1 9 5 5 – 1 9 6 0 (USA)
206 x 30 minute episodes
Each week, never-seen billionaire John Beresford Tipton (Paul Frees) had his secretary Michael Anthony (Marvin Miller) present a million-dollar cashier’s cheque to an individual.
The drama was provided by the reactions and plans of the recipients.
The only catch for recipients was that they were told never to reveal where they received the money from, nor to search for the donor – or they would forfeit the gift.
Despite disclaimers featured in each segment of the series emphasising that persons and situations featured in the program were fictitious, Millionaire‘s viewers refused to acknowledge that no such man as billionaire philanthropist John Beresford Tipton existed.
Actor Marvin Miller answered all fan mail personally, explaining assiduously to charity seekers that the series was intended as entertainment and that there really was no such philanthropist as Tipton to give away million-dollar cash bonuses.
In 1960, he averaged about 400 letters per week, about 75% of which requested one million dollars or any portion thereof.
John Beresford Tipton