The Quiz Kids

The Quiz Kids

Joe Kelly

Born: May 31, 1901; Crawfordsville, Indiana

Died: May 26, 1959; Oak Park, Illinois

THE QUIZ KIDS

BLUE, ABC, NBC, CBS,, 1940-1953

The Quiz Kids, was a popular radio series of the 1940s and 1950s and was created by Chicago public relations and advertising man Louis G. Cowan (1909-76). Originally sponsored by Alka-Seltzer, the series was first broadcast on NBC from Chicago, June 28, 1940, airing as a summer replacement show for Alec Templeton Time. It continued on radio for the next 13 years. On television, the show was seen on NBC and CBS from July 6, 1949 to July 5, 1953, with Joe Kelly as quizmaster, and again from January 12 to September 27, 1956, with Clifton Fadiman as host.

The premise of the original show involved Kelly asking questions sent in by listeners and researched by Eliza Hickok and Rachel Stevenson. Kelly often said that he was not an intellectual, and that he could not have answered any of the questions without knowing the answer from his flash card. Yet he was remarkably kind and affable, and put even novice young contestants at ease immediately. The answers were supplied by a panel of five children, chosen for their high IQs, strong academic interests, and appealing personalities, as well as such qualities as poise, quickness, and sense of humor. One of the first Quiz Kids was seven-year-old nature expert Gerard Darrow. For the initial premiere panel he was joined by Mary Ann Anderson, Joan Bishop, Van Dyke Tiers and Charles Schwartz.

Other Quiz Kids of the 1940s were Joan Alizier, Claude Brenner, Geraldine Hamburg, Mary Clare McHugh, war refugee Gunther Hollander and math experts Joel Kupperman and Richard Williams. Panelists rotated, with the three top scorers each week joined by two others the following week; they were no longer eligible to participate once they reached the age of 16.