Sale of The Century

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Weekdays 10:00 AM on GSN - Game Show Network Premiered Sep 29, 1969 In Season

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Sale of The Century

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Sale of the Century was a long-running quiz show that was modestly successful in its native United States. But when producer Reg Grundy produced a version for Australia's Nine(9) Network, it became a phenomenal success down under. This report, however, covers the U.S. versions of Sale of the Century. 1969-1974 version The original 1969 version was produced by William Jones-Al Howard Productions and hosted by Jack Kelly (1969-1971) and former baseball star/contemporary baseball broadcaster Joe Garagiola (1971-1974). Three contestants, including a returning champion, competed to answer a series of questions, read rapid-fire style. Each contestant was spotted $25; correct answers were worth $5, wrong answers deducted $5 from the score. The game was interrupted at several points for Instant Bargains, which allowed the player in the lead to buy a take-it-or-leave-it prize at a heavily-discounted price (e.g., an $1175 color TV-stereo console for $14); if there was a tie for the lead, both or perhaps all 3 players could vie for the prize first-come, first-serve style. The contestant could buy the prize, knowing s/he might later lose the game; at times, the host offered cash, an additional prize or reduced the asking price as an additional incentive to buy the prize. During the second round, question values were increased to $10, added or subtracted appropriately; and again to $25 toward the end of the game. The contestant with the highest cash score when time expired was the day's champion and earned the right to shop in the "Sale of the Century." The losers received their cash score and any Instant Bargain prizes. In the "Sale of the Century," the contestant could use his/her cash score winnings to buy specially-discounted luxury items (e.g., a $2800 dining room suite for $85), or bank the cash and return on the next show and accumulate more by winning future games and having access to more expensive prizes (including a luxury car and a cash jackpot that started at $25,000 and grew by $1000 per show until claimed). That's where the strategy and excitement came in – does the player want that new room of furniture, or does s/he want to bank more cash for that $8500 Cadillac? A player who earned enough cash was awarded all the prizes in the "Sale of the Century" (which often had a combined value of more than $50,000). Late in the NBC run, the format was altered so that three married couples competed, with late-game questions worth $20 and the winning couple going shopping. The format reverted to the original a 1-season syndicated version that appeared in the fall of 1973. 1983-1989 U.S. run $ale of the Century (which had since become a monster hit in Australia under the watch of Reg Grundy) returned to the U.S. in January 1983, with new host Jim Perry (best known in the U.S. on Card Sharks). Perry's easy-going hosting style plus his ability to talk the contestants into the Instant Bargains, made this show – now a Reg Grundy Production – a respectable hit. Originally, the rules were the same as the 1969 version, with the exception of a new "Fame Game" feature. Played in alternating order with the "Instant Bargain," Perry read a series of 6 to 10 first-person clues that led to a famous person, place, thing, event, etc. There was no scoring penalty, but a wrong guess put that player out of the rest of the question. The player who was correct chose one of nine numbers on the 3-by-3 "Fame Game" board (initially, the board held the faces of celebrities); behind the numbers were prizes, cash prizes of $300-$1000 and score money ($10 on the first playing, and $15 and $25 added in subsequent rounds). Later in the run, the player used his lock-in buzzer to stop a randomized light; also, a "Mystery Money" space was added (with cash amounts of $2 to $1,500 offered in lieu of trying for another number). In 1986, the third "Instant Bargain" was replaced by "Instant Cash," wherein the first-place player could spend the full amount of his/her lead on a 1-in-3 shot (the other two had $100) at a box that concealed a growing jackpot, which started at $1000 and grew by that amount each day until claimed. If there was a tie for the lead, Perry held an auction, reducing the prize to as low as $1 for a chance at thousands. Only if the lead was a few dollars or two or more contestants were tied did someone usually go for the "Instant Cash"; many players with a sizable lead passed, even when the jackpot approached $20,000 or more (as it did on more than one occasion). On special weeks (e.g., College Week, Brides Week, etc.), Instant Cash was a flat $2000. After the third "Fame Game" came the 60-second Speed Round in 1984; implemented about a year into the run, this replaced an often anti-climatic series of three final questions in 1983-1984. The bonus round went through 3 distinct formats, as thus: • Format 1 (1983-1986): The old but very lavish "Sale of the Century" from before. The cash jackpot now started at $50,000 (and grew by $1000 per show until claimed); a contestant who won everything in this round could walk away with well over $100,000 in cash and prizes. • Format 2 (1986-1988): The "Winner's Board" game. The player faced a board of 20 squares, which concealed a car, $3000, $10,000, the names of six other prizes (worth between $2000 and $15,000) and two "WIN" cards that served as wild cards for the next prize chosen. After clearing the board, the player was offered a chance to quit and take everything home or return for one more show. If they returned and lost, they lost everything collected off the "Winner's Board," but a win added a $50,000 cash bonus to their already impressive array of cash and prizes. • Format 3 (1988-1989): The "Winner's Big Money Game." The champion was given a prize (worth about $2000-$3000 on the first day and increasing in value for each win to about $10,000) and played this new "guess-the-answer" game, which was about as far from $ale of the Century's original premise as possible. The player was shown a series of six-word clues to famous people, places, things, etc., with the words revealed one at a time every 3/4-second (or so). Solving four won a cash bonus of $5000 for the 1st day, $6000 for the 2nd day and so on up to $10,000 for day 6. On day 7, the contestant played for a luxury car and on day 8, he/she went for the $50,000 cash jackpot. A 5-day-a-week syndicated edition of $ale of the Century ran from January 1985 to September 1986, with the rules changes made concurrent to the NBC daily version.

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Previously Aired Episode

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Season 1 : Episode 1

Bill Wendell

Bill Wendell

Announcer (1969-73)

Jim Perry

Jim Perry

Host (1983-89)

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly

Host (1969-70)

Jay Stewart

Jay Stewart

Announcer (1983-1989)

Joe Garagiola

Joe Garagiola

Host (1970-73)

Summer Bartholomew

Summer Bartholomew

Hostess (1986-89)

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