Monday, January 12, 2009

Would You Like to be Queen for a Day?

During the fifties I remember watching Queen for a Day on our black and white Zenith television. My mother always enjoyed that show and I had visions of her being on it someday, but it never happened.

This program became popular, in part, due to the viewers fascination with big prize giveaway shows when it was born on radio in 1945 and continued as a radio program until 1957. In 1947 it was also broadcast on television and continued running until 1964. Even in those days, the prizes were pretty fabulous. Check out the 8 minute video on the sidebar to see the extent of the winnings.

With the show’s popularity with the viewers, NBC increased its running time from 30 to 45 minutes. Both the original radio show and the television version were hosted by Jack Bailey. It was broadcast first by Mutual, then NBC, and finally ABC.

The appeal of Queen for a Day was related to a woman hitting rock bottom, or close to it, and the tearjerking factor was always a critical part of the show. The program gave the contestant a one-in-four chance of making good, at least for one day in her life.

Using the classic "applause meter" as did many game or hit-parade style shows of the time, Queen for a Day contestants told why they would like the honour—and the twist of it was that the contestant had to talk publicly about the recent hard times she had been through. The more harsh the circumstances that led a contestant to want to appear, the likelier the studio audience was to ring the applause meter's highest level.

And, to the full accompaniment of "Pomp and Circumstance", the winner would be draped in a red velvet robe and a shimmering crown, and she would be festooned with a dozen long-stemmed roses, trips, a fully-paid night on the town with her husband or her escort, and other prizes. "Make every woman a queen, for every single day!" would be Bailey's trademark signoff.


AZ Mom of Many Hats said...

Aren't there modern day versions of that? Extreme home make over comes to mind. It was an awesome concept though. I would love to be queen for a day. Luckily I have a husband that knows how to make me feel like one!

Douglas said...

I remember QFAD. I always thought it was kind of an odd concept. Get on TV and try to tell a more pitiful story than the other women. I wonder if they had anyone on staff who would try to verify the women's stories. I mean, I could spin a pretty good yarn if I had a shot at taking home the gold.