It's not fair.
Among the many kinds of fun that the internet has played havoc with around here is something that I've done from time to time over the years — concocting a really difficult TV trivia quiz. When I say really difficult, I'm not kidding. This stuff is super trivia. I'm not just asking questions like "Who played Rockford's Dad on 'The Rockford Files?" (Noah Beery Jr.) I'm talking about stuff that I'd have trouble answering myself.
In the digital era, of course, the answer is only 90 seconds away, at most. So in order to score yourself for this one, you have to give yourself a point for every answer you don't have to look up, either online or at the end of the column. Anyone who has to look up fewer than five answers is a pretty spectacular TV trivia expert, in my opinion.
One final thing: Don't feel bad about having no idea whatsoever about the final question. I only ask it because it's something a friend and I used to talk about over beers years ago.
So here is a quiz of TV super trivia contest for ultra-pros only. Good luck.
(Looking for the answers? Here they are.)
Long before there were "Star Trek" and "Star Wars," kids on Saturday morning had their own continuing space drama on TV to watch while their parents were sleeping in. What was it and who starred in it?
- What was the name of Johnny Carson's pre-"Tonight" game show? What was the name of the announcer Ed McMahon replaced on that show?
- Who was the star of "The Cases of Eddie Drake" and "The Files of Jeffrey Jones?"
- Who was the star of the 1955 series "Man With a Camera?"
- What distant relative of David Letterman in TV comedy did Letterman's first announcer Bill Wendell also work for?
- Who is the only major TV sitcom star on a smash hit these days with a Ph.D.? Can you think of any other TV Ph.D.s?
- How many times did Alan King appear on the "Ed Sullivan Show" between 1956 and 1969?
- What do "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" and "Hazel" have in common?
- What was the best known theme song of "American Bandstand" in its golden era?
- Farrah Fawcett played Harry Orwell's next-door neighbor in "Harry O." What was the character's name? (Hint: Wikipedia gets it wrong.) Who played the cops that Harry O (David Janssen) used to bedevil?
- Who was the best-known disabled series star in the '50s — and one of the precious few of his ilk in TV history?
- Everyone knows that the writers on Sid Caesar's early shows were an unrepeatable miracle group — Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, his brother Danny, Lucille Kallen and later Larry Gelbart and Woody Allen. When the first "Your Show of Shows" began, who was their wrangler (i.e., the head writer)?
- Who was the anchorman who led the city's first hourlong dinnertime news broadcast on Channel 4?
- Who was the only Channel 4 news anchor ever to be the touring drummer for Dizzy Gillespie?
- In April 1961, a miraculous syndicated TV show called "Play of the Week" actually showed Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" in a production directed by Beckett's friend Alan Schneider. Who starred in it and introduced it? (The series also brought to us "Medea"; "A Month in the Country" by Turgenev; "The Cherry Orchard" by Chekhov; "Waltz of the Toreadors" by Anouilh; "Juno and the Paycock" by O'Casey; and Shaw's "Don Juan in Hell" among others.)
- What American TV star was once the first basketball player who ever broke a glass backboard?
- What great American film director created "The Rifleman" with Chuck Connors and "The Westerner" with Brian Keith?
- Who was the first African-American to be a sportscaster on a Buffalo TV news broadcast? (It's still not exactly a large club.)
- How tall was Gary Coleman?
- Who is thought to be the tallest actor to have a prominent continuing role on a weekly network TV series?
- (The most likely impossible question. A world of credit to anyone getting it.) Name the two TV shows in TV's golden era that featured plotlines about one of the masterpieces of American outsider art: Simon Rodia's "Watts Towers."