Thursday, July 30, 2015

Classic TV (?): Celebrity Sweepstakes (1974)

Since we're into thoroughbred racing season at Saratoga, I thought we'd take a trip back in time for a game show with a horse racing theme.

Celebrity Sweepstakes was a collaborative effort between producers Ralph Andrews (You Don't Say!) and Burt Sugarman (The Midnight Special), and stood out among the games with gambling themes, such as CBS' Gambit & The Joker's Wild, the latter of which ended its first run after being lapped in the ratings by Sweepstakes in early 1975. Jim McKrell served as series host for both the NBC version and two subsequent syndicated evening shows.

Sweepstakes was a rarity in its time because, other than NBC stablemates Hollywood Squares & Jeopardy!, the latter of which ending its first run shortly after Sweepstakes bowed, and CBS' Price is Right (still going strong 43 years into its current run), very few game shows would get through a year at the most. Sweepstakes lasted exactly 2 1/2 years (April 1974-October 1976).

Let's take a look at a sample clip from the series' final episode, October 1, 1976:

Jim McKrell would turn to acting to keep his career going, as he didn't do too many more game shows after Sweepstakes. His resume includes a guest shot on The Golden Girls and some movie roles.

Rating: A-.

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