Friday, November 11, 2011

The Quiz Kids: The "Lost" 1946 Episodes

Courtesy of the Wade Advertising Agency, Miles Laboratories, Inc. sponsored a long-running radio quiz program, The Quiz Kids. Listeners were not just treated to Alka Seltzer and One-A-Day Vitamin commercials, they featured a novel idea that involved youngsters not over fifteen years of age, chosen from the regular schools on a basis of school records and preliminary “Quiz Kid” examinations. The kids stayed on as long as their answering rank continued high or until 16 years of age. The “Kids” answered questions of general information plus some specialized knowledge; as one of the youngsters may be the “arithmetic expert;” another the “literature expert,” etc. Joe Kelly, “teacher of the Quiz Kids,” was emcee of the program.

The program was a “Schoolkids’ Questionnaire” and the youngsters who take part are all-‘round American school kids. They attended the regular schools in addition to working with Joe Kelly for their parts in the program. The questions used on the program were strictly unrehearsed and were submitted by radio listeners, ala Information, Please. (The kids were often considered smarter than the regular grown-up panelists of Information, Please and it's a wonder that someone didn't consider having one of the kids as a guest on Please.) If the listeners’ question was used, the listener received a portable Zenith radio equipped with both standard and shortwave facilities; if the Quiz Kids missed the question, the listener who stumped the youngsters received a console Zenith radio-phonograph combination with the two FM bands and a cobra-tone record-playing arm. The five Quiz Kids on the program each received a $100 Savings Bond for taking part and the three with the highest score at the close of each broadcast were invited back for the next program. (Occasionally, a fourth place winner is also back on the next broadcast.)

The announcer for the series was Bob Murphy. From time to time, guests assisted Joe Kelly.

Ironically, Joe Kelly was a third-grade dropout, a seasoned vaudevillian, and host of the hayseed music program, The National Barn Dance. “His height of intellectual polish before The Quiz Kids was to ring a cowbell and chortle, ‘I’m tea-kettled pink to be here’,” wrote John Lear in the Saturday Evening Post.

I should note that the information above is not indicative to the prior seasons of The Quiz Kids, and only refers to the NBC season that began in September of 1946. Prior, the series was heard over NBC, the Blue Network and ABC. Only three episodes from the calendar year of 1946 are known to exist, March 24, March 31 and June 16, all three of them from the ABC season. The following are the first fourteen episodes when the series made the move back to NBC, and are the first fourteen of the 1946-1947 season. None of these episodes are known to exist in recorded form, hence they are referred to as “lost” episodes. 

Episode #1  Broadcast of September 29, 1946 
Special guest on this broadcast is Mrs. Edith Binker, the winner in the nation-wide scholarship contest to find the best school teacher of 1946. This contest was conducted on The Quiz Kids program while the show was on ABC -- the winner received a cash prize of $2,500 and a year’s graduate study scholarship, plus a week of entertainment in Chicago last spring when she was in the Windy City and when she appeared on the program to receive her award. (The contestants in the “best teacher of 1946” were nominated by their own students.) Mrs. Binker was the teacher of the sixth, seventh and eighth grades of Warren Township School, in New Jersey.

On this broadcast, she did some of the quizzing with Joe Kelly and was also interviewed about her plans for the future. She remarked how she was coming right back to her old job at the Warren Township school. One of the questions used on the program was sent in by Mrs. Binker’s principal, Ralph Juppe, and addressed toward Binker. He asked her to outline her own study plans while doing her graduate work and suggested that she ask the Quiz Kids for some of the study habits they found useful. The Quiz Kids taking part of this broadcast were Naomi Cooks, Ruthie Duskin, Joel Kupperman, Jack Rooney, and the “baby” Quiz Kid was Richard Weixler, age six. The three top scorers were Joel, Ruthie and Jack.

Allan Jones
Episode #2  
Broadcast of October 6, 1946 
The guest on this broadcast was Allan Jones, famous star of Hollywood and concert stage (best known for appearing in two Marx Brothers movies, A Night at the Opera (1935) and A Day at the Races (1937). Jones sang a few bars from each of four love songs. The Quiz Kids listened to identify the songs and then tell if the man in the song marries the girl and if they live happily ever after. The Quiz Kids on this program were Joel Kupperman, Ruthie Duskin, Jack Rooney, Naomi Cook (age 8) and Lonny Lunde (age 10). Winners were Jack first, Joel and Ruthie tied for second.

An announcement was made that next week this regular program would not be heard but the Quiz Kids would be heard as a guest on the special NBC broadcast of Parade of Stars -- a special program which gave NBC listeners a chance to get an overall picture of the programs and stars heard over the network.

