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Sixty-Four Dollar Question

Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 22, 2004

    A game show that has had various iterations on radio and television since it debuted in 1940 on CBS as Take It Or Leave It. A contestant would be given a series of questions on a topic. The first question would be worth $1, the second $2, the third $4, and so on up to $64. If a contestant answered a question incorrectly, they would lose everything. Later versions of the game show, particularly on television in the late 1950s, increased the pot starting at $64, and went up to $64,000. A $64 Question became a proverbial description of a basic question.

    References to the game show can be found in Herr Meets Hare (Freleng, 1945) when the Walter Winchell-like radio broadcaster notes that the location of Göering is the $64 Question. Bugs Bunny yells this to Red Hot Ryder in Buckaroo Bugs (Clampett, 1944) at the very end, when Ryder finally figures out that Bugs was the Masked Marauder. Grover Groundhog, in One Meat Brawl (McKimson, 1947) informs Barnyard Dog, after the latter has realized Grover is his intended prey, that the Dog is correct, which gives him one dollar, going on to ask if he would care to try for two. Riff Raffy Daffy (Davis, 1948) also makes a reference, when Daffy spies a warm, comfy window display that is the answer to his $64 Question -- namely, how to prevent himself from freezing. Rookie Revue (Freleng, 1941) uses the gag when a dopey soldier finally learns to count off correctly.

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