Password Plus and Super Password

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Password Plus
Genre Game show
Created by Bob Stewart
Developed by Robert Sherman
Directed by George Choderker[1]
Presented by Allen Ludden (1979–1980)
Bill Cullen (1980)
Tom Kennedy (1980–1982)
Narrated by Gene Wood
Theme music composer Score Productions[1]
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 801 (including 1 unaired)
Executive producer(s) Howard Felsher[1]
Producer(s) Robert Sherman[1]
Camera setup Six cameras, later five
Running time approx. 24 minutes
Original network NBC
Picture format NTSC
Original release January 8, 1979 (1979-01-08) – March 26, 1982 (1982-03-26)
Preceded by Password (1961–1967, 1971–1975)
Followed by Super Password (1984–1989)
Million Dollar Password (2008–2009)
Super Password
Genre Game show
Created by Bob Stewart
Directed by George Choderker[2]
Presented by Bert Convy
Narrated by Rich Jeffries (1984)
Gene Wood (1984–1989)[2]
Theme music composer Score Productions[2]
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 1,151
Executive producer(s) Chester Feldman
Robert Sherman
Howard Felsher
Producer(s) Diane H. Janaver
Joe Neustein[2]
Location(s) NBC Studios
Burbank, California
Camera setup Multiple-camera setup
Running time approx. 24 minutes
Original network NBC
Picture format NTSC
Original release September 24, 1984 (1984-09-24) – March 24, 1989 (1989-03-24)
Preceded by Password (1961–1967, 1971–1975)
Password Plus (1979–1982)
Followed by Million Dollar Password (2008–2009)

Password Plus and Super Password are American TV game shows that aired separately between 1979 and 1989. While elements of the original game show format Password were modified for these two programs, both Password Plus and Super Password had the same general format with only subtle differences between the two.

Password Plus and Super Password aired on NBC, and were taped on Stage 3 at NBC Studios in Burbank, California. Password Plus was a Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Production and Super Password was a Mark Goodson Production.

Password Plus aired from January 8, 1979 to March 26, 1982, for 801 episodes (one of which was left unaired until airing on GSN as a rerun in the mid-1990s). The program also won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show in 1982. Super Password aired 1,151 episodes from September 24, 1984 to March 24, 1989.



Password Plus was hosted by Allen Ludden from January 1979 to April 1980, when he had to take a leave of absence from the show due to health problems. Bill Cullen substituted for Ludden during his first absence.[1] Ludden returned in May, but he left the program in late October due to further health problems; he did not appear on television again before his 1981 death. Because Cullen had recently begun hosting Blockbusters, also a Goodson-Todman production airing on NBC, Tom Kennedy took over hosting and remained host until Password Plus ended.[1] Bert Convy was selected as the host for Super Password's entire run.


Gene Wood was the regular announcer on both Password Plus and Super Password. Johnny Olson, Bob Hilton, John Harlan, and Rich Jeffries substituted for Wood on different occasions on Password Plus, including a stretch in 1981 when Wood was recovering from an accident. Harlan substituted for Wood in March 1979, and Olson substituted for Wood in 1980. Hilton substituted on a few 1980 Ludden episodes and also substituted in 1981 and 1982, and Jeffries also substituted for Wood during several weeks in 1981 as well as 1982.

Jeffries was the first announcer of Super Password and served as a regular announcer until November 23, 1984. After the first nine weeks, totaling 45 episodes, Wood replaced Jeffries as announcer on November 26, 1984. Jeffries and Hilton also filled in for Wood on occasion on Super Password. Wood whispered the passwords to home viewers from October 20, 1986 until Super Password ended.


The rules for Password Plus and Super Password were almost identical. Two teams, each composed of a contestant and a celebrity, competed. The object, as on the original Password, was for the clue-giving partner to get the receiving partner to guess a given word (the "password"). The giving partner on the first team offered a one-word clue, to which the receiving partner was allowed one guess; there were brief time limits for both the clue and the guess. Teams alternated giving one-word clues until the password was guessed, or until each side had given two clues (three in the early days of Password Plus until June 15, 1979). Giving an illegal clue (multiple or hyphenated words, going over one word, using over-expressive gestures, forms of the password, made-up words, using too much physical movement, etc.) forfeited the receiver's turn to guess, as did having clue-giving time expire without giving a clue. If the word itself was given away by any of the players, or a clue was ruled illegal after the word had been correctly guessed, the opposing team was given the right to guess the puzzle. If the word was revealed prematurely by anyone other than the players, the word was put on the board and neither team guessed.

Like the ABC run of Password, the first clue-giver for each password on Password Plus had the option to give the first clue or pass to the other team. Originally, the team that did not get the previous password was given the option, but this changed a few months into the run. This option was eliminated on Super Password, with the team that got the previous password given first crack at the next one.

