This was the 2nd version of the game/quiz show “Twenty-One” that was named just plain "21" in the first version. The original version ran from 12 September 1956 to 16 October 1958 on “NBC” TV. It was also one of the 2 game/quiz shows that was involved in the “The Quiz Show Scandals of the 1950’s” along with the show “Dotto”. “Twenty-One” involved two contestants, each one sat in a separate isolated, soundproof booth and a host/moderator who asked questions. They took turns trying to get correct answers and build up points to total to a score of 21. For each wrong answer they would get a strike shown as a big X in a box and if they got 3 strikes like in Baseball their were out. The original version of the show was 30 minutes in length and was hosted and co-produced by “Jack Barry”. Jack would host, produce or co-produce many game shows over the years. His most popular one was “The Joker’s Wild” that ran from 1972 to 1991 that he hosted from 1972 to 1984 then was replaced as host by “Bill Cullen” from 1984 to 1986 who was then replaced by “Jim Peck” from 1987 to 1991. Some of the other game shows he was connected with in some way were “Juvenile Jury” in 1947, “The Big Surprise” in 1955, “Tic Tac Dough” in 1956, “High Low Quiz” in 1957, “Concentration” in 1958, “Blank Check” in 1975 and “Break The Bank” in 1976. Jack also co-produced two episodes of “Batman” in 1996 and one episode of “The Addams Family” in 1965. Jack had a Heart attack on 4 May 1984 in New York City and unfortunately did not recover from it.
Both versions of “Twenty-One” were very similar in all aspects, how it was played, the 2 contestants in booths, the hard questions to get to 21 and the winner going to the 21 bonus round. The only difference at all besides the host, producers etc. was the prize money was very much larger then the original. The questions would get harder and harder as the game went on and the contestant controlled the difficulty of the question itself. They did this by needing to get points to total to 21 and each question had a range of 1 point for a simple, easy question up to 11 points for a very tuff question. You could win the game by either being the first person to total your correct answers to add up to 21 or by choosing to stop the game at any given point and whoever had the most points at that time would win. The isolation booths kept the contestants from hearing each other’s questions, answers and how many points they were accumulating. A contestant also had what was called a “Second Chance” where they could enlist the aid of a friend or family member to help them answer a question. The eventual winner of the game went on to play in the “Perfect 21” bonus round of questions with 6 true or false answers. Most of the questions in this final round revolved around pop culture like Commercials, Movies, Music, TV etc. The host of this 2nd version was the very controversial “Maury Povich”.
Winners would come back each week to compete against a new contestant and if they won again their winnings would increase proportionately as well. When a contestant who had won had decided to leave the show to avoid losing all the money they had built up to that point then Maury would have a beautiful model and sometimes 2 come out with 1 or more tote bags. He would then take wads of money sitting on a table next to him and show the audience and then drop them in the bag. Once he got to the total amount that the contestant had won he would give them the bag or bags and they would be on their way.