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Password (game)

From Academic Kids

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Although Password can be played without any equipment, commercial versions of the game have also been successful.

Password is a popular spoken guessing game that encourages deductive reasoning and creativity. The TV version was produced by Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions and invented by Bob Stewart, who also created The Price is Right and To Tell the Truth for Goodson before striking out on his own with shows such as The $10,000 Pyramid.

Contents

Rules

To begin, one player is chosen to be "it". That player thinks of a target word, which can be any word. Then "it" gives all other players a one-word hint. The hint must not include, or be a variant of, the target word. (For instance, if the target word was "doghouse", hints such as "houses" or "doggy" would be illegal, but "puppy" would be legal.)

Each other player in turn attempts to guess the target word. If no player guesses correctly, "it" continues giving one-word hints until a player says the target word. That player becomes "it" for the next round.

Television versions

 hosted a 1971–1975  version of Password. Seen are celebrity guests  (left) and  (right).
Enlarge
Allen Ludden hosted a 1971–1975 ABC version of Password. Seen are celebrity guests Carol Burnett (left) and Vicki Lawrence (right).

The game of Password was adapted into a successful television game show of the same name. Password, hosted by Allen Ludden, ran from October 2, 1961, to September 22, 1967, on CBS and from April 5, 1971, to June 27, 1975, on ABC. The show's regular announcers were Jack Clark on CBS and John Harlan on ABC.

Two teams — each consisting of one celebrity player and one contestant — competed on the show. One player gave the single-word clues; the other player attempted to guessed the password. If the contestant made an incorrect guess, the other team had a chance to guess the word. This continued until one of the two teams guessed the word correctly or until ten clues were given. Scoring was based on how many clues were given when the correct word was guessed, with the team earning ten points for guessing on the first try, nine points on the second try, eight points on the third, and so on. The first team to reach 25 points played a "Lightning Round" where the contestant tried to guess five passwords within 60 seconds for $50 per word.

From November 18, 1974, to February 21, 1975, Password became Password All-Stars, where teams of celebrities played for charity.

The theme song used on Password in 1961–1962 is called "Holiday Jaunt" by Kurt Rehfeld. That was followed by a catchy swing theme by Bob Cobert, which was used until the CBS version's cancellation. (Viewers would often see emcee Ludden snapping his fingers to the Cobert swing tune as the closing credits flashed.)

When Password returned as an ABC program, Score Productions provided a theme with a synth-heavy arrangement, similar to the cues heard on The Price Is Right when it returned to television the following year.

One used in the later years of the ABC 1970s version was composed by Bob Cobert and called "Bicentennial Funk."

Password won the first-ever Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show in 1974.

Password Plus

NBC brought Password back as Password Plus on January 8, 1979 (originally announced in Variety magazine as Password '79). The new format involved two teams, each consisting of a celebrity and a contestant, solving puzzles which consisted of five related passwords. Each team was given two chances (reduced from three chances after the first five months) to solve the password. If the password was solved correctly, the team was given a chance to identify the subject of the "Password Puzzle". The first two puzzles in each game were worth $100; each puzzle thereafter was worth $200.

The first team to reach $300 or more (later $500 or more) played a bonus round known as "Alphabetics", where the team attempted to solve ten passwords beginning with consecutive letters of the alphabet within 60 seconds. , was one of the hallmark of the If they were successful, the contestant won $5,000; otherwise, the contestant won $100 for each correct answer. Any illegal clues reduced the jackpot by $1,000. Toward the end of the show's run, $5,000 was added to the jackpot for each game until it was won, and illegal clues reduced the jackpot by 20 percent.

The tense, visually exciting bonus game -- echoic of the Winner's Circle round on Pyramid -- became a fan favorite, and was retained in the later Super Password.

Allen Ludden emceed Password Plus. When Ludden was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1980, Bill Cullen substituted for four weeks in the spring of 1980. Ludden returned to the show, but suffered a stroke which eventually forced him off for good (he died of stomach cancer in 1981). Tom Kennedy emceed the show from October 27, 1980 until its cancellation on March 26, 1982 after 800 shows. Gene Wood was the show's announcer.

Password Plus won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Game Show in 1982, shortly after the show was cancelled.

Super Password

On September 24, 1984, NBC brought the series back as Super Password with Bert Convy hosting and Gene Wood announcing. Gameplay was similar to Password Plus, except that the first puzzle was worth $100 and each puzzle was worth $100 more than the previous one; the first team to reach $500 won. The team that had the lead after the second puzzle played a "Ca$hword" game, where the celebrity player was given a password and the contestant was given three chances to guess that word. If the word was guessed correctly, the contestant won a cash jackpot that started at $1,000 and increased by that amount until somebody won. Contestants switched celebrity partners after the Ca$hword.

The bonus round no longer had the Alphabetics name (instead being just called "Super Password"), but it was played the same way, except that any illegal clues forfeited the contestant's chance at the jackpot. Jackpots started at $5,000 and increased by that amount — sometimes topping $50,000 — until somebody won.

Super Password ran until March 24, 1989.

Episode status

All versions of Password except the ABC version are known to exist, and have been seen on GSN. ABC probably destroyed the episodes of its version, and only two episodes are known to exist on the videotape trading circuit.

Commercial versions

The Milton Bradley Company introduced the first commercial version of Password in 1962 and subsequently released 24 editions of the game until 1986. (Owing to common superstition, these releases were numbered 1-12 and 14-25, skipping 13.) It was tied with Concentration as the most prolific of Milton Bradley's home versions of popular game shows, and was produced well into the Super Password era of the television show. Milton Bradley also published three editions of a Password Plus home game between 1979 and 1981. More recently, Endless Games has released three versions of Password since 1997. Some boxed sets attempted to simulate a particular television version.

A computer version of Super Password was released by GameTek for MS-DOS systems, as well as the Apple II and Commodore 64, shortly before the show was canceled; a Nintendo Entertainment System version was also planned but never released.

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