Jackpot Bowling

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Jackpot Bowling
Directed by David Brown (1960-61)
Presented by Leo Durocher (January 1959)
Mel Allen (January – April 1959, October 1959 – April 1960)
Bud Palmer (April – October 1959, April – June 1960)
Milton Berle (1960-1961)
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
Production
Producer(s) Buddy Arnold (1960-61)
Running time 15 minutes(1959-60)
30 minutes (1960-61)
Production company(s) NBC Productions (1959–1960)
Sagebrush/Bayuk Productions (1960–1961)
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Original run January 9, 1959 – March 13, 1961

Jackpot Bowling (also known as Phillies Jackpot Bowling[1] and Jackpot Bowling Starring Milton Berle) was a professional bowling show on NBC from January 9, 1959 to June 24, 1960 and again from September 19, 1960 to March 13, 1961.[2]

Jackpot Bowling was the first national TV bowling show since Bowling Headliners aired in the early days of television (1948-50). Jackpot Bowling originally aired on Fridays at 10:45 PM following the Cavalcade of Sports Friday Night Fight.

Leo Durocher was the show's first host, but bowed out after only two shows and was replaced by Mel Allen.[2] Allen's lack of bowling knowledge made him an unpopular host, however.[3][4] On April 10, 1959 Bud Palmer became the show's third host.[5]

Allen returned in October 1959 and remained with the show until April 1960, after which Palmer returned and hosted through June.

The show was put on a brief hiatus after the June 24, 1960 episode, as its Cavalcade of Sports lead-in had ended its run on NBC. When it returned on September 19, 1960, a retooled version hit the airwaves; the series not only moved to Monday nights at 10:30, Brunswick became a co-sponsor with Bayuk's Phillies Cigars, the Hollywood Legion Lanes replaced Wayne, New Jersey's T-Bowl as the show's venue, and Milton Berle took over as host[6] with Chick Hearn providing play-by-play. The show now ran 30 minutes, and the professional bowler challenges were supplemented with a late-night-style monologue from Berle and segments of celebrities being interviewed by Berle and then rolling a shot for charity.

Although the show now had a very popular performer as emcee (Berle) and celebrity guests, the series would only run another six months – ending for good on March 13, 1961.

Gameplay[edit]

Two players competed to bowl up to nine strikes. After each bowler took 9 turns, the player who bowled the most strikes won $1,000. Any player who rolled six strikes in a row won a jackpot which, in the earlier seasons, started at $5,000 and increased $1,000 each week it was not won. In the final season hosted by Milton Berle, the jackpot started at $25,000 and $5,000 was added each week that it was not broken.

Episode status[edit]

The show's status is unknown. Five Berle episodes exist, including the January 2, 1961 episode on which Detroit's Therm Gibson won a record $75,000 jackpot,[7] the January 16 episode with British sex symbol Diana Dors bowling (and her husband Richard Dawson in the audience), and the January 23 episode where comic Harry Ritz bowled himself down the lane and got a strike.[8]

References[edit]