Robert Redford didn't have to do too much research for his hit 1994 movie QUIZ SHOW - he was once a contestant on a forgotten TV challenge.
Speaking as part of last weekend's (07-08Jan11) New York Times 10th Annual Celebration of the Arts, Arts & Leisure Weekend, the movie icon told fans of his little-known TV appearance way back when he was a struggling actor with a wife and child to support.
He recalled, "I was in a quiz show, Play Your Hunch, when I was a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. It was pretty embarrassing.
"They were casting for a quiz show and, at the time, I had a wife who was pregnant and no money, so I went down there to get a job. Play Your Hunch was with Merv Griffin and it was in black and white. The casting guy said to me, 'You look OK, what do you do?' I said, 'I'm an actor,' and he said, 'No, you can't be that, what do you do?' I said, 'I started out as an artist,' and he said, 'That's good...' and I got the job.
"It paid 75 bucks, which, at the time, would go a long way. I got all excited and made the mistake of sending the word out to friends that I'm gonna be on TV on Play Your Hunch. I go on the show but I forgot to ask what I was gonna do. There were three screens with a letter over each screen and I was behind one. There was a guy in front of the screen and one of us behind the screen is his twin brother.
"I said, 'Well that's not gonna be me!' and thought, 'This is shaping up to be kind of awful'. Then the show starts and it went so downhill with Merv bouncing around. I felt it was so totally phony and it felt so staged. There was a guy running up and down the footlights getting people to laugh and I was just caving inside and getting madder and madder.
"The announcer says, 'One of these people behind the screen is this guy's twin brother. Who is it? Is it X?' which was my thing, and the light goes on and my silhouette shows up and people booed. My first experience in showbusiness and I got booed for doing nothing! When Merv comes bouncing over to me... and questioned me I was just short of wanting to weigh into the guy (hit him)."