Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Queen for a day

How many of you remember the bizarre 1950s show, hosted by Jack Bailey, Queen for a Day? 

Four women were selected for each show, requesting a prize, such as a washer and dryer, to help them overcome some personal tragedy. They would elicit support from the audience by telling their sad story. Hankies in hand, they would sob as they recounted their misfortune.

The audience would then decide, via an "Applause-O-Meter," which story had affected them the most, and the winner would be deemed worthy of the title "Queen for a Day."

The winner won her prizes, and was bedecked in a sable-trimmed red velvet robe and a jeweled crown.

This was the most pathetic, ridiculous show of the 50s. It was also extremely popular and ran for fourteen years, into the 1960s.

Imagine, sharing your personal tragedies with the public, trying to outdo other contestants with your story, hoping to produce enough sobs to win the prize.

My younger sisters produced a fabulous and hilarious take-off on this show in our neighbors, the Bergs, basement. They invited parents and other neighbors to come view their show, complete with popcorn and chairs set up in theater-fashion.

My sister, Edie, played the role of "Mrs. Myron Tashisky," a fictitious name. Since "Mrs. Tashisky" was from the south, my sister adopted the appropriate drawl (Miz M-a-hron Tashi-sky).

Mrs. Tashisky had the most horrible sob story you could imagine. All she hoped to win on the show was a wringer washer for her eighteen children! Of course, her heart-wrenching story went on and on with great drama.

To further emphasize her distress, she unrolled and unrolled a giant roll of toilet paper (she couldn't afford Kleenex) to dry her tear-filled eyes as she recounted her distress, until there was toilet paper all over the stage.

Of course, Mrs. Tashisky won. Just to put your mind at ease.

Thankfully, we've come a long way since I Love Lucy (still one of my favorite shows, by the way) and Queen for a Day

But we have lost a lot, too.  My all-time favorite show, Andy Griffith, depicts a gentler, more sensitive time in Americana. I wish we had that back.

I watch very little television, preferring my own select DVDs to entertain me as I'm knitting in the evenings.  With two TVs in the house, my husband watches the other one, almost drowning out all other sounds with shooting, swearing, or engaging in....well, you know...

He likes action. The louder, the better, apparently.

I, on the other hand, wish for the 50s back. At least for the more tame television.

But definitely not, Queen for a Day.  That can well be buried in the past and stay there. Right along with The Newlywed Game.