As a result of participating in a parlor game named Forfeits, legendary host, Ralph Edwards, had a light bulb moment and created the highly successful radio quiz show, Truth or Consequences. Edwards hosted the show on NBC radio beginning in March of 1940 and the audience was instantly hooked.
Truth or Consequences was based on the premise that the contestants either told the truth or they’d have to pay the consequences. The questions they had to answer truthfully were mostly bogus and the contestants were only given a couple of seconds to answer. Beulah the Buzzer signaled that time was up and they had to face the consequences.
The consequences for answering questions incorrectly weren’t always silly. At times the show would surprise a contestant with the appearance of a relative or friend they hadn’t seen in a long time. Many shows featured a military son or daughter who was returning from a tour of duty.
Some of the consequences were extremely embarrassing – like the show where a soldier had to call his girlfriend while another girl sat on his lap and spoke in a sexy voice as the girlfriend was listening. Many hours were spent behind the scenes on the Truth or Consequences set thinking of wacky stunts for the contestants.
In the comic book series, Action Comics, featured one of its stars, Superman, as a contestant on Truth or Consequences – and a 1950 Looney Tunes cartoon show cast Daffy Duck (of the show, The Ducksters) hosting a radio quiz show named Truth or AAAAAHHHH! Porky Pig was cast as the contestant who had to perform consequences for wrongly answering the question.
An interesting consequence of the show concerns a contest that Edwards announced in 1950. The winner of the contest must be a town in the United States that would be the first to be renamed to Truth or Consequences. A small town in New Mexico – Hot Springs – was the first to change their town’s name and win the contest. Besides the huge amount of publicity the town received, the host of Truth or Consequences, Ralph Edwards, would make an appearance in the town. Edwards made an appearance to announce the winner and continued returning to the town each May for its annual fiesta celebration.
Besides Ralph Edwards, other hosts for Truth or Consequences for both radio and television included Jack Bailey, Bob Hilton, Bob Barker and Larry Anderson. Truth or Consequences eventually became syndicated by Edwards and appeared daily on both CBS and NBC.