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The Questions He Answered

March 2023
2min read

“Twenty-One” contestants first were told the category they would be quizzed on and then chose how many points they wished to try for. The higher the point value, the harder the question. Points were worth five hundred dollars each in the first round of play, rising by five hundred dollars with each succeeding round. The object of the game was to score twenty-one points.

Here are the first twelve questions Jack Barry, the program’s host, put to Charles Van Doren on November 28 and December 5, 1956:

1. World War II

(9 points, at $500 per point) . Lake Ladoga played a large part in a particular phase of World War II. Name the two countries whose troops opposed each other at Lake Ladoga.

Answer: Finland and Russia.

2. Medicine

(8 points, at $500 per point) . The necessity for cleanliness and sterilization was not realized until the middle of the nineteenth century. What is the name of the surgeon who introduced sterilization to the operating room?

Answer: Joseph Lister.

3. Fashions

(3 points, at $1,000 per point) . What synthetic fiber has almost completely replaced silk in women’s stockings?

Answer: Nylon.

4. Founding Fathers

(9 points, at $1,000 per point) . One of the first American statesmen to protest taxation by the British was a man from Massachusetts who said, “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” Name him.

Answer: James Otis.

5. Churchill

(9 points, at $1,000 per point) . Winston Churchill wrote a series of six brilliant books chronicling the events leading up to and including World War II. I want you to name any three of them.

Answer: The Gathering Storm (volume 1 ), The Grand Alliance (volume 3), and Triumph and Tragedy (volume 6). [The others are Their Finest Hour (volume 2), The Hinge of Fate (volume 4), and Closing the Ring (volume 5).]

6. Queens

(11 points, at $1,500 per point) . The wife of King Ahab was a cruel and willful woman; she favored the idolatrous worship of Baal and persecuted the prophets of Jehovah. What was her name, and what country did she rule?

Answer: Her name was Jezebel; her country, Palestine.

7. The Civil War

(8 points, at $2,000 per point) . Because of a disagreement with his commanding general, Ulysses Grant was virtually placed under arrest for a brief time early in 1862. Who was the commanding general of the Union army at that time?

Answer: Gen. H. W. Halleck.

8. Boxing

(9 points, at $2,000 per point) . Name the three heavyweight champions immediately preceding Joe Louis.

Answer: Van Doren answered James J. Braddock, Max Baer, and Max Schmeling; in fact, it was Primo Camera rather than Schmeling.

9. Movies and Movie Stars

(10 points, at $2,000 per point) . In 1954 the Oscars for the best supporting actress, best director, and best story and screenplay writer all went to people who had worked in the film On the Waterfront . Name those people.

Answer: Elia Kazan, director; Budd Schulberg, writer; Eva Marie Saint, supporting actress. (This was the round in which Herbert Stempel took a dive for his “Movies and Movie Stars” question about Marty .)

10. Explorers

(11 points, at $2,000 per point) . Pizarro was an early Spanish explorer who discovered and conquered an advanced civilization. Tell us the civilization he discovered, the country this civilization was in, and the leader of the civilization at the time of the conquest.

Answer: The lncas, in Peru, and their leader was Atahualpa.

11. Newspapers

(8 points, at $2,500 per point) . The grandsons of Joseph Medill, two of the most successful journalists in the country from 1914 on, were the owners and managers of the Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News . Who were they?

Answer: Col. Robert R. McCormick (Tribune) and Joseph Patterson (Daily News) .

12. Kings

(10 points, at $2,500 per point) . It’s well known that some of Henry VHI’s six wives fared better than others. He divorced his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and married his sixth, Catherine Parr, just a few years before he died. Name the second, third, fourth, and fifth wives of Henry VIII and describe their fates.

Answer: Anne Boleyn, beheaded; Jane Seymour, died in childbirth; Anne of Cleves, divorced; Catherine Howard, beheaded.

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