Broadcast of October 13, 1946 
The program was canceled on this date in order for the network to have a special Parade of Stars broadcast. The program went to the studio audience only and The Quiz Kids program had a spot on this special. Joe Kelly explained that the broadcast was a part of the “regular session” of the Quiz Kids.

Episode #3  Broadcast of October 20, 1946 
The program regularly originated from Chicago, Illinois. An exception was made for this broadcast and was instead was heard from both Chicago and Washington D.C. A breakdown of this particular broadcast is included below. The Quiz Kids on this evening were Joel Kupperman, Ruthie Duskin, Jack Rooney, Naomi Cooks and Lonny Lunde.

4:00 p.m. Regular opening announcement and introductions.
4:05 p.m. Switch to Washington, D.C. for a two-way set-up with the guest of honor, John W. Snyder, Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. Mr. Snyder asked the Quiz Kids to name three reasons why the Treasury Department was continuing to sell U.S. Savings Bonds.
4:10 p.m. Back to Chicago. The Quiz Kids answer questions about the United Nations.
4:26 p.m. Second switch to Washington, D.C. for a special talk by U.S. Secretary of Treasury Snyder, who announces the presentation to the Quiz Kids program of a U.S. Treasury Silver Medal Award for distinguished service to the Treasury and the Nation, as a result of the active part taken by the program’s cast and sponsor in the War, Victory and Savings Bond drives. The Quiz Kids sponsor had, during the past several years, awards 235 contestants a total of $165,000 in U.S. Bonds. During the War years, the Quiz Kids themselves visited 38 of the country’s cities and presented broadcasts which were open only to the purchasers of War Bonds, resulting in the sale of $120 million dollars worth of E Bonds. Mr. Snyder then announced that the actual presentation of the Award would be made by the U.S. Treasury personal representative who was in the Chicago studio at that time.
4:27 p.m. Switch back to Chicago, where Arnold J. Rauen, Director of the Savings Bond Division for the State of Illinois, presented the U.S. Treasury Silver Medal Award for distinguished service to The Quiz Kids program. (Mr. Rauen spoke for less than a minute.)

Roy Rogers and Gabby Hayes
Episode #4  Broadcast of October 27, 1946
Guests included Roy Rogers and Gabby Hayes. The Quiz Kids on this broadcast included Joel Kupperman, Ruthie Duskin, Jack Rooney, Naomi Cooks and Lonny Lunde. This broadcast had a 2-minute spot on the subject of the Community Chest (Red Feather) drive for funds. Gabby Hayes, Roy Rogers and Joe Kelly talked about the good the Community Chest was doing in the world. For fans of the cowboy actors, my apologies but this is the most info I have for this particular broadcast. One can only assume Roy sang a song.

Episode #5  Broadcast of November 3, 1946 
Not only did this episode originate from Chicago, but New York City as well. The two-way set-up allowed for guest Bennett Cerf, columnist and writer of books, to speak to the kids. Cerf was currently the president of Random House and the “Modern Library.” In Chicago, the Quiz Kids were Joel Kupperman, Lonny Lunde, Jack Rooeny, Judy Graham (age 14) and a new Quiz Kid who was making his first appearance in the form of Robert (Bobby) Burns, age six. Lonny, Joel, Judy and Jack were winners and would return the next week.

The beautiful Virginia Mayo
Episode #6  
Broadcast of November 10, 1946 
Celebrity guest for this broadcast was Virginia Mayo, famed movie actress. The Quiz Kids on this broadcast were Lonny Lunde, Joel Kupperman, Judy Graham, Jack Rooney and the “pocket-sized student,” Sparky Fischman, age seven. Sparky was the young brother of Harve Fischman, a retired Quiz Kid, who was now in Hollywood working as a correspondent to Hollywood for a Chicago newspaper. An announcement was made on this program that next week’s program would feature questions sent in by servicemen or women in one of our Army, Navy or Government hospitals.

Episode #7  Broadcast of November 17, 1946 
The entire program was in salute to the hospitalized veterans of World War II, with all questions used on the program sent in by men and women vets. If a question was missed by the Quiz Kids, the vet who sent in the “stumping” query received a $200 Zenith Radio-Phonograph combination. All whose questions were used received the usual portable radios. As a surprise gift, all servicemen and women who sent in questions postmarked before midnight, Saturday, November 16, each received a monogrammed Zippo cigarette lighter as a gift from the Quiz Kids -- over 100 hospitalized vets, men and women, received the lighters.

