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
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 (1972-1975)
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 release March 20, 1972-June 27, 1975
December 15, 1986 – 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 on December 15, 1986 in syndication in the United States and Canada, where it was produced, and ran until September 11, 1987.

Both editions of Split Second were productions of Stefan Hatos-Monty Hall Productions. The syndicated series was produced in association with Concept Equity Funding Limited and Viacom Enterprises; the former company was responsible for the production of the show in Canada while Viacom distributed the series to its American markets.[1] Canadian television stations CHCH-TV, CFAC-TV, and CITV assisted in production of the syndicated series as well, but were not credited on American airings.[2]

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 served as the final round and determined the winner. No money was awarded for correct answers in this round. Instead, a correct answer enabled a player to keep control of the question and answer the remaining two parts.

Each player was required to give a set number of answers in order to win the game. The leader entering the Countdown Round had the lowest number, with the second place player needing one more answer than the leader and the third place player two. In the event of a tie, the tied players had to give the same number of answers. On the original series, the leader needed three answers to win (which could be accomplished in one question), the second place player four, and the third place player five. These numbers all increased by one when the syndicated series debuted, with four being the lowest number and six the highest.

The first player to count down to zero won the game regardless of their total score and moved on to the bonus round. All three players got to keep whatever they had won.

Bonus Round[edit]


Every new champion was given a choice of five car keys, which corresponded with five cars that were displayed on stage. The champion chose a car to attempt to start with the key, and if he/she was successful the car was won and the champion retired. If the car did not start, it was taken out of play and the champion tried the same key in another car if he/she returned the next day. If after four consecutive tries the key did not start a car, if the champion won the next game he/she received a choice of any of the cars on stage.[3]

In addition to the car, a retiring champion received a cash bonus. The bonus started at $1,000 and increased by $500 for each unsuccessful bonus round (originally $200 to start with $200 more for unsuccessful bonus rounds), resetting only when a champion won a car.


The bonus round on the 1980s Split Second utilized five screens which champions picked from to try to win the car.

Initially, a champion tried to determine which of the screens hid the word "CAR" behind it. If the champion picked the correct screen on the first try, he/she won the car and retired. If not, the champion won $1,000 in cash and the screen was blacked out if the champion won the next game. The process repeated until the champion chose the right screen, was defeated, or won five consecutive games, at which point he/she automatically won the car.

Later, the rules were changed. This time, all five screens were in play at all times and the word "CAR" was behind three of them. The champion picked which three he/she thought would win the car and they were revealed in the order in which they were selected, one at a time. If the first choice revealed "CAR", the next choice was revealed. If two "CAR" screens were revealed, the last choice was revealed and if it too said "CAR", the champion won the car and retired.

The other two screens hid a secondary prize, which was in play for the entire week. If one of those screens came up at any time, the round ended and the rest of the screens were revealed to see what was behind them. The champion was then given a choice to either return on the next show to try again for the car or to take the prize and retire. Initially only the prize was offered on the first day, but $1,000 cash was added to the offer later.

A second unsuccessful trip to the round saw the cash offer increase to $2,000 and a third saw it increase to $3,000. If the champion made it to a fourth day without winning the car, the word "CAR" was placed behind one additional screen to increase the champion's odds. If the champion managed to choose the one screen that concealed the secondary prize, he/she was given one last chance to take it and retire with the cash offer rising to $4,000. If the champion elected to return, a fifth win earned him/her the car.

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 usually 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 noted all of the production entities involved in the series. The American airings only noted Hatos-Hall Productions and distributor Viacom.

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 through the 24th, 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[4]); 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.[5]

The syndicated version is completely intact, and is currently owned by Hatos-Hall Productions and reran on The Family Channel from August 30, 1993,[6] to March 4, 1994,[7] and January 2[8] to September 29, 1995,[9] as part of its afternoon game show block. As of October 2013, GameTV is airing reruns.[10]

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 to 1973 on Nine Network, hosted by Ken James and later by Jimmy Hannan, and produced by Reg Grundy.[11]

United Kingdom[edit]

The show ran in the United Kingdom from 1987 to 1988 in the STV region of ITV, hosted by Paul Coia.[12]


  1. ^ Split Second episode 1, aired December 15, 1986. Game TV rerun, shows different closing sequence than American series reruns.
  2. ^ Split Second episode 20, aired January 2, 1987.
  3. ^ Split Second episode aired May 8, 1975.
  4. ^ http://j-archive.com/showplayer.php?player_id=1291
  5. ^ "UCLA Library Catalog - Titles". Search results for "split second". UCLA Library.
  6. ^ The Intelligencer. August 30, 1993.
  7. ^ The Intelligencer. March 4, 1994.
  8. ^ The Intelligencer. January 2, 1995.
  9. ^ The Intelligencer. September 29, 1995.
  10. ^ GameTV Split Second Broadcast Schedule
  11. ^ Split Second (TV Series 1972-1973) - IMDb
  12. ^ Split Second (1) - UKGameshows

External links[edit]