1 9 5 1 – 1 9 5 9 (USA)
1 9 6 2 (USA)
30 minute episodes
Male contestants had to answer three questions correctly to win a small bounty of prizes for the woman who accompanied them. If the man answered a fourth question correctly, they won the “Big Payoff”, consisting of a mink coat (modelled by Bess Myerson) for the lady, a new car for himself, and a free plane trip for the couple.
The host for the first six years was Randy Merriman, who left at the start of 1958 to return to host a local daytime TV series in his native Minneapolis. Robert Paige was introduced as his successor and lasted for all but the last month of the series when Bert Parks replaced him briefly.
The prizes on the show were among the most lavish on daytime television in the 1950s. Over three years, the show dispensed 104 mink coats, 104 European trips, 62 new cars, and nearly $1 million in merchandise.
For its fourth anniversary celebration in late 1955, it held a six-week contest where contestants had to guess how many sequins were on a bathing suit, with the right answer netting a car, a trip to Europe, a diamond ring and a mink coat.
After six months in daytime, The Big Payoff went onto NBC’s Sunday night schedule in the summers of 1952 and 1953. Before the second summer run, the daytime show switched networks to CBS in March 1953.
The show was a ratings winner throughout the 1950s until the quiz show scandals broke. To quell any suspicions that the show’s large winnings may have been fixed in the volatile atmosphere of the time, CBS cancelled the show.
In 1962 it ran briefly in daily syndication with Robert Paige as host.
Betty Ann Grove, Denise Lor, and Judy Lynn served as featured singers at various points during the show’s run.
Randy Merriman (1951 – 1957)
Robert Paige (1957 – 1959, 1962)
Bert Parks (1959)