Truth or Consequences
Actress Buff Cobb as part of a 1949 stunt for the radio program.
Format Game Show
Created by Ralph Edwards
Presented by Ralph Edwards (1940–1957)
Jack Bailey (1954–1956)
Bob Barker (1956–1975)
Bob Hilton (1977–1978)
Larry Anderson (1987–1988)
Country of origin United States
Running time 30 minutes (per episode)
Original channel CBS (1950–1954)
NBC (1954–1965)
Syndicated (1966–1978, 1987–1988)
Original run 1940 – 1988

Truth or Consequences is an American television show originally hosted on NBC radio by Ralph Edwards (1940–1957) and later on television by Edwards (1950–1954), Jack Bailey (1954–1955), Bob Barker (1956–1975), Bob Hilton (1977–1978) and Larry Anderson (1987–1988). The television show ran on CBS, NBC and also in syndication. The premise of the show was to mix the original quiz element of game shows with wacky stunts.

The daily syndicated show was produced by Ralph Edwards Productions (later Ralph Edwards/Stu Billett Productions), in associated with and distributed by Metromedia Producers Corporation (1966–1978) and Lorimar-Telepictures (1987–1988).

Game playEdit

File:Ralph Edwards Truth or Consequences 1942.JPG

On the show, contestants received roughly two seconds to answer a trivia question correctly (usually an off-the-wall question that no one would be able to answer correctly, or a bad joke) before "Beulah the Buzzer" sounded (in the rare occasion that the contestant answered the question correctly before Beulah was heard, the question inevitably had two or even three parts). If the contestant could not complete the "Truth" portion, there would be "Consequences," usually a zany and embarrassing stunt. From the start, most contestants preferred to answer the question wrong in order to perform the stunt. Said Edwards, "Most of the American people are darned good sports."[1]

In many broadcasts, the stunts on Truth or Consequences included a popular, but emotional, heart-rending surprise for a contestant, that being the reunion with a long-lost relative or with an enlisted son or daughter returning from military duty overseas, particularly Vietnam. Sometimes, if that military person was based in California, his or her spouse or parents were flown in for that reunion.

During Barker's run as host, a side game, "Barker's Box", was played at the end of the show. Barker's Box was a box with four drawers, and if a contestant picked all three drawers with money in it, they won a bonus prize; however, if a contestant chose a pop-up "surprise" before choosing all three cash drawers, the game ended and the contestant left with the cash won at that point. Barker also ended each episode with the phrase, "Hoping all your consequences are happy ones."

Broadcast historyEdit

File:Bob Barker dec 31 1956.JPG

Ralph Edwards stated he got the idea for a new radio program after playing the parlor game Forfeits.[2] The show premiered on NBC radio in March, 1940 and was an instant hit with listeners.

Truth or Consequences was the first game show to air on broadcast television, airing as a one-time experiment on the first day of WNBC/WNBT's program schedule in 1941. Truth or Consequences did not appear on TV again until 1950, when the medium had caught on commercially.[3]

On January 22, 1957, the show, which was produced in Hollywood, became the first program to be broadcast in all time zones from a prerecorded videotape; this technology, which had only been introduced the previous year, had been used only for time-delayed broadcasts to the West Coast.[4]

In 1966, the Truth or Consequences became the first successful daily game show in first-run syndication (as opposed to reruns) to not air on a network, having ended its NBC run one year earlier.

Cultural references Edit


The program entered the lexicon of pop culture and has been referenced numerous times in other media.

In Action Comics #127 (December 1948), Superman was a contestant on Truth or Consequences.

The town of Hot Springs, New Mexico was renamed Truth or Consequences after the game show in 1950, when Ralph Edwards announced that he would host the program from the first town so renamed. Edwards himself continued to make appearances at the town's annual fiesta every May until his death.

A 1950 Looney Tunes cartoon titled The Ducksters featured Daffy Duck as the host of a radio game show called Truth or AAAAAHHHH!, with Porky Pig as the contestant.

On George Carlin's 1969 debut album, Take-Offs and Put-Ons, the character Congolia Breckinridge appears on a similar show called Truth or Penalties (although at one point Carlin says the original show's name). Because she has too little time to buzz in, when she is invited to pull back the curtain, an empty stage is revealed. The host then announces, "We were going to reunite you with your sister, whom you haven't seen in 27 years, but you blew the question, so we sent your sister back to Maine."

See alsoEdit


  1. Id. at p193
  2. "Ralph Edwards," Current Biography 1943, p192, 193.
  3. "Station WNBT Week of June 30th–July 5th, 1941". Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  4. "Daily N.B.C. Show Will Be on Tape", The New York Times, Jan. 18, 1957, p. 31.

External linksEdit

Template:Start box Template:Succession box Template:Succession box Template:End box

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.