1 9 5 0 – 1 9 7 5 (USA)
The granddaddy of all TV stunt games, Truth or Consequences, began on CBS radio in March 1940, switched to NBC from 1941 to 1950, returned to CBS in 1950 and 1951, and finally moved back to NBC from 1952 to 1957.
The game made its TV debut on WNBT New York on 1 July 1941, then had another experimental telecast on KNBH Hollywood in January 1949 before becoming a CBS nighttime series from 7 September 1950 to 7 June 1951.
Another nighttime version aired on NBC from 18 May 1954 to 28 September 1956 and then from December 1957 to June 1958, by which time it started an impressive daytime run of nearly nine years.
Each contestant had to perform an out-of-the-ordinary activity as a “consequence” of not telling the “truth” about a riddle posed by the host. A typical riddle went, “How many successful jumps must a successful paratrooper make?” The answer was, of course, “All of them.”
Most of the situations were humorous to the audience, if not the participants, but not all of them. One setup, for example, had a man agree to spend months on a desert island without access to outside communication. No matter what the challenge, however, contestants usually found themselves adequately compensated by money or gifts after completing their tasks.
There were also other segments, ranging from reunions of long-lost relatives to contests for the viewers at home.
Ginny Kruse, a mother of two, was an assistant to the show’s producer. Kruse also served as the guinea pig in predicting contestants’ reactions to the “consequences,” testing such stunts as drinking water upside down or telling the difference between a bald head and a watermelon.
Bob Barker successfully continued to host the show in syndication from 1966 to 1975. Among the nighttime network efforts, Ralph Edwards (1950-51), Jack Bailey (1954-56) and Steve Dunne (1957-58) flopped.
Attempted syndicated revivals by hosts Bob Hilton (1977) and Larry Anderson (1987) failed as well.