I have decided that as I am in my mid years to living to 124 that it is time to decide what I want to be when I grow up.  I have not succeeded at anything thus far.  Well that comes to the definition of success.  What is it?  I have no awards for any achievements so I am judging I am not successful.  I can do many different things as hobbies and crafts.  Still no lasting achievements.  Then it was decided the other day that I would become the “Master of Underachievement” or a “professional Underachiever”.  I changed it to Queen as it is ever so wonderful to be a Queen!

“Queen”!  Ahh she rules her realm.  She is in charge of everything.  Remember the show “Queen for a Day”?  Some of those ladies had the most horrid stories and the viewer was so happy for them when they got the washers and dryers.

Queen for a Day was an American radio and television game show that helped to usher in American listeners’ and viewers’ fascination with big-prize giveaway shows. Queen for a Day originated on the Mutual Radio Network on April 30, 1945 in New York City before moving to Los Angeles a few months later, and running until 1957. The show then ran on NBC Television from 1956 to 1964.[1]

The series is considered a forerunner of modern-day “reality television“.[2] The show became popular enough that NBC increased its running time from 30 to 45 minutes to sell more commercials, at a then-premium rate of $4,000 per minute.[1]

The show opened with host Jack Bailey asking the audience—mostly women—”Would YOU like to be Queen for a day?” After this, the contestants were introduced and interviewed, one at a time, with commercials and fashion commentary interspersed between each contestant.[3]

Using the classic applause meter, as did many game and hit-parade style shows of the time, Queen for a Day had its own special twist: each contestant had to talk publicly about the recent financial and emotional hard times she had been through. The applause meter had also been used on earlier series, including Fred Allen‘s Judge for Yourself a variety and game show which aired on NBC from 1953-1954.[4]

Bailey began each interview gently, asking the contestant first about her life and family, and maintaining a positive and upbeat response no matter what she told him. For instance, when a woman said she had a crippled child, he would ask if her second child was “Okay.” On learning that the second child was not crippled, he might say, “Well, that’s good, you have one healthy child.”

The interview would climax with Bailey asking the contestant what she needed most and why she wanted to win the title of Queen for a Day. Often the request was for medical care or therapeutic equipment to help a chronically ill child, but sometimes it was as simple as the need for a hearing aid, a new washing machine, or a refrigerator. Many women broke down sobbing as they described their plights, and Bailey was always quick to comfort them and offer a clean white handkerchief to dry their eyes.

The harsher the circumstances under which the contestant labored, the likelier the studio audience was to ring the applause meter’s highest level. The winner, to the musical accompaniment of “Pomp and Circumstance“, would be draped in a sable-trimmed red velvet robe, given a glittering jeweled crown to wear, placed on a velvet-upholstered throne, and handed a dozen long-stemmed roses to hold as she wept, often uncontrollably, while her list of prizes was announced.

The prizes, many of which were donated by sponsoring companies, began with the necessary help the woman had requested, but built from there. They might include a variety of extras, such as a vacation trip, a night on the town with her husband, silver-plated flatware, an array of kitchen appliances, or a selection of fashion clothing. The losing contestants were each given smaller prizes; no one went away from the show without a meaningful gift.

Bailey’s trademark sign-off was “This is Jack Bailey, wishing we could make every woman a queen, for every single day!”

Television writer Mark Evanier has dubbed it “one of the most ghastly shows ever produced” and further stated it was “tasteless, demeaning to women, demeaning to anyone who watched it, cheap, insulting and utterly degrading to the human spirit.”[5]


On September 8, 1969, after a five-year hiatus, a new version of the show debuted in syndication with Dick Curtis as host. The premise remained largely the same; however, this version only ran until September 18, 1970.

Viewers turned away from the format when it was revealed that, unlike the radio and earlier television versions, the new show was rigged and the “winners” were apparently paid actresses chosen to “win” the prizes prior to the start of each taping.

All this was going on behind what I thought was a neat show.  It came on after the “Millionaire” I think.  Seems to me I watched both show after school.  At any rate the “Millionaire” was another good show.  This would be a drama that lasted for a half hour and someone would be in need and the doorbell would ring and on the other side would be a man with a check for one million dollars.  The man’s name was Michael Anthony and the check was from an unknown benefactor who was really John Beresford Tipton, Jr.

Talk about your fantasy shows.  Long ago I determined that to live like a millionaire today the check would have to be for over $2,000,000 due to taxes!  Could you spend all that money at one time?  Today probably as you could simply buy a house. Not sure there were million dollar houses in the real world at the time the show was on TV.  Be fun to see this back on TV again.

Queen for A Day may just come back as it is still in the real world in Puerto  Rico.


Today, “Queen For A Day” is owned by Michael Wortsman, a media executive with over thirty years’ experience in television, radio and print media. The show recently aired in Puerto Rico with excellent ratings and is now being developed for U.S. Television. The original format has been revised and the show is now a celebration of women making a difference.

Only a few complete episodes remain of this classic television program. They can be viewed in their entirety at the PaleyCenter for Media (Museum of Television& Radio) in Beverly Hills or you can see clips here on our Queen For A Day classic page.

I decided I am the Queen of Underachievement and that is okay.  My house may never be spotless.  My clothes may never be all cleaned and ironed at the same time.  I may ever have a desk full of items to do.  A project room filled with projects in progress.  I may have plans on the books that do not make it to execution.  I accept all that as I have a glass shelf in my mind filled with multi-colored bottles of memories of a life well lived.

Perhaps I’ll not ever have any one achievement to point to and say that I did that.  This Queen of Underachievement will have had a wonderful time trying!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s