The Quiz Kids on this broadcast were Lonny Lunde, Joel Kupperman, Judy Graham, Sparky Fischman and Richard (Dick) Sedlack, age 15. The celebrity guest was Dr. Paul R. Hawley, Chief Medical Director of the Department of Medicine and Surgery in the Veterans Administration. Dr. Hawley thanked the Quiz Kids for the “morale-building job” they had done both in their personal appearance visits to the various veterans’ hospitals and by the way they used the veterans’ questions in their program. Dr. Hawley’s talk was from 4:26 to 4:28 p.m. (2 minutes). Winning Quiz Kids were Joel, Lonny and Richard.

Neil Hamilton
Episode #8  
Broadcast of November 24, 1946 
Celebrity guest was Neil Hamilton, a famed actor who would later gain pop culture fame playing the role of Commissioner Gordon on television’s Batman. Hamilton was currently starring in the Chicago production of “State of the Union” on stage. The Quiz Kids on this broadcast were Lonny Lunde, Joel Kupperman, Naomi Cooks, Richard (Dick) Sedlack, and a little new Quiz Kid, nine-year-old Danny Martin. The Quiz Kids included a brief discussion about Thanksgiving on this program. Top winners were Joel, Richard, Lonny and Naomi.

Episode #9  Broadcast of December 1, 1946 
From Chicago and Washington, D.C. The entire program was in honor of the National 4-H Club members who were attending the 25th National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago. The studio guests were 150 prominent 4-H Club members from all parts of the nation. The Quiz Kids panel included a guest Quiz Kid, Dianne Mathre, 4-H Club member and 14-year-old president of the DeKalb, Ill. 4-H Club. Other Quiz Kids taking part in this broadcast were Lonny Lunde, Joel Kupperman, Richard (Dick) Sedlack and Naomi Cooks. 

During the program, there were two switches to Washington with two-way set-ups between Chicago and Washington so that the guest in Washington would talk with the Quiz Kids in Chicago. Joe Kelly also introduced Phyllis Bonnater, owner of the new 4-H Championship steer.

4:02 to 4:04 First switch to Washington so U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Clinton P. Anderson, could ask the Quiz Kids a few questions.
4:27 to 4:28 Second switch to Washington for a talk by Anderson, who congratulated all of the 4-H Club members of America on the excellent work that they are doing. Secretary Anderson also thanked the Quiz Kids for the part which they played in the life of boys and girls all over the nation, both in the cities and in rural districts.
4:28 Back to Chicago for the conclusion of the program. Joe Kelly announced the winners as usual. Lonny Lunde and Dianne. However, Kelly explains that next week’s program would be broadcast from Washington, D.C. where Lonny Lunde, Joel Kupperman, Naomi Cooks, Jack Rooney and Danny Martin would be the participants. This would be the first “Quiz Kid” trip for every one of the children except for Joel.

Episode #10  Broadcast of December 8, 1946 
The entire broadcast originates from Washington, D.C., instead of Chicago. The broadcast originated from the Library of Congress. Durward Kirby, the New York radio personality who was known at the time as being the emcee of Honeymoon in New York program, was the announcer instead of Bob Murphy. The entire broadcast was dedicated to the good will between North and South America. The Quiz kids taking part were Joel Kupperman, Naomi Cooks, Lonny Lunde, Jack Rooney and Danny Martin. Martin was born in Peru and came to the U.S. in 1944. He was one of the children from the Peruvian Embassy. 

A portion of the program was devoted to a tribute to Dr. Leo S. Rowe, late director-general of the Pan-American Union. Dr. Rowe was fatally injured in an automobile accident on Thursday, December 5, 1946. He had been scheduled to be the honor guest for the Quiz Kids on this date. Paying tribute to Dr. Rowe and taking part of the program were Senor Roberto Aguilar Drisgueros, El Salvadorian delegate to UNRRA; and U.S. Senator Carl A. Hatch (D) of New Mexico, who spoke for approximately two minutes and told of the work and significance of the Pan-American Union.

Another guest on this program was William Randall Jones, 16, of Little Rock, Arkansas, winner of the $1,000 study award for writing the winning nation-wide high school essay on the subject, “The Economic Influence of Coffee.” The essay contest was sponsored by the Pan-American Coffee Bureau and the Council for Inter-American Cooperation. The award was made on the program. Another guest was Inez Elvira Santamaria, the young daughter of the Columbian ambassador to the U.S. Inez talked in both Spanish and English in her conversations with the Quiz Kids.

