All American Ultra Quiz features 932 contestants who are competing in the most elaborate and expensive game show to be produced for American television. The game begins in Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, where several games are played to eliminate the majority of players and establish 84 winners based on a Japanese format called Trans-America Ultra Quiz.


NBC 11/10/81-11/17/81


Dan Rowan and Dick Martin


Jayne Kennedy and Richard Simmons


John Harlan


The show began with 932 contestants in Dodger Stadium. They were asked a series of multiple choice questions (for example, the first one was, "True or False: There are more chickens than people in the United States"), and contestants with incorrect answers were eliminated (except that so many people missed the third question, involving whether or not a skydiver would land inside of a particular target) that the ones who missed were asked a fourth question (and since the number of remaining contestants after that question was odd, one contestant who missed it was selected randomly to advance).

Round 2 was at Los Angeles International Airport. The 52 remaining contestants were paired off, and each pair played a game of Rock Paper Scissors; the winner was asked a true-or-false question. If correct, that contestant advanced; if not, the opponent advanced. The 26 winners got on a plane headed for Washington, DC; the 26 losers had to carry the winners' luggage to the plane.

On the plane, the remaining contestants took a quiz (sample question: "How much did the USA pay France for the Statue of Liberty?" - answer: nothing, as it was a gift meant for the 1876 Centennial). The plane then landed.  Oh, did I say that the flight was to Washington? Well, it was - but it wasn't nonstop; the plane landed in Little Rock, where everybody got off, and then had to pass through a "loser detector"; only the 12 best scores on the quiz were allowed on the plane. The other 14 went back to Los Angeles...on a decades-old bus.

Round 4 was in Washington; eight contestants advanced, while the other four flew home. That is, they flew home when they got to Dulles Airport, about 50 miles from where they were, and none of them had any money.  As a bonus, the first one to make it would get to fly first class, but the person who got there first traded the ticket in for a coach ticket so the four of them could fly together.

From there, the eight remaining contestants flew to London; six then flew to Rome (Paris was involved somehow; it may have been a prize for the six remaining contestants after the London round); four then flew to Athens; two then flew back to Los Angeles for the final.  Usually, the winners of a round would receive a bonus, and the losers a punishment; for example, the four winners in Rome had a dinner with the hosts at a fancy restaurant, while the two losers ate in the ruins of the Colosseum.

In the final round, the players, starting with the one who qualified first in Athens, alternated answering multiple choice questions, with three possible answers; the first to 10 correct won the contest, $100,000 cash, and a "bonus prize" of their choosing worth up to $15,000.  One of the final four wanted a copy of Action Comics #1 (the first appearance of Superman), and two others wanted to give out $15,000 scholarships. Second place got nothing, other than being flown around the world and avoiding any of the punishments the other players got.


  • The winner of this series was Craig Powers.
  • Dan Rowan and Dick Martin are best known for their sketch comedy show Laugh-In.

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