Make That Spare

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Make That Spare
Format Game show
Presented by Johnny Johnston (1960-1961, 1962-1964)
Win Elliot (1961-1962)
Chris Schenkel & Nelson Burton Jr. (1988)
Country of origin USA
Running time 15 minutes
Original channel ABC
Original run October 8, 1960 – March 12, 1988

Make That Spare was a fifteen-minute bowling program that aired on ABC from October 8, 1960 to June 30, 1962 and again from October 6, 1962 to September 11, 1964.[1]


Original version[edit]

The series was hosted by former actor/nightclub singer Johnny Johnston in all but the 1961-1962 season, where Win Elliot hosted.

The program always followed weekly network broadcasts of 10-round boxing matches on ABC, hosted by the legendary Don Dunphy. The fights were broadcast by WABC, Channel 7 in New York City, beginning at 10:00 P.M. Eastern time. On most nights, the fights would last until 10:45 P.M. To fill the available 15 minutes before the top of the hour, ABC chose to air Make That Spare. If the fights ran late, Make That Spare was preempted. The program was broadcast live from the Paramus Bowling Center in Paramus, New Jersey.

The show pitted two professional bowlers against one another. Each bowler was given a series of spares and splits to attempt to convert. As the bowlers progressed, the spares became more challenging and the point values increased.

The spare in the first "frame" was the "dinner bucket" (2-4-5-8). Next was "the clothes line" (1-2-4-7). The third was the first split, the "steam fitter" (4-5). Next-to-last was the "washout" (1-2-4-10). Finally, the fifth frame featured the 5-7 split.

The first two frames scored 25 points each, each of the next two scored 50 points, and the fifth frame scored 100 points. The highest scorer won $1,000 (plus an additional $1,000 if he converted all of the first five spares) and the right to convert a "sweepstakes spare" worth a minimum of $5,000. In early seasons, the sweepstakes spare was always the 6-7-8-10. In later seasons, it was randomly selected but was always a more difficult split than any among the first five spares. If this spare was not converted on a given program, $1,000 was added each week until won. In 1964, making the sweepstakes spare won a Ford Mustang.[2] The winner of each weekly episode also earned the right to return the following week to defend his championship against a new challenger.

Professional bowler Don Carter made history on October 28, 1961. On that evening, Don became the first to convert the 6-7-8-10 sweepstakes spare. For his efforts, he was rewarded with the grand prize of $19,000. Carter made the same split four episodes later, winning another $8,000. Monroe Moore also made the 6-7-8-10 spare and held the program's record by winning nine weeks in a row.


The program was aired as a one-time special on March 12, 1988 with Chris Schenkel and Nelson Burton Jr. as the commentators, prior to that day's live PBA match on ABC's long-running Saturday afternoon series Pro Bowlers Tour. This special served as the pilot for ABC when they considered remaking Make That Spare as a series during the 1989 PBA season.[3] But the series never materialized.

Current version[edit]

A new version is currently being produced by the TVS Television Network at the Silver Nugget Casino in Las Vegas.

Episode status[edit]

The series is likely intact, with selected episodes viewable on TV4U.Com's sports channel.


  1. ^ "Make That Spare" at Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  2. ^ YouTube video of a 1964 "Make That Spare" episode, showing random selection of the sweepstakes spare and prize of new Ford Mustang retrieved June 26, 2013.
  3. ^ 'Make That Spare' set to strike again Reading Eagle, December 17, 1987.