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Newlywed Game

By Wikipedia

The Newlywed Game was an American television game show where newly-married couples answered questions to find out how well the husband and wife knew each other. Produced by Chuck Barris, the show became famous for some of the arguments that couples had over incorrect answers and even led to some divorces.

Broadcast history

The Newlywed Game -- originally created by Nick Nicholson and Roger Muir (who were often mentioned as such in the show's credits) -- aired on ABC Daytime from July 11, 1966, until December 20, 1974 for 2,195 episodes; it also ran an ABC prime time network version from January 1967 to August 1971. In 1977 it was revived for syndication, where it ran until 1980.

After one week of specials aired on ABC in February 1984, the show returned to syndication in 1985 as The New Newlywed Game. That version lasted until 1989.

A third syndicated revival ran from 1996 to 1999.

Hosts

Bob Eubanks is the host that is most often associated with The Newlywed Game. Eubanks hosted all versions except the 1984 ABC version, which Jim Lange hosted; the last season of the 1980s version, which Paul Rodriguez hosted; and the first season of the 1990s version, which Gary Kroeger hosted. The 1996 revival featured a different format than the one described in this article; after one season of disappointing ratings, Eubanks was brought back to the show as host and co-executive producer and the classic format was revived.

Johnny Jacobs was the voice of "The Newlywed Game" during its entire 1966-74 and 1977-80 runs, however, Tony McClay subbed for Jacobs on occasion. Jacobs died in 1982, and when the 1980s version surfaced, Bob Hilton announced from 1984 to 1986, then Charlie O'Donnell took over from 1986 until its cancellation in 1989. John Cramer announced in the '90s.

Rules of the game

For the first round, the wives were taken off the stage while the husbands were asked four questions. (Many of The Newlywed Game's questions dealt with "making whoopee," the euphemism that producers used for sexual intercourse in order to get around network censors.) The wives were then brought back on stage and were asked for their answers for the same four questions. Once the wife gave her answer, the husband gave the answer that he previously gave, which was written on a blue card. A match for that question was worth 5 points for the couple.

The fun was, of course, when the couples didn't match. Often, couples got into huge arguments over their answer, and the audience loved it. Eubanks of course played right along, often using one spouse's words against the other or "taking sides."

The roles were reversed in the second round, where the husbands were taken off the stage and the wives were asked four questions before the husbands were brought back on stage to give their answers. The first three questions in this round were worth 10 points each, and the final question was worth 25 points.

The couple with the highest score at the end of the second round won a prize that was "chosen just for you" (actually, the contestants had requested a certain prize and competed with other couples for that item). The grand prize was never a car, but it could include just about anything else: appliances, furniture, home entertainment systems, a trailer or motorcycles, trips (complete with luggage and camera), etc. In the 1996 remake, the grand prize was always a trip (dubbed "a second honeymoon").

"In the butt, Bob"

The Newlywed Game was the subject of an urban legend for many years. The story, which had several variations, had Bob Eubanks asking a contestant, "Where is the weirdest place where you have ever made whoopee?" in one episode. The contestant supposedly responded, "In the butt, Bob." Eubanks denied the incident for a long time.

It turned out that the incident in question happened in a 1977 episode where Eubanks asked a wife (Olga) where the weirdest place that she and her husband Hank had the urge to "make whoopee" was. After drawing a blank, and prodded by Eubanks to give an answer, the wife responded, "In the ass" (with "ass" bleeped out). As everyone in the studio laughed uproariously, Eubanks clarified the question, asking for the weirdest location.

Eubanks reluctantly presented the clip on a 2002 NBC special, The Most Outrageous Game Show Moments, which he co-hosted. The clip also appeared in the 2002 film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, about the life of producer Barris.

By the way, Hank's original, more pedestrian answer that Olga couldn't match was... "on the freeway," one that had drawn laughter and applause during the husbands-only segment. (Eubanks: "I'm going to take the side streets hereafter." )

During the same season, Eubanks asked another set of couples what their least favorite place to make love was. One wife quickly said, "Probably I would say the ass" (with that word bleeped out, of course) causing her husband to groan and sink in his seat. That episode was seen on the "Nutty Newlyweds" retrospective on Game Show Network in 2002.

Often imitated, but never duplicated

Based on the success of The Newlywed Game, several other game shows – including some produced by Chuck Barris – tried their hand at asking questions of married couples (or related family members) for laughs. Some were successful, others were not, and a couple were in poor taste.

A partial list of shows includes:

  • The Family Game (1967), where host Bob Barker asks children questions about their family's lives, and the parents had to guess how they answered. Produced by Chuck Barris.
  • He Said, She Said (1969-1970) and Tattletales (1974-1978 and 1982-1984), two Mark Goodson-Bill Todman productions asking celebrity couples questions about their marriage. On He Said, She Said, the couples tried to win a prize for a designated audience member; on Tattletales (essentially a remake of the previous show), the couples won money for a designated "rooting section."
  • 3's a Crowd (1979) and All New 3's a Crowd (1999-2001), critically panned Newlywed Game variant where a central subject is interviewed and two contestants with ties to the main contestant separately guessed how he/she responded. In the earlier version (produced by Chuck Barris), the contestants were always a man, his wife and his secretary. The latter version was produced for Game Show Network and could have either a man or woman as the central subject (with usually the contestant's current significant other and someone else, such as an ex-boy/girlfriend or best friend, the other two players).
  • Perfect Match (1986), short-lived Newlywed Game rehash where married couples asked Tattletales-style questions for cash prizes.
  • I'm Telling (1987-1988), NBC Saturday morning game show where siblings (usually brother and sister) ratted each other out through a series of Newlywed Game-style questions. The winning team competed for a prize package.
  • Burt Luddin's Love Buffet (1999), Short-lived Las Vegas-based Game Show Network game that married situation comedy elements to it. In the game part, boyfriend-girlfriend couples answered questions about their relationship; the situation comedy part (revolving around the lives of the show's host and "production" staff) was played out between rounds. Critics panned Love Buffet in large part because of the risqué content and the concept itself. John Cervenka (whom was the announcer for Love Connection) played Burt Luddin and Charlie O'Donnell was the announcer. Tiffany Richardson played Luddin's co-host.
  • Teammates (2005), an ESPN game hosted by Stuart Scott where two teammates from a professional or amateur sports team are asked questions about each other in a Newlywed Game-style format.

A classy network farewell

Despite the show's (and Eubanks)' reputation for pushing the envelope, the ABC finale on Friday, December 20, 1974 saw the emcee deliver one of the most emotional farewells in game show history:

"And now, on our last show of the current series of The Newlywed Game, on behalf of the staff at Chuck Barris Productions, I'd like to thank all of our viewers for your loyal support. And, in addition, I want to send along a special appreciation to the almost 10,000 young newlywed couples who joined us on this stage, and whose great spirits and good humor...(voice trembling) made the past 8 1/2 years a real pleasure. (Pause) I can't say it. Thank you very much."

After a brief flash of the sponsor credits, the camera cut to the stage, where the Chuck Barris Productions staff (later joined by The Newlyweds) was trimming a Christmas tree to the tune of Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride.

 

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TV TIDBITS

Aired: January 7, 1967 - August 30, 1971

Cast: Bob Eubanks

Network: CBS

Genre: Game Show

Theme song

Image courtesy of CBS


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It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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