Initially, the rules regarding cluegiving were the same as on all previous versions of Password. Beginning with the April 23, 1979 edition of Password Plus and continuing until the series left the air in 1982, two rules were put into place. The first disallowed any password's direct opposite as a legal clue (such as "loose" for "tight"). The second added a penalty to the game; if a team in control either took too long to decide whether to play or failed to come up with a clue before the buzzer, the other team was given two chances to guess the password. Super Password did not use these rules.

Password Puzzle[edit]

The new element of the revivals was the "Password Puzzle." Each password, once revealed, became one of five clues to a puzzle referring to a person, place or thing. The passwords themselves were not worth any money; only the puzzle affected the scores. A guesser who correctly guessed a password was given a guess at the answer to the puzzle. A password that was not guessed by either player was added to the board without a guess at the puzzle, and if it was the final password in the puzzle, the solution was revealed and a new puzzle was played.

For the final password in a puzzle, if the guesser was incorrect, their partner was given a guess as well. On Password Plus, the puzzle was thrown out if the partner failed to guess, but on Super Password, both members of the opposing team took turns in attempt to guess for the value of the puzzle.

Correctly guessing the puzzle won the contestant money; any remaining clues would be revealed and new puzzles were played until one contestant had enough money to win the game. If the solution to the puzzle was inadvertently revealed in any way, the puzzle was thrown out.

From To Goal Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4+
1979 1981 $300 $100 $200
1981 1982 $500 $100 $200
1984 1989 $100 $200 $300 $400

In 1981, the switch in celebrity partners that normally took place before the start of each game was moved to after the third puzzle. On Super Password, the contestants switched partners after the Ca$hword game which followed the $200 puzzle. However, on All-Star Specials, partners did not switch after the Ca$hword game.


"Ca$hword" was an additional bonus on Super Password played by the winner of the second puzzle for an accumulating cash jackpot. The celebrity acted as clue-giver and was given a more difficult password. If their contestant teammate guessed the password within three clues, he/she won the jackpot which started at $1,000 and increased by that much each time it was not won, without limit, with the highest being $12,000. If at any time an illegal clue was given, the Ca$hword round immediately ended and the jackpot was forfeited.

Alphabetics/Super Password[edit]

The winning team played for a cash prize in the bonus round, called "Alphabetics" on Password Plus and, initially, "Super Password" on Super Password.

The gameplay of the round was the same on both shows. The round featured 10 passwords beginning with consecutive letters of the alphabet (e.g., A–J, B–K, etc.), and the celebrity was always the clue-giver. He/she could see only the current password until the contestant either guessed it or passed. As in the main game, all clues had to be one word; the celebrity could use multiple words to form sentences, but had to pause distinctly after each word. For the period on Password Plus in which opposites were forbidden, this was enforced in Alphabetics as well. The contestant won $100 per guessed word, and the entire jackpot for guessing all 10 words in 60 seconds.

On Password Plus, the grand prize was originally a flat $5,000, with each illegal clue reducing its potential value by 20% of the total ($1,000). Later, during the time Tom Kennedy hosted, the bonus round was played for an accumulating jackpot, which started at $5,000 and increased by that much each time it was not won. Illegal clues still reduced the pot by 20% (e.g., a $35,000 pot would have $7,000 deducted for each illegal clue), but this was later changed to a flat $2,500 reduction in late 1981. By the final week, the 20% reduction had returned.

Super Password's bonus round was played for the same accumulating pot. However, if an illegal clue was given, the word in play was thrown out and the contestant forfeited his/her chance at the jackpot, but still won $100 for each correct password. Also, NBC imposed no limit as to how high the pot could go; the highest the jackpot ever got was $55,000.

Champions could return for a maximum of seven matches on Password Plus. On Super Password, champions could return for up to five matches.


Super Password held its only Tournament of Champions in 1985. In this tournament, the eight contestants with the highest amount of money up to that point competed (which were all females). The front-game rules were identical to the regular season with no Ca$hword played throughout the tournament. The first-round matches consisted of only one game, with the winners playing Super Password for $2,500. The semi-final and final matches were best-of-three game matches. In the semi-finals, the first win by a player gave the contestant a chance at $2,500 in Super Password, and winning the match sent that player to the finals and gave the player a chance at $5,000 in Super Password. The winner of the tournament won $25,000 and a chance to double it in Super Password. The overall champion, Natalie Steele, earned a total of $106,000.

Both shows also held all-star weeks with various stars playing for charity. The bonus round was played for $5,000 to be split between the partners' respective charities. Super Password's Ca$hword was worth $1,000 throughout the entire week. When played on Password Plus, a $5,000 bonus was awarded to the player(s) with the highest total. When played on Super Password, a larger cash prize was awarded to the player(s) with the highest total.

