Here are some of the strangest game shows ever to air on American television.
ACROSS THE BOARD (1959)
Concept: Two contestants competed to see who could finish a crossword puzzle first. (Have you ever watched somebody else fill out a crossword puzzle? It’s pretty boring.)
LUCKY PARTNERS (1958)
Host Carl Cordell read part of the serial number on a dollar bill. Players in the studio—and viewers at home—won prizes if they had a dollar bill with matching numbers. Because of the large number of bills in circulation, there were rarely any winners on Lucky Partners.
CELEBRITY BOWLING (1971)
That’s pretty much it: Celebrities came on and bowled. Frequent guests included Telly Savalas, Roy Rogers, Bobby Darin, Carroll O’Connor, and Sammy Davis Jr. Amazingly, the show ran for seven years and inspired a similar show called Celebrity Tennis in 1974.
BALANCE YOUR BUDGET (1952)
Between segments by financial experts who provided budgeting techniques and home economics tips, housewives who were in debt competed to win a treasure chest full of cash.
THE GRUDGE MATCH (1991)
Real people came on to settle a dispute or disagreement in a boxing ring, using “weapons” such as oversized boxing gloves, cream pies, and water balloons. At the end of the show the studio audience voted on a winner.
Contestants tried to answer questions correctly. If they didn’t, the opposing team got to smash the losing team’s prized possessions with a sledgehammer.
Led by host Vincent Price, two contestants were placed in isolation booths, and experiments were conducted to see which person had stronger psychic abilities. After three weeks of shows in which no psychic powers were ever detected, it became a “news” show about E.S.P. (It lasted only a month.)