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March 20: From Winky Dink to Tic Tac Dough

Lawrence Bush
March 19, 2017
Jack Barry (Barasch), who partnered with Dan Enright (Ehrenreich) to create television shows that ranged from the interactive kiddy show, Winky Dink and You, to game shows like Twenty One, Concentration, and Tic Tac Dough, was born in Lindenhurst, New York on this date in 1918. Barry met Enright while working in radio, and when television broadcasting began, they produced (and Barry hosted) several shows, including Juvenile Jury, Life Begins at Eighty, and Wisdom of the Ages. Their careers went into eclipse, however, when, in 1956, under pressure from their sponsor, Geritol, they began to rig Twenty One by providing questions, answers, and scripts to their contestants, practices they carried over to Tic Tac Dough (their most famous winning contestant on Twenty One, Charles Van Doren, would appear on the cover of Time magazine before the scandal broke). As master of ceremonies of Twenty One, Barry was not, in fact, aware of the rigging -- but he did help his partner in their cover-up. In the 1970s, Barry staged a comeback with The Joker's Wild, which lasted for three seasons. He died at 66 in 1984. To see a segment of Winky Dink, look below. "Everybody was doing it, not just Dan and. Every quiz show was feeding contestants the answers. I felt then and I still feel now that I was being punished for the sins of other people." --Jack Barry

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.