, many primary resources relating to these shows, as well as oral histories of their creators and talent, risked being lost forever. I am very excited to see this launch and grow to become the primary destination for game show information in the country.”