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Press Your Luck Winner
March 14, 2003 1:02 PM   Subscribe

No Whammies! In 1984, Michael Larson turned an ample memory and an abundance of free time into $100,000. How? By appearing on "Press Your Luck." And while the producers refused to rerun his episode, you can watch parts of it here in anticipation of the coming documentary and possible Bill Murray movie.
posted by herc (28 comments total)

 
That's a fucking awesome story. I used to watch that sorry show after school along with Jokers Wild and TicTacDough. Haha. 6 patterns total? It really didn't occur to them that somebody could have keyed on that?
posted by vito90 at 1:16 PM on March 14, 2003


That is incredible. Absolutely amazing.

I used to spend every summer morning between school years watching the show religiously. I never saw this episode or heard about it before. It looks like he figured out the patterns, or just got his reflexes down.
posted by mathowie at 1:18 PM on March 14, 2003


[this is metafilter]
posted by machaus at 1:38 PM on March 14, 2003


truly excellent post, complete with supporting links.

i think the show was revived recently (on the Game Show Network?) I saw it once. The whammies weren't nearly as charming as the original. Or maybe I'm not 12 any more.
posted by jpoulos at 1:41 PM on March 14, 2003


great link, and as machaus astutely observes -- great post. thanks.

[this is good]
posted by fishfucker at 1:42 PM on March 14, 2003


I've never seen this show, but man, the my heart was racing watching him rack up the bucks--the guy just seemed to be having such an unrestrained good time. Great post.
posted by donovan at 1:46 PM on March 14, 2003


Thank you for this! I watched a television show last week which had a segment devoted to Michael Larson, and I've been meaning to follow up on it. I had no idea there was a movie in the works. Bill Murray is actually a pretty good choice.

By today's standards, $100,000 isn't even all that much money to win on a game show, you know? Larson really had to work for that dough.
posted by iconomy at 1:49 PM on March 14, 2003


That was always one of the more bearable, even fun to watch 80s gameshows. I wonder why. Was is the Mad Magazine-Sergio Aragones cartoon tie-in? The bland, affable good looks of host Peter Tomarken? The Russian-roulette thrill of Pressing your Luck? Or something...else?

I still find myself saying "Big money, no whammies" every so often, and no one under 25 has any idea what I'm talking about.

Kids.
posted by gottabefunky at 1:50 PM on March 14, 2003


24 here.
Loved that show.
:)
posted by Espoo2 at 1:51 PM on March 14, 2003


The tail end of the documentary link is also interesting:

GSN also announced that it's changing the name of a reality series that will follow host Chuck Woolery at work and at home in Park City, Utah.

The show will now be called "Chuck Woolery: Naturally Stoned," after a Top 40 song Woolery recorded in 1968 with Elkin "Bubba" Fowler and the group Avant-Garde. The series is scheduled to debut in the spring.

posted by gottabefunky at 1:54 PM on March 14, 2003


look at that guy! bill murray would be perfect to play him.

btw, larson's story was linked to recently here; also some good "press your luck" info there.

what the hell happened to all the game shows anyway? i particularly miss family feud--now that was tv gold.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 1:55 PM on March 14, 2003


I still find myself saying "Big money, no whammies" every so often

i said that once when i was playing slots--and i couldn't remember where it came from. i thought i was crazy ('course i'd been drinkin . . .) this post has been a bit of redemption.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 2:00 PM on March 14, 2003


Family Feud is still on.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:38 PM on March 14, 2003


This is a great post. Take notes, people.

I always wondered if there was a pattern to the board on that show. I figured it was random, because it would be so easy to make it that way, and you'd have thought they'd expect somebody to work out the pattern if it wasn't. Guess not!

Anyway, Rob Lowe should play the game show host. He has the smarmy good-looks of a TV personality, and he quit his one steady gig, so he's got plenty of time.
posted by Hildago at 2:53 PM on March 14, 2003


Also, it reminds me of Joseph Jaggers.

Not thematically related, but I thought this was a good story about gambling.
[It's Realaudio though. Scroll to about 23 minutes in]
posted by Hildago at 3:10 PM on March 14, 2003


Wow. I first read about this a long time ago on Snopes. Surprised more people here didn't know about it. Love people who can beat the system.
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:13 PM on March 14, 2003


Please, somebody, for the love of God, kill off Family Feud. The new host has ruined the show beyond all belief. He's not funny, he's not good, and it's just wrong to see a fat man other than John Candy hugging the contestants.

I think I'll get the press your luck guys to make the passwords for users where I work. That why I'll always be able to guess what their passwords are. :-)

[ Did nobody ever think of a random number generator for that show? When they "fixed" it they just added more fixed results -- they never did make the show truly random. ]
posted by shepd at 3:17 PM on March 14, 2003


Cool story, but doesn't it seem a little thin for a full length feature film?

Then again, I guess Hollywood can make up an hour of semi-fictional background material as filler.
posted by pitchblende at 3:25 PM on March 14, 2003


Like some of y'all, I remember watching Press Your Luck! every day after school. This fellow's two-episode run is etched into my memory as one of my first indications that the Gods of Television were not omnipotent -- that some wacky individual could sidestep the carefully constructed boundaries of crappy daytime TV. (OK, not so carefully constructed after all, I guess :) It was at once sort of exhilarating and sort of scary. At that naive and impressionable age, Michael Larsen was a kind of a goofy, game show Zarathustra for me.
posted by UlfMagnet at 3:32 PM on March 14, 2003


I remember watching Press Your Luck, though my favorite gameshow is $100,000 Pyramid - mostly for the poor contestants who get stuck with the celebrity who couldn't give a clue to save their life! Anyone know why gameshows left Daytime TV? About the only place you can find them is either pre-primetime (Jeopardy and the horrid Wheel of Fortune), or in Prime Time itself (Millionaire, Weakest Link, etc.).

Actually, most of what passes for reality tv is just a game show in different clothes - think about it.
posted by owillis at 3:52 PM on March 14, 2003


He's not funny, he's not good, and it's just wrong to see a fat man other than John Candy hugging the contestants.

It was an Englishman, originally giving kisses. But yes, if you're going to have someone giving hugs...yes, John Candy. Now they have a new guy from, Tool Time whom replaced the fat guy, who replaced the other guy who committed suicide.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:52 PM on March 14, 2003


well i'll be. family feud is still on? what, do you need a tv or something to see it?

okay, i looked at the offical site you linked to, and seriously, it's not family feud without richard "kiss the ladies" dawson. this just isn't right.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 3:54 PM on March 14, 2003


It seems odd that they wouldn't rerun it. People watch these shows to watch some poor schmuck like themselves make it big. What's the fun in watching everyone average $1250 in winnings every weekday? That's barely airfare.

As far as the six patterns go, perhaps it was by design. The show's producers could alway put in their own guy to control the game and keep things from getting out of hand.
posted by skallas at 5:26 PM on March 14, 2003


Who what tooltime suicide what? Morbid details, please.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:03 PM on March 14, 2003


Morbid details, please.

the ray combs story
posted by goddam at 7:59 PM on March 14, 2003


Michael Larson seemed to me such a light hearted man, taking such joy in his winning, that it depresses me to read the rest of his story (investments gone wrong, now dead).
posted by o2b at 10:09 PM on March 14, 2003


With the hope of not seeing "the fat guy" again: Louie Anderson and the latest host is Richard Karn.
posted by ?! at 2:12 PM on March 15, 2003


holy cow! i just saw the link. thanks! i remember watching those episode with my brother! we still ltalk about them.
posted by tomplus2 at 9:44 PM on March 15, 2003


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