|Jack Kelly (1969-1971)|
Joe Garagiola (1971-1974)
Jim Perry (1983-1989)
Rossi Morreale (2007-2008)
|Madelyn Sanders (1969-1974)|
Barbara Lyon (1969-1971)
Kit Dougherty (1971-1974)
Sally Julian (1983)
Lee Menning (1983-1984)
Lou Mulford (1984, sub for Lee)
Summer Robin Bartholomew (1984-1989)
|Bill Wendell (1969-1974)|
Jay Stewart (1983-1988)
Don Morrow (1988-1989)
Rolonda Watts (2007-2008)
Syndication (Weekly): 9/10/1973 - 9/13/1974
NBC Daytime: 1/3/1983 - 3/24/1989
Syndication (Daily): 1/7/1985 - 5/12/1986
MNT: 9/15/2007 (2 sneak previews)
Syndication (Daily): 9/10/2007 - 5/23/2008
|Jones/Howard Productions (1969-1974)|
Reg Grundy Productions (1983-1989)
Fremantlemedia North America (2007-2008)
|Screen Gems (1973-1974)|
Genesis Entertainment (1985-1986)
20th Television (2007-2008)
Sale of the Century was a long-running American quiz show mixed in with shopping.
The format centered around three contestants answering general knowledge questions, buying prizes at a low cost, and attempting to win a huge cash jackpot and other big-ticket items, including trips, cars, furs and other luxury merchandise.
Three contestants (one a returning champion) were given $20 to start. The host asked a series of questions, all of which were toss-ups, and only one person can answer each one. The first contestant to buzz-in with a correct answer gets $5, but an incorrect answer loses $5. In the 1969-74 version, the players were given $25 to start, and the questions increased in value throughout the game from $5, to $10, to $15 each. From 1973-1974, the game was played with two couples; each started with $20 and the $15 questions were replaced by five $20 questions. On the Temptation revival, the contestants' scores were known as "Temptation dollars (T$)".
During the game, the player in the lead (originally all three contestants) or contestants who were tied was given a chance to buy a special prize for a bargain price. To buy the prize, the contestant must hit his/her buzzer; doing so won the prize which became his/hers to keep win or lose, but the bargain value of the prize was deducted from his/her score. On the original version, if a player buzzed in before the prize was revealed, the sale price was deducted from his/her score without buying the prize. Jim Perry usually tempted the contestant by offering some extra cash and/or lowering the bargain price of the prize, and afterward he said, "Going once, Going twice." If the contestant did not ring in, he said, “No sale.” Sometimes instant bargains offered "Sale Surprises", which were bonus cash amounts ranging from about $500 to $1,000, and the contestant who bought the prize got the bonus cash. The surprise would only be revealed either after the player bought the prize, or after Jim said, “No sale.”
During the 1985-1986 syndicated run, the typical values of Instant Bargains were accordingly:
- First: $300-800, "yours today for only" $5-6.
- Second: $600-1,500, "yours today for only" $9-11.
- Third: $900-2,500, "yours today for only" $14-16.
By mid-1986 on the daytime version, with Instant Cash played as the third Instant Bargain, the first segment could be worth as much as $1,500 and the second sometimes was as much as $3,000.
Beginning in March 1986, the third Instant Bargain was replaced with the new Instant Cash. The player in the lead faced three black boxes numbered 1, 2 and 3. Two of them had $100 bills while the one remaining one contained a cash jackpot which started at $1,000 plus $1,000 more for every day it's not won. To play, the player in the lead must surrender his/her lead (the price was the difference between the leader and the second place player). In case of a tie for the lead, a dutch auction was held between those players. If he/she decided to play (by hitting his/her buzzer) or whoever decided to play, the player selected one of the boxes and whatever the amount inside was his/hers to keep.
Temptation's Instant CashEdit
The Temptation revival's Instant Cash was different from the 80s show; the boxes were replaced with wallets (red, white & brown), and the jackpot started at $500 and grew by that amount until won with a maximum of $5,000.
There was no Fame Game in the original version; it was added when the show returned in 1983.
