Plenty of game show hosts are memorable, but only one made audiences say whoopee.
Bob Eubanks, longtime host of The Newlywed Game, first used the word to get cheeky marital questions approved by the censors in the 1960s, but the by-product became America’s buzzword for sex.
Even though TV Guide initially summed up the happenings on the then-new game show as the worst piece of sleaze in television today, the show and Eubanks eclipsed the criticism and had America turning to their partner asking: Well, what would you say?
Everybody relates to it. That’s what made the Newlywed Game’ so popular, Eubanks says during a phone interview from Texas. There are two kinds of game shows. There’s the question-and-answer kind of a show and then there’s the relationship kind of a show, and that’s what we were. We were a comedy show that just happens to have a game with it.
Eubanks will provide a night full of laughs and prizes with an interactive live staging of The Not-So-Newlywed Game on Saturday at Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert, Ohio. The game will be played with eight couples competing for a grand prize. Every guest has an equal chance to be selected, and even those not selected will have a chance to win $100,000 by answering interactive questions posed to members of the audience.
Eubanks was born in Flint, Mich., and his family moved to California when he was 2. By the 1960s, Eubanks was one of Los Angeles’ top radio DJs and concert promoters; he was instrumental in booking the Beatles to play the Hollywood Bowl in 1964.
Two years later, Chuck Barris, The Newlywed Game creator who later became the host of the 1970s Gong Show, hired Eubanks. The premise was to put newly married couples to the test with Eubanks asking one partner to guess the response their wife or husband would give regarding topics as varied as the color scheme of their house or their love life.
Eubanks quickly learned how to milk a couple’s mishaps and create a witty rapport.
He says that for Saturday’s show, the questions and couples will be slightly different than what people know from the TV show.
Not-So-Newlywed’ means that you could have been married 50 years, I don’t care. In fact, that’s fun, Eubanks says. People are people wherever you go. It really doesn’t matter what kind of contestant I have. All kinds of people are funny. Eubanks says the new contestants show how social rules have changed with more education and technology.
I think society has become a little looser. If I ask a question and there’s an elderly couple on, their answer is going to be different than someone who is much younger because our society has changed over the years, he says. If you look at the show, it’s almost a microcosm of society today. You can tell how our education has failed or succeeded.
Because of television, we know exactly where some places are in America and even in the world. We certainly wouldn’t know where Iraq or Afghanistan was 40 years ago unless you got the globe out.
The Newlywed Game first aired in 1966, and Eubanks went on to host multiple incarnations of the show until 1996 and host celebrity episodes in the 2000s.
The episodes made him the only game show personality to host the same format with original programming in six decades.
As one of the hosts of the Tournament of Roses Parade since 1979, Eubanks has earned several Emmy awards and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He continues to host the parade for Hallmark and the Travel Channel.
With no plans to return to television full time, Eubanks, who turned 76 last month, now travels across the country for corporate speaking engagements and Not-So-Newlywed performances.
If I were producing television right now, I probably wouldn’t hