Split Second (game show)

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This article is about the game show. For other uses, see Split second (disambiguation).
Split Second
Split Second Logo.jpg
Format Game Show
Created by Monty Hall
Stefan Hatos
Presented by Tom Kennedy (1972–1975)
Monty Hall (1986–1987)
Narrated by Jack Clark (1972–1975)
Sandy Hoyt (1986–1987)
Theme music composer Stan Worth (1972-1975)
Todd Thicke (1986-1987)
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 1,025
Location(s) The Prospect Studios
Hollywood, California (1972-1975)
Lakeshore Studios
Toronto, Ontario (1986-1987)
Running time 22-26 minutes
Original channel ABC (1972–1975)
Syndicated (1986–1987)
Picture format NTSC
Original run March 20, 1972 – September 11, 1987

Split Second is an American television game show which originally aired on ABC from March 20, 1972, to June 27, 1975. The show returned in December 15, 1986 in syndication and ran until September 11, 1987.

The show was produced by Stefan Hatos-Monty Hall Productions, and was distributed by Viacom Enterprises in its syndicated season. Tom Kennedy was the host for the original ABC version, with Jack Clark serving as announcer. When the show returned in syndication in 1986, production moved to Toronto and producer and joint creator Monty Hall became the host, with Sandy Hoyt as announcer.


Rounds 1 & 2[edit]

On each version three contestants, one a returning champion (or designate), competed.

Each question Kennedy or Hall asked had three possible correct answers. Some questions took a form such as "Name the three films for which Katharine Hepburn won the Oscar for Best Actress." For most questions, three words, names, or phrases were displayed on a board which acted as clues, and the question took a form such as "Pick a word from the board and give its plural." Approximately once each day on the ABC version there was also a "Memory Buster", in which Kennedy gave a list of items and asked which three of them were common to each other.

Contestants rang in by pushing a button on their podiums. The first person to ring in was permitted to provide any one of the three answers. The second-fastest provided one of the remaining answers, and finally the slowest player got whatever was left, by default. In the '70s version, the clues on the board were revealed first and contestants could buzz-in before the question was completed, whereas in the syndicated version the answers were revealed after the question was finished, and if a contestant rang in too soon (before the choices were revealed), he or she was forced to take a turn after the other two had had their chances.

Bob Synes, producer of the 1970s Split Second, took a very strict stand regarding contestants’ answers; he required contestants to guess the answers exactly right, meaning mispronounced answers were ruled incorrect, similar to most other quiz shows like Jeopardy!. When Hall took the reins of the 1980s version he acted as judge himself, giving the player credit for the correct answer if he/she mispronounced the answer or was close enough to the right answer.

Each player received money for a correct answer. The value of each answer was determined by the number of people supplying a correct response, and no money was deducted for answering incorrectly.

Round One Round Two
ABC Syndicated ABC Syndicated
3 $5 $10 $10 $20
2 $10 $25 $25 $50
1 $25 $50 $50 $100

For example, if two players gave a correct answer in round one of the ABC version, each player received $10.

During the latter half of the ABC version, the first person to be the only contestant to respond correctly on a question during the first two rounds, a situation which Kennedy referred to as a "Singleton," also won a bonus prize, his or hers to keep regardless of the game's outcome.

Countdown Round[edit]

The Countdown Round ended the game. Each contestant now had a set number of correct answers to give, and the first person to meet his or her quota won, regardless of how much money he or she won in the game to that point.

The leader going into the round had the lowest number of correct answers to give to win (three on the ABC version and four on the syndicated version), while the second place contestant had to give one more than the leader, and the third place contestant two more. If two players tied for the lead, their quotas were set to the lowest number. If two players tied for second place, those players each had to fulfill the middle number. If all three players tied, they all had to give the lowest number.

If a contestant rang in and got an answer right, he or she could continue on and answer the other two parts of the question. On the ABC version, a contestant who led at the beginning of the Countdown Round could win by answering just one full set of questions. An incorrect answer gave the other two players a chance to answer, depending again on how fast they rang in. The winner advanced to the bonus round, while the losers took home whatever they earned and consolation prizes.

Bonus Round[edit]

The prize for the bonus round on both versions was a car, but the rules were different on each version.


For winning their first match, each new champion was given a choice of five car keys. The chosen key would start one of five cars on the stage, and the champion would choose the one car he/she thought corresponded with the key. Each time the champion chose incorrectly, a car would be removed from play and he/she would try the key in another car if the champion won again. If the champion picked the right car, he/she won it and retired undefeated. Winning five games without having yet won a car earned the champion his/her choice of the five cars.

In addition, any champion who won a car received a cash jackpot. Initially this jackpot started at $200 and increased by that amount each time a car was not won. Later, the bonus started at $1,000 and increased by $500 for each time a car went unclaimed.


The 1980s revival featured two different bonus rounds.

The first version, used for the first few weeks, had the contestant face five screens. One of them had "CAR" hidden behind it, while the others had $1,000 behind them. The champion chose a screen and if "CAR" was behind it he/she retired with the car. For each successive trip to the bonus round, any screen that was previously selected was turned off to help improve the champion's odds. Should a champion reach a fifth day without winning the car, a win in the main game automatically won the car.

Following a week in which four out of five champions won the car, the second version was introduced. The same five screens were used, but this time three said "CAR" behind them while the others hid a secondary prize such as a fur coat or a vacation. The champion chose three screens to start, which were revealed one at a time. If the champion found all three "CAR" screens, then he/she won the car and retired. If at any point the other prize was uncovered, the round ended. If a champion made it to a fourth day and still had yet to win the car, one additional "CAR" screen was added.

If after the first attempt at the round the champion did not win the car, he/she was given the choice to retire with the prize and $1,000 cash or return the next day (originally the cash was not offered on the first day). $1,000 more was added to the offer for each of the next three days if the champion still had not won the car. If the champion won a fifth game, as before, the car was his/hers to keep.

Broadcast history[edit]

ABC, 1972–1975[edit]

Split Second occupied only one timeslot during its three-year run, 12:30 PM (11:30 AM, Central), against the traditional CBS favorite Search for Tomorrow and NBC's The Who, What, or Where Game. It displaced Password, which moved ahead a half hour. Although never able to surmount Search, Split Second kept a large number of affiliates on the network at that hour (preemptions, mostly for local newscasts, had plagued ABC for years). Within two years, NBC replaced 3W's with a succession of short-lived games.

Split Second's 1972 entry completed ABC's most successful block of daytime game shows, which included Password, The Newlywed Game, The Dating Game, and Let's Make a Deal, a lineup which lasted for nearly two years.

However, the decline of its lead-in, Password, began to adversely affect the Nielsens of Split Second, and it was one of four game shows ABC cancelled between June 27 and July 4, 1975. After a week of 60-minute episodes of the soap opera All My Children, Split Second was succeeded by another soap, Ryan's Hope.

The winning contestant on the final episode lost the bonus game but was awarded the car anyway, since he would have no opportunity to try again on a future show; the final $1,000 cash jackpot was split between the two runner-up contestants (one of whom was future ABC News and CNN correspondent Judd Rose).

Syndicated, 1986–1987[edit]

After an eleven-year hiatus, Hatos and Hall decided to revive Split Second and Hall, who had just finished hosting The All New Let's Make a Deal, chose to host this edition of his previous hit production.

The show aired simultaneously in the United States and Canada upon its premiere, but many more Canadian markets cleared Split Second than their American counterparts (although it was cleared in at least one major market, New York). With the reappearance of episodes on Canada's GameTV, there have emerged some notable production differences between the episodes that were aired for the Canadian audience. These are listed as follows:

  • As the show returns from its first two commercial breaks, some trivia questions are displayed on the screen for the viewers. On the American airings, three questions were shown. The Canadian airings only displayed one question, with announcer Sandy Hoyt filling the time with fee plugs.
  • On the American airings, the bonus round is played immediately as the show comes back from its final commercial break. On the Canadian airings, Hoyt reads another set of fee plugs.
  • The Canadian airings also have several other production entities involved that are listed following the Hatos-Hall production credit. On the American airings only the syndicator, Viacom Enterprises, is mentioned.

1990 Pilot[edit]

A pilot for an attempted revival was taped in 1990, with former Entertainment Tonight anchor Robb Weller as host. This version was produced by Ralph Edwards-Stu Billett Productions (Billett having co-produced the ABC version) and featured the same main-game payoffs as the syndicated version.

The bonus round was completely different from both earlier versions: Three exotic vacations were offered, with a graphic for each hidden behind three video screens. Selecting the screen which contained the chosen locale's graphic won that trip for the champion.

Episode status[edit]

The original ABC version is believed[by whom?] to be wiped due to network practices at the time. Six episodes are known[by whom?] to exist and have been posted on YouTube: four consecutive episodes from May 19–24, 1972, featuring Michael Russnow (prior to the adoption of the "Singleton" and "Memory Buster" elements); an episode from May 8, 1975, with Marvin Shinkman becoming a five-time champion (Shinkman was later a champion on Double Dare in 1977 and Jeopardy! in 1986[1]); and the June 27, 1975 finale.

The UCLA Film and Television Archive holds 15 episodes spanning the entire run, beginning at episode #39 (May 11, 1972) and ending with the finale. [2]

The syndicated version is completely intact, and is currently owned by Hatos-Hall Productions and reran on The Family Channel from August 30, 1993,[3] to March 4, 1994,[4] and January 2[5] to September 29, 1995,[6] as part of its afternoon game show block. As of October 2013, GameTV is airing reruns. [7]

Two copies of the 1990 pilot are listed among UCLA's holdings, with different recording dates.

International versions[edit]


The show ran in Australia from 1972-1973 on Nine Network, hosted by Ken James and later by Jimmy Hannan, and produced by Reg Grundy.[8]

United Kingdom[edit]

The show ran in the United Kingdom from 1987-1988 in the STV region of ITV, hosted by Paul Coia.[9]


  1. ^ http://j-archive.com/showplayer.php?player_id=1291
  2. ^ "UCLA Library Catalog - Titles". Search results for "split second". UCLA Library.
  3. ^ The Intelligencer. August 30, 1993.
  4. ^ The Intelligencer. March 4, 1994.
  5. ^ The Intelligencer. January 2, 1995.
  6. ^ The Intelligencer. September 29, 1995.
  7. ^ GameTV Split Second Broadcast Schedule
  8. ^ Split Second (TV Series 1972-1973) - IMDb
  9. ^ Split Second (1) - UKGameshows

External links[edit]