80s Fame GameEdit
In the 80s version, and in all three rounds, all three players got to participate in the Fame Game. The host read a "Who am I?"-typed question in which the clues get easier as time progressed. The first player to buzz in had a chance to answer. An incorrect answer forced that player to sit out the rest of the question without money penalties. The first contestant to buzz in with a correct answer faced a game board with nine numbers (1-9). Behind those numbers were cash awards, prizes, surprises and Money Cards ($10, $15, and $25; this was obviously taken from Jim Perry's previous show, Card Sharks) which were added for each round, there was an occasional $5 Money Card as well. The player in control chose a number, and whatever he/she found now belonged to that player. If a Money Card was found, its value was added to the player's score. Plus, at various times during the run, there were two spaces that gave the player in control to either take a cash prize or choose another number (one marked $400, the other a mystery amount between $1.75 & $1,500).
The prizes themselves ranged in value from just more than $100 to $500 during the first year; by 1984, all Fame Game prizes were worth at least $200, and although some were worth as much as $2,000, they mostly tended to fall within the $300-$750 range.
When the show started, the Fame Game board consisted of faces of celebrities (many of them NBC-related) instead of numbers. There was only one Money Card (the $25 Money Card) hidden on the board, and the rest were prizes. So finding the $25 Money Card early made the other Fame Game(s) useless since there were only prizes left. The other two Money Cards would come in the later months.
Beginning in October 1985, the board became randomized (ala Press Your Luck). Lights around the numbers would flash at random, and stopped when the player in control hit his/her buzzer. In addition "Mystery Money or Pick Again" was renamed "Mystery Money or Try Again"; plus, the Money Cards were revealed at the outset. Once the player landed the number and whatever the player gets, whatever's hit will be taken off the board for the next Fame Game to come after.
Temptation Fame GameEdit
In the short-lived Temptation's Fame Game, while host Morreale read a "Who am I?"-typed question, letters in the correct answer appeared on at a time (a la Wheel of Fortune's Toss-Up Puzzles & Scrabble's Speedword). There was no game board in this version; a correct answer won $15 to the contestant with the correct answer. Plus the Fame Game was only played once (though in an earlier episode, there was a second Fame Game with the value being $25).
Knock-Off (Temptation Only)Edit
The short-lived Temptation revival also had a new round called "Knock Off", which was played just like the 80s game show Wipeout.
A category was revealed, followed by 12 possible answers on a game board. Nine of them were correct answers which had money amounts behind them, while the remaining three were wrong, those were dubbed "Knock-Offs". The three contestants took turns picking off answers and each time a correct answer was chosen, the contestant in control won money behind the answer; but if the answer selected was a Knock-Off, the person who picked that was eliminated from the round.
Four of the answers (sometimes two) were worth $2, (sometimes) another two of the answers were worth $3, three were worth $5, one was worth $10, and one was the least obvious answer and was worth $15.
The round ended when all three players were eliminated or if all the money amounts were found (all the correct answers were chosen).
For the first year in the 80s version, host Perry would read three more $5 questions for a total of $15. This was scrapped when many games were already decided prior to this, in favor of the well-remembered Speed Round.
In the Speed Round, the host would ask as many questions as possible during the next 60 seconds (originally 90, 30 in the Temptation revival with two others played earlier in the game). Correct answers were still worth $5 in the 80s version, and doubled to $10 in the Temptation revival.
The player with the most money won the game. If there was a tie at the end, the host would read one final question (a Fame Game/Who am I question in the earlier months of the 80s version). A correct answer won $5 more and the game, but an incorrect answer cost $5 and the game. In the case of a three way tie, the first contestant to buzz-in and miss was out of the game. The winning player became Sale of the Century champion and in the final years of the show also won a bonus prize (originally a choice of one behind numbers 1-6), while the losers kept their final scores in cash in addition to everything else.
The "Temptation dollars (T$)" in the Temptation revival were not valid currency; so there was always a possibility that any losing contestant would leave with nothing except unacknowledged parting gifts.
The champion won a chance to buy a grand prize at a bargain price using his/her winning score. Six prizes were on display with the biggest prize being a brand new luxury car. The champion can either buy the grand prize which he/she had enough money to buy with and leave the show, or return on the next show with the money scored that day being added to the next day's winning score. In the 60s & 70s version and in the 80s version Tournament of Champions, (grand) champions can buy more than one prize. Occasionally in the 80s version, if a champion scored more than enough to buy the next prize in line while shooting for the intended target prize, then the champion had a choice of two prizes. In the Temptation revival, the contestant always had a choice of prizes no matter how much money s/he had. In the 60s & 70s version and in the Temptation revival, the highest the winning contestant can buy was a new car.