In February 1986 and again in September 1986, Super Password also held a week-long "Tournament of Losers," with Patricia Klous & Dick Martin, and Constance McCashin & Dick Gautier. In it, players (8 women and 2 men in the first and all ladies in the second) who had won nothing on their previous appearances returned to play in a week-long tournament. The Ca$hword was worth $1,000, and the bonus round was worth $5,000 all week long. Regardless of the outcome, all players in the Losers tournaments were guaranteed at least $100.

The Kerry Ketchem Incident[edit]

In 1988, Super Password gained a bit of notoriety when one of their contestants, a man named Kerry Ketchem, was arrested on federal fraud charges. It was through his appearance on the show that he was finally caught.

Ketchem, using the alias "Patrick Quinn", auditioned to be on Super Password and was chosen to be in the contestant pool. Eventually placed on the show in early January 1988, he tied a show record when he won a $55,000 jackpot in the bonus game; the pot had only reached that level one other time before. Appearing on the show from January 8 until January 13, Ketchem won a grand total of $58,600 in cash.

During his appearance on Super Password, Ketchem caught the eye of a viewer from Anchorage, Alaska who recognized him; at the time, the state of Alaska had warrants out against Ketchem for fraud. The viewer placed a call to the United States Secret Service, and word eventually was passed on to local authorities in Burbank, California, where Super Password was recorded. Thus, when Ketchem arrived at the studio to pick up his prize money, he was arrested on the spot for the outstanding Alaska charge as well as outstanding charges in Indiana and a federal warrant issued for him in California. It was later revealed that Ketchem committed insurance fraud by collecting on a $100,000 life insurance policy on his wife despite her being alive and that his alias was taken from a college professor of his, as he used the "Patrick Quinn" name to rack up $25,000 in fraudulent credit transactions.[3][4] Goodson ultimately reneged on paying him the prize money, saying he had violated the contestant agreement by misrepresenting his identity.[5]


Password Plus[edit]

Three editions of the Password Plus board game were made by Milton Bradley in the early 1980s. Milton Bradley made an eight-track cartridge version of the game for its Omni Entertainment System. In 1983, A version for the Atari 2600 and Intellivision was going to be made by The Great Game Company, however, both version were scrapped later on due to The Video Game Crash at the time.

Super Password[edit]

A Super Password video game was released for DOS, the Apple II, and the Commodore 64 in 1988. A version for the NES was also planned around that time, but never surfaced.

In 2000, a Super Password hand-held game was released.

Broadcast history[edit]

Password Plus was first shown at 12:30 pm, replacing America Alive. It would be relocated several times during its run between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm. On June 20, 1980, three other NBC game shows were canceled to make room for David Letterman's morning talk show. On October 26, 1981, Password Plus replaced Card Sharks by moving to 12:00 noon, a historically low-rated time slot, where many stations aired local news, while on other stations, it went up against Family Feud and The Young and the Restless on ABC and CBS, respectively. The show ended its run on March 26, 1982.

The program returned in 1984 as Super Password and aired in the 12:00-noon Eastern time slot. Although several stations passed on it to air local news or syndicated programming, Super Password remained in that time slot for its entire 4 12-year run. Later in the decade, though, NBC affiliates began dropping most of the network's daytime game shows, along with Super Password, causing ratings to slide. The show's final episode aired on March 24, 1989, the same day Sale of the Century aired its series finale. Super Password was Bert Convy's last network game show hosted before his death two years later (though he emceed a pilot for an ABC revival of Match Game in late 1989, but was too ill to host when it was picked up a year later).

Episode status[edit]

Both shows exist in their entirety. Currently, Super Password can be seen on Buzzr. Both shows had previously aired on GSN. However, certain episodes were not shown due to celebrity clearance issues that were out of GSN's control.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Schwartz, David; Ryan, Steve; Wostbrock, Fred (1999). The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows (3 ed.). Facts on File, Inc. pp. 165–166. ISBN 0-8160-3846-5. 
  2. ^ a b c d Schwartz, Ryan, Wostbrock, p. 213
  3. ^ "Luck Runs Out for a Winner As TV Publicity Boomerangs – New York Times". 1988-01-16. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  4. ^ "Game Show Winner Gets 5 Years for Insurance Scam – Los Angeles Times". 1997-09-05. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  5. ^ "The luck of Kerry D. Ketchem ran out the day... – Orlando Sentinel". 1989-02-03. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
The $20,000 Pyramid
Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show
Password Plus, 1982
Succeeded by
The $25,000 Pyramid