Two for the Money (game show)
Two for the Money is an American game show television program which ran from 1952 to 1957. The show ran for one season on NBC, and four seasons on CBS. It was a Mark Goodson-Bill Todman production, and was initially sponsored by Old Gold cigarettes. Humorist Herb Shriner was the host for most of the show's run, with fellow humorist Sam Levenson hosting the last season.
With the success of Groucho Marx and his show, You Bet Your Life, which aired on NBC, Mark Goodson was looking for a similar format that was as much a showcase for the host as it was a game. Two for the Money was just that, with as much of Shriner's homespun Hoosier humor as there was actual game play. But there was a game to be played, and its format was fairly simple.
In the first round, a pair of contestants would be given a category, and would come up with as many correct answers that fit the category as possible within a fifteen-second time period. An example of a category: "States whose names end in 'A'." Each correct answer was worth $5.00. The other important rule is that the contestants had to alternate in giving their responses. Round two was much the same, but each correct answer's value was determined by the amount won in the first round — if the contestants won $25 in the first round, each correct second-round answer was worth $25. The amount won in the second round would be the value of each correct answer in the third and final round.
Shriner had help in judging correct answers from Mason Welch Gross, a professor from Rutgers University. Dr. Gross would sound a buzzer should he catch the team repeating an answer or giving an incorrect answer. For a brief time while Dr. Gross was away, Walter Cronkite filled in. Dr. Gross eventually became the university's president, and namesake of its fine arts program.
Actor Walter O'Keefe and humorist and TV personality Sam Levenson served as Shriner's substitutes. Kenny Williams (who from 1960, until before is death in 1985, would be the "voice" of nearly all the game shows produced by Merrill Heatter & Bob Quigley) was the announcer.
In 1957, Ed McMahon made his network TV debut as the show's announcer. Milton DeLugg conducted the show's orchestra. Dennis James was primary sponsor Old Gold cigarettes' spokesman; Bob Shepherd was the pitchman for other sponsors.
Seventeen-year-old Tom Brokaw, governor of South Dakota Boys' State, appeared with the real governor of South Dakota, Joe Foss, in 1957. Together they won $1,225, answering questions mainly about politics (one of the categories was "state governors," and one of Brokaw's answers, as he recounts in his autobiography, was "The honorable Joe Foss of South Dakota").