Episode #11  Broadcast of December 15, 1946 
The entire program was dedicated to hospitalized veterans of World War II. All of the questions used on the program were sent in by vets. Every veteran who sent in a question, even if it was not used on the program, received a gift from the Quiz Kids -- a Reynolds Rocket pen that wrote for 15 years without filling.

The guest celebrity was Maurice Evans, the great Shakespearean actor. Joe Kelly said Evans was a veteran too, with the rank of Major in the United States Army. Evans was in charge of all troop entertainment in the Central Pacific Area.

The Quiz Kids taking part of this broadcast included Joel Kupperman, Dianne Mathre, Lonny Lunde, Patrick Conlon (age 9) and Richard Weixler, the six-year-old. Winners were Joel, Lonny and Patrick. However, little Richard Weixler was invited to partake again next week, because the broadcast would be heard from Richard’s Sunday School class Christmas part with Richard as host.

Gertrude Lawrence during rehearsals.
Episode #12  
Broadcast of December 22, 1946 
Only the commercials originated from the Chicago studios with Bob Murphy. The rest of the broadcast originated from the Kenwood Church Sunday School Room on Chicago’s South Side, where Quiz Kid Richard Weixler’s class is having a Christmas party. Special guest at the party was well-known Gertrude Lawrence. The Quiz Kids taking part were Joel Kupperman, Naomi Cooks, Lonny Lunde, Patrick Conlon and Richard Weixler.

Following a few questions, the Quiz Kids took part in a regular Christmas program to entertain the Sunday School class. Naomi Cooks did a condensed version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Patrick Conlon did his especially-prepared tracing of the line of descent from Adam down to Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Lonny plays an excerpt from Schubert’s “Impromptu in A-Flat Major” (on the piano). Joel Kupperman read an original poem titled “Christmas Greetings to Joe Kelly.” A little girl named Betty Diaz, a member of the Sunday School class, was asked to recite a little poem which she knew. She obliged because she liked Joe Kelly, who had been sitting beside her on the front row for the entire program.

Gertrude Lawrence as Mrs. Santa Claus distributed candy and Christmas stocking gifts to the entire assemblage of little guests. Lawrence also made a one-minute talk in behalf of the little children of Europe -- children who may not be having a Christmas at all this year. She asked all American children who may be listening to send a little portion of their Christmas cheer to those less fortunate. She told of the Personal Parcels Service, operated by the Gertrude Lawrence Branch of the American Theater Wing. These Personal Parcels contained food and other basic necessities for children abroad -- the work of the Branch was voluntary and every contribution, food or money, went directly and completely to the cause. “If you want to contribute, send your offering to Quiz Kids, Chicago.” Following Gertrude Lawrence’s talk and a few games, Richard Weixler closed the program by talking about prayer and then repeating the Lord’s prayer.

Episode #13  Broadcast of December 29, 1946
This was the New Year’s program and in keeping with the tradition of getting together with old friends for the New Year, the Quiz Kids invited some of their ex-Quiz Kids to take part as program guests. Regular Quiz Kids on the program are Joel Kupperman, Lonny Lunde, Naomi Cooks, Patrick Conlon and Richard Weixler. Naomi Cooks and Joe Kelly took a portable microphone and interviewed briefly as many of the Quiz Kid graduate guests as the time permitted. When time grew short, Joe Kelly just called out the names of the Quiz Kid grads and asked them to answer in one brief statement telling what they were currently doing.

Scan of a Quiz Kids promotional postcard.

Okay… For those asking for more, I’m going to go into 1947 a bit...
Episode #14  Broadcast of January 5, 1947 
The Quiz Kids on this program were Joel Kupperman, Naomi Cooks, Lonny Lunde, Patrick Conlon and Richard Weixler. Joe Kelly remarked that the new year is only five days old and the five Quiz Kids on today’s broadcast were an unusually young group -- they averaged only 8 4/5 years apiece and the total birthdays of all five of them just about equal the age of their teacher, Joe Kelly. Patrick, Lonny and Joel were the three winners who would return to the show next week.  

Closing Note 
The spelling of the kids originate from a variety of sources and regrettably, varied. Lonnie Lunde or Lonny Lunde? I chose to go by the names as they were spelled in John Dunning’s On the Air encyclopedia, since he often turned to periodicals for information and would have reprinted the names as spelled in those periodicals. Could those periodicals have the names mis-spelled? Of course. I’ve seen it hundreds of times. But I had to use something to base the spelling. The spelling of names are subject to revision, but only if someone can send me something that verifies the correct spelling. Far as I know, they are accurate above.

1 comment:

Jack Rooney said...

This is Jack Rooney, mentioned above. I have some records somewhere I think.

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