On the 1973-1974 syndicated series, the winning couple answered a series of questions worth $100 and could stop at anytime and buy one of three prizes (trip, fur, or car). Later, the couple must correctly answer three questions, the difficulty of which depended on the value of the prize; low end prize was $50 a question, medium $100 and high end $200.
During the first few months of the 1980s run, the prices for various items tended to vary, although $510 was always originally the goal for the Lot. By about mid-April 1983, the prices were "solidified" to:
- $55 - $2,000 to $2,500 prize
- $120 - $3,500 to $4,000 prize
- $185 - $5,000 to $7,000 prize
- $250 - $10,000 to $12,000 prize
- $335 - $20,000 to $25,000 prize (typically a boat, but occasionally other prizes)
- $420 - $35,000+ car (in the earliest months a Mercedes-Benz, later a Cadillac)
- $510 - From January 3 to May 27, 1983, all of the above plus enough cash to round out the package to exactly $95,000. From May 30, 1983 to March 1984 (when the Speed Round was added), a cash jackpot that started at $50,000 and goes up by $1,000 per day until won.
- $600 - Once the cash jackpot was added, $600 bought all the prizes and the jackpot ("The Lot").
Once the speed round came into play, the values were upped to the following...
- $540 (car)
- $650 (cash jackpot)
- $760 (The Lot)
Shopping prices (1985 Nighttime)Edit
When the syndicated series premiered, the prize structure ran as follows (with each of the first five levels below roughly corresponding to the same spot prize-wise as the daytime run)...
- $610 (car)
- $720 (all prizes)
- $830 (The Lot)
Beginning on January 28, 1985 (S-016), these were tweaked slightly, to their more familiar structure...
- $85 (unchanged)
- $530 (car)
- $640 (all prizes)
- $750 (The Lot)
Big Winners during the 80s shopping eraEdit
- Mort Kamins: Was the very first lot winner in either version, but the only contestant to win the $95,000 Lot in 1983. He later went on to win the very first Tournament of Champions, winning a grand total of $249,982.
- Barbara Philips: Won $151,689 in 1983. She became the first contestant to win over $150,000 on a daytime network show. On her final show, Phillips needed $116 to win all the prizes, plus a $68,000 cash jackpot, and she won everything in dramatic fashion, needing to answer the final three $5 questions correctly, thus making her the only player to win all the prizes and the cash jackpot, becoming only the second contestant to win the Lot. She was also the last one in the network version to win the Lot, as all the other big network winners took the cash jackpot and left.
- Kathy Riley: In the NBC daytime version in 1984 she stopped and took a $78,000 cash jackpot. She won it in sort of an anti-climatic manner. Kathy was $15 ahead of Bob, one of her opponents, as the game was going to the final three questions. So Bob needed to answer all three questions to tie the game, but Roger answered the first and Bob missed the second; Jim threw away the last and declared Kathy the winner. Kathy, of course, bought the $78,000 cash jackpot and left the show.
- David Rogers: In 1984, he won $122,084, including a $109,000 cash jackpot, the highest ever won on the show (his big win coming just two weeks after a previous champion, Dawn McKellar, tried for a $99,000 jackpot, but lost the game by just $2). Rogers was among the first big winners since the incorporation of the speed round, and later appeared on Jeopardy! in 1987 (under the name David Nagy).
- Bill Baxter: Another 1984 winner, who took home a $70,000 cash jackpot in somewhat dramatic fashion & left with total winnings of $85,256. Baxter had a total of $659 in his account the day of his big win, and would've needed to come back the next day and win with at least $101 to get everything on the stage, which totaled $142,855.
- Stephanie Holmquist: Stephanie first appeared on the show in 1984. She purchased a cash jackpot of $74,000 with her bank account on the show, turning down the opportunity to go for the lot. Her cash and prize total was $83,337. Stephanie had $723 when she bought the cash jackpot, and she would have needed at least $37 or more on the next show to win everything on the stage, which totaled $147,095. In 1985, she appeared again, this time in the Tournament of Champions, where she won $35,000 & a Porsche. Her total winnings were $152,897, which was the highest ever in daytime at that time, until her record was overtaken by Tom O'Brien 2 years later.
- Bill Fogel: In late 1984, Bill purchased a $61,000 cash jackpot, but not before winning the game with $145, setting an all-time main game record. He left with $66,459. Bill was the last big-money winner of the NBC shopping era and had a total of $721 in his account the day of his big win; a win of just $39 or more would have to win everything on the stage, which totaled $131,761.
- John Goss: Was the first contestant on the syndicated version to win the entire lot. a grand total of $156,339, including a $72,000 cash jackpot and over $8,000 cash accumulated during his reign. In his exciting final game, Goss had $655 in his bank account, needing at least $95 to win everything on the stage, and he won the game with exactly $95.
- Helaine Lowy: Another syndicated contestant, she won $142,974 in 1985 including a $64,000 jackpot. On her final show, Lowy had $703 in her bank account, needing at least $47 to win everything on the stage.
- Alice Conkright: The third syndicated Lot winner. She won $141,406 (including a $77,000 jackpot) in 1985, a feat accomplished in only six shows (the shortest amount of time it took anyone to do so) and won every single show with over $100, including a record $145 (tying Bill Fogel's record) win during one of her games. On her first show, she defeated Michael Friedman, who passed on all the prizes on the stage and needed $101 more to win the $72K cash jackpot. In addition to her adeptness at answering questions she refused to buy any of the Instant Bargains she had a chance to take despite the cajoling of host Jim Perry (which kept her scores relatively high). In her final show, Conkright had $660 in her bank account, needing at least $90 for everything on the stage.
- Tim Holleran: The biggest winner in American "Sale" history (notwithstanding tournaments). He won $166,875 in 1985 on the syndicated version, including a $90,000 cash jackpot (the 2nd biggest cash jackpot in history, 2nd only to David Rogers; biggest jackpot in the syndicated version). In his final show, Holleran had $707 in his bank account, needing at least $43 for everything on the stage. Two years later, Holleran competed in the International Sale Tournament of Champions, and was the United States representative in the finals. He finished second place to Cary Young of Australia, but won additional money during the tournament, giving him a final total of $183,373. NOTE: A young Kevin Nealon appeared on stage to congratulate Tim as do many others.
Super Knock-Off (Temptation Only)Edit
Super Knock-Off was played like regular Knock-Off except that it was a 50/50 split (six right, six wrong), the money amounts were now higher, and only the winning contestant can play. Any money collected in this round affected the main game score plus any money in the bank should the winning make a return trip.
Once again, a category was revealed followed by the 12 possible answers. The winning contestant picked off answers one at a time and each time a correct answer was chosen, he/she won the money attached to that answer. But if at any time a Knock-Off was chosen, the winning contestant lost all the money accumulated in that round. But to prevent this from happening, the winning contestant had an option to stop and take the money after each correct answer.
Four of the correct answers were worth $25, one was the second least obvious answer worth $50, one was the least obvious answer and was worth $100, for a maximum total of $250.
80s Bonus GamesEdit
In the later years of the 80s revival, the shopping format was dropped, and new bonus rounds were played.
Starting in October 1984 on the NBC version, and November 18, 1985 on the syndicated version, the winning contestant faced the Winner's Board. The Winner's Board consisted of 20 numbered squares. Behind those numbers were seven matching pairs of prizes (one of which was $3,000), and two WIN cards which constituted an automatic match. The champion picked off numbers to reveal the prizes; the first prize matched was the prize won. If at any time one of the WIN cards was revealed, the next prize revealed was the prize won. The two biggest prizes were $10,000 and a new car; they both appeared only once. To win either one of those, the player must first find one of the WIN cards, then find one of the biggest prizes. Should the two big prizes be left on the board, then only two numbers hiding those prizes would be shown. There was no bonus for finding both WIN cards in succession; the champion simply picked another number.
The combined value of all the prizes, including $13,000 cash, nominally added up to between $50,000-$60,000.
Once the board was cleared (all prizes matched), the champion must then make a decision to either keep all the prizes and retire, or play one more game for a chance at adding an additional $50,000. The catch in the latter instance was that the contestant, if they wanted the opportunity, had to put all 10 of the Winner's Board prizes up as collateral -- essentially, it was a form of the player competing against the house. (All front game prizes were not at risk.) A win by at least $1 meant claiming the $50,000 plus keeping the 10 Winner's Board prizes and retiring undefeated. However, if one of the contestant's opponents won, the champion lost all 10 Winner's Board prizes.
Based on circulating episodes and fan recollections, all contestants who took the risk won their final game. However, more than once, the final game came down to the closing seconds of the Speedround before the win was secured, and at least once -- in the case of Mark DeCarlo, in April 1985 -- a tiebreaker was needed to determine the day's winner; he won after the opponent he was tied with at the end of the Speedround rang in too early and gave an incorrect answer, costing her $5 and the game. Furthermore, there were at least two daytime contestants -- Jeff Hewitt and Margerite Newhouse -- who opted to walk away after winning their 10th game.
In the transition from the Shopping to the Winner's Board, the champion at that point was given the option to leave with the prize offered, or keep the prize and continue as champion into the new format. In both the daytime show and the syndicated series, the champion chose the latter. The champion on the syndicated show kept a $5,000 custom women's wardrobe (by French designer Ted Lapidus) and on the first syndicated Winner's Board show the champion successfully defended his crown (winning a Beverly Hills Shopping Spree).
Big Winners from this eraEdit
- Jeff Hewitt: One of the first contestants to clear the board, Jeff declined to go for the $50,000, leaving with $72,794.
- Margerite Newhouse: An early big winner of this format in late 1984, winning over $65,000, including winning a new Mercedes-Benz in dramatic fashion during her next-to last game with two prizes and four numbers left on the winner's board. Newhouse decided not to go for the $50,000 bonus after winning all 10 prizes on the board. During the debut of the Winner's Board format, she lost due to an error (Debbie Morris, the last winner of the previous bonus won that day), so she was brought back a few weeks later.
- Mark DeCarlo: His final game (in 1985) came down to a climactic tiebreaker. His opponent buzzed in early and answered incorrectly, which by default netted him the win and the $50,000 bonus, for a grand total of $115,257.
- Cindy Barr: Won $111,590 in 1985.
- Jeff Colbern: Won $123,753 in 1985.
- Jody Spreckles: Won $107,462 in 1986. She won her final game by $10.
- Richard White: An attorney who won $120K+ in the Winner's Board era, including $70K in cash, sometime in 1986. His wife Rani won $140K in the Winner's Big Money game era in 1988, becoming the only person to win the $50K.
- Linda Credit: In 1987, she won $140,457, including a $14,000 Instant Cash jackpot. She then played in the 1988 tournament of champions and won another $5,700, for a total of $146,157. One of the last big winners during the Winner's Board era.
- Tom O'Brien: The last big winner of the winner's board era, Tom won a total of $152,847 in his first eleven games. He was brought back for the final Tournament of Champions in 1988 and added another $20,217 to his winnings, giving him the then-biggest ever daytime total of $173,064.
- Curtis Warren: One of two Winners Board lot winners on the syndicated show. In January 1986, he left with $136,288, including $69,600 in cash; his Winner's Board take was $56,241, including a Nissan 300ZX. He would later go on to win $1.41 million on Greed in 2000, which at the time was the all-time winnings record (has since been broken 4 times, most recently by Brad Rutter). He also won $700 on Win Ben Stein's Money after he failed to beat Ben in the Best of 10 Test of Knowledge.
- Lisa Muñoz: Another big syndicated winner, taking home $122,551.
Winner's Big Money GameEdit
On December 28, 1987, the bonus was changed one more time. In the Winner's Big Money Game, the day's champion had solve a series of six-clue word puzzles within the time limit. To start, host Perry gave the champ a choice three envelopes (red, yellow or blue). Whatever the choice, the player started to hear and see the words of each puzzle appear one at a time; as soon as the contestant knew what the puzzle was talking about he/she must hit a plunger in front of the player to stop the clock (the clock started when the first word appeared). If the champ is correct, he/she won the puzzle and a circled checkmark lit up on the winner's podium. The champion can miss one time and continue, but two misses or time running out ended the game. The player can buzz-in and opt to pass without penalty if he/she can't come up with an answer. Solving four puzzles in 20 seconds (originally five in 25 seconds) won the champion $5,000 plus $1,000 for every return trip till he/she played the $10,000 game; and then the next Winner's Big Money Game was worth a new car. Losing that game meant the player left the show, but winning the car gave the champion the right to play one more game. Winning that final game earned a chance to play one last Winner's Big Money Game for $50,000. Two people made it to the $50,000 Winner's Big Money Game, but only one contestant (Rani White) won it, giving her a grand total of $140,011. Phil Cambry went for the $50K and lost in late October 1988. Veteran game show contestant Larae Dillman in January 1989 and Darrell Garrison on the last week of the show in March 1989 both made it to the seventh Winner's Big Money Game, but both lost when playing for the car. Sometime between late October 1988 and March 1989, the $50K plateau was eliminated, and a player retired after the played for the car, win or lose, as Darrell was told on air his last time playing the bonus was for the car.
