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Truth or Consequences, an American quiz show, was originally hosted on NBC radio by Ralph Edwards (1940-57) and later on television by Edwards (1950-54), Jack Bailey (1954-55), Bob Barker (1956-75), Bob Hilton (1975-78) and Larry Anderson (1987-88). 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 Television (1966-78) and Lorimar-Telepictures (1987-88).


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

On the show, people had 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) and had about two seconds to do so before "Beulah the Buzzer" was sounded (in the rare occasion that the contestant answered the question correctly before Beulah was heard, another question was asked).

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." During Barker's run as host, "Barker's Box" was played. Barker's Box was a box with four drawers in it. A contestant able to pick the drawer with money in it won a bonus prize.

In Action Comics #127 (December 1948), Superman was a contestant on Truth or Consequences ([68950]). The town of Hot Springs, New Mexicomarker was renamed Truth or Consequencesmarker after the game show in 1950, when Ralph Edwards announced that he would do 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 called The Ducksters featured Daffy Duck as the host of a radio game show called Truth or AAAAAHHHH!, with Porky Pig as the contestant.

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.


The syndicated Truth or Consequences became the first successful first-run daily game show (as opposed to reruns) to not air on a network, having ended its NBC run in 1965.

Truth or Consequences was the first game show to air on commercially-licensed television, airing on the first day of WNBTmarker's program schedule in 1941. This was a one-time experiment; Truth or Consequences did not appear on TV again until 1950, when the medium had caught on commercially.

On Truth or Consequences, Barker's signoff ended with the phrase, "Hoping all your consequences are happy ones."

Cultural references

Donald Duck competes with Huey, Dewey and Louie in a television show that resembles Truth or Consequences in a comic book. He prepares himself by reading tomes of trivia and ends up humiliating himself on air.

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.

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 also


  1. "Ralph Edwards," Current Biography 1943, p192, 193.
  2. Id. at p193
  3. TV history
  4. "Daily N.B.C. Show Will Be on Tape", The New York Times, Jan. 18, 1957, p. 31.

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