NBC (ended 1973)
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  • Episode Guide
  • S 1 : Ep 273

    Wednesday September 2, 1959

    Aired 9/2/59

  • S 1 : Ep 272

    Wednesday September 2, 1959

    Aired 9/2/59

  • S 1 : Ep 271

    Tuesday September 1, 1959

    Aired 9/1/59

  • S 1 : Ep 270

    Monday August 31, 1959

    Aired 8/31/59

  • S 1 : Ep 269

    Friday August 28, 1959

    Aired 8/28/59

  • Cast & Crew
  • Ed McMahon

    Host (1969)

  • Gene Wood

    Sub-Announcer (mid-1970s)

  • Johnny Olson

    Announcer (1973-1978)

  • Hugh Downs

    Host (1958-68)

  • Jack Narz


  • show Description
  • Game show producers Jack Barry and Dan Enright created this classic game show, based on the children's matching memory game. The first match aired on August 25-29, 1958, but it seemed doomed when Barry and Enright (because of their roles in the fast-unfolding Quiz Show Scandals) were forced to relinquish their ownership of the game. However, NBC-TV took over production and the rest is history. 2 contestants, including a returning champion, competed to solve a rebus hidden beneath a board of 30 numbers (1-30). The board itself concealed the names of prizes(good or joke),wild cards and other action cards (described below). Each player in turn, called out a pair of numbers. No match gave his/her opponent control of the board, but a match gave whatever prize was printed on the card or allowed him/her to perform an action. It also revealed to pieces of the rebus (identifying a person, phrase, place, thing, etc.); the player could try to solve the rebus, but even if he/she was wrong, he/she kept control. In addition to all those prizes, there were the following action cards: WILD - Self-explanatory; provided an automatic match. Early on, players uncovering 2 WILD cards won a $500 bonus and chose two additional number, the prizes went on that contestant's side and 4 pieces of the rebus were revealed. Late in the run, getting 2 WILD cards in the same turn won the player a new car – usually the Chevrolet Nova – which he/she kept, regardless of the game's outcome. Take One Gift - The contestant at that moment was allowed to take a prize his/her opponent might have in their possession and put it in his/her own rack. Usually, there were 2 sets of these per game. Forfeit One Gift - The player immediately had to give up one of the prizes he/she had in his possession to his/her opponent. Also 2 sets per game. Also included were 2 or 3 joke prizes (such as a banana peel or torn teddy bear). These actually served as insurance markers against opponents' Take cards and the Forfeit cards he/she might stumble upon. Only upon correctly solving the puzzle on the rebus does a player actually win what he/she claimed from the board (he/she also earned $100 if there were no prizes in his/her rack). The loser forfeits all his/her gifts. For the 1st 2 seasons of the show (1958-1960), there's no bonus game. The 1st end game was "The Envelope and its Mysterious Contents" (which hid cash amounts or a grand prize such as a car) in 1960. Later that time, "The Cash Wheel" which allowed a player to win up to $2000 cash by spinning a carnival wheel in 1962. Champions continued until either defeated or by winning 20 games (reportedly accomplished just once, in 1966 by Ruth Horowitz, though other 20-game champions have been documented in recent years). Another noted contestant is Ralph Branca, a Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who won 17 games. Beginning in 1963 The top 4 winners each season returned to play a best 4 out of 7 World Series style "CONCENTRATION Challenge of Champions Tournament." The grand prize was $1000, a trip around the world plus "The Connie" (a trophy modeled after Rodin's The Thinker). On March 23, 1973, after 3796 episodes (featuring a reported 7,300 rebuses), the show ended its 15-Season run on NBC. The 1st puzzle was "It Happened One Night" & The last puzzle was "You've Been More Than Kind." It was replaced by Baffle. Concentration will stand for all time as the longest-running game show in NBC history. The longevity of the show was finally eclipsed in April 1987 by the 1972 version of The Price is Right. Concentration now ranks fourth on the long-run list of long-running daytime/syndicated game shows (behind TPiR and the syndicated runs of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!). Goodson-Todman Productions was awarded the rights to the show and produced a five-a-week syndicated revival of the show on September 10-14, 1973, which ran 5 years (to this day, this is the only Goodson-Todman series that was NOT their original creation). The game was the same as before, with two new contestants competing each day. The rules basically were the same, except the idea of joke prizes was scrapped as well as Forfeit One Gift. They were replaced by a new Free Look space, which upon a match allowed the contestant to briefly open up two as-of-yet available numbers, which he/she thought would help him solve the rebus. Also, Narz announced the whereabouts of four of the prizes (to give players a "head start") at the outset of each game; and, uncovering both WILD cards in a single turn earned the player a $250 bonus, which he/she kept regardless of the game's outcome. And, the player was spotted another $250 if he/she solved the rebus and didn't have any prizes. The winner played a new bonus round called Double Play, with a new car as the top prize for solving two rebuses within 10 seconds. During the 1977-1978 season, players determined their Double Play prize package by choosing two squares from a 10-space board and competing for the first prize package matched. The show returned in 1987 as Classic Concentration; see that title for more details. Both versions of Concentration offered an impressive array and variety of prizes. One retrospective of the original series reported the following prize tally: * 512 cars. * 397 boats. * 1,287 domestic and foreign trips and cruises. * 12 trips around the world. * 857 fur coats. * Numerous diamonds. Additionally, there were countless gift certificates, travel trailers, airplanes, swimming pools, furniture, kitchen appliances (large and small), rooms of furniture, clothing, stereos and televisions, fantastic nights out on the town and virtually any other item seen in any mail-order catalog. One history of the 1958-1973 series reported the total prize giveaway at $10 million. Speaking of prizes, the prize values were deliberately much, much smaller than those of the big-money quiz shows implicated as part of the scandals of the late-1950s. Barry and Enright deliberately kept the winnings low-value to avoid any suggestion that it, too, was tainted. Usually, there was at least one prize worth more than $1000; however, nearly all the other prizes were worth less than $500 with some in the $10-$100 range. A board of prizes rarely totalled more than $2000-$3000 and champions rarely took home more than that in merchandise during their stay (though some longer-lived winners approached $10,000). Milton Bradley (and later, Pressman and Endless Games) marketed home versions of Concentration (and later, Classic Concentration); millions of copies of more than 25 editions of this best-selling, enduring game have been sold since the first one went on sale in 1959.moreless

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