The following are a list of countries that did their own versions of Sale of the Century and/or Temptation:
- France (two 1995 pilots that have never made it to air)
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
In Popular CultureEdit
Sale of the Century was featured in the 1988 film Rain Man.
Brief footage from an episode of Sale of the Century did appear in the 1986 music video "Welcome to the Boomtown" by the music group David & David. There is no certainty if footage was from the NBC or syndicated run, but it definitely aired no earlier than May 1984 because Version 2.0 of the contestant podiums, which first appeared in May 1984, were prevalent. The footage can be seen at about 1:49 in the video, and it appears the footage is from about the start of the match, plus the name of one of the challengers is Sarah.
The glass money briefcase used to represent the cash jackpot or $50,000 was also used on Sale of the Century’s sister show Scrabble during the finale of its 1985 Tournament of Champions.
In 2001, TV Guide ranked Sale of the Century #41 as one of The 50 Greatest Game Shows of All-Time. Prior to this, the show was also mention of "The 60 Greatest Game Shows of All-Time" as a list of "The Other 50" (in alphabetical order) in 2013.
In 2006, GSN ranked Sale of the Century #34 as one of The 50 Greatest Game Shows of All-Time. The special was hosted by Bil Dwyer. Interestingly enough, Sale (80s version) had not been on the GSN schedule (save for a few clips in a GSN special) until March 2013, when the network announced their acquisiton of 65 episodes from the 1988-89 (final) season, which began airing on April 1. The 1985-86 syndicated version of Sale began airing on the network in November.
To see pictures of the original 1969-1974 version click here.
Sale of the CenturyEdit
Milton Bradley era (1969-1970)Edit
Based on the 1969-1974 version in two editions.
American Publishing Corp. era (1986)Edit
featuring the "Quizzard" game system based upon the 1983-89 version of the show.
Video Slot MachineEdit
IGT/International Game Technology (2003)Edit
Released as part of their "Game Show Greats" lineup, its logo was based on the 1983-89 version, but instead of Jim Perry, Joe Garagiola (who hosted the show from 1971 to 1974) appeared in the game.
Unreleased Video GameEdit
The Great Game Company (1983)Edit
A cancelled video game version of Sale of the Century based upon the 1983-89 version was planned to be released for the Atari 2600, but since the Video Game Crash at the time, the project never got off the ground; therefore, it was cancelled.
Temptation: The New Sale of the CenturyEdit
Before commercial breaks, offers for products at discounted prices were advertised. These items were purchased online through the show's official site. The offers were originally separate items, but later became generic "60% off retail" plug offers.
1969 - Al Howard and Irwin Bazelon
1983 - "Mercedes" by Ray & Marc Ellis
1987 - Ray & Marc Ellis
2007 (Preview) - Used same theme as the Australian version
2007 (Series) - Unknown
Lyrics to Temptation: The New Sale of the Century Theme Song (2007)Edit
You can't fight the Temptation!
Can you hear it call?
The Best 80s & 90s Game Shows: Sale of the Century
Rules for Sale of the Century @ loogslair.net
Rules for Sale of the Century @ Game Show Temple
Josh's Sale of the Century Rules Page
Travis' Sale of the Century Rules Page
Another Sale of the Century Rules Page
A Blog about "Sale of the Century"
GSN's Press release for Sale of the Century
Official Pearson website for Sale of the Century via Internet Archive
Sale of the Century program description @ Fremantlemedia (via Internet Archive)
Sale of the Century Video Slots sub-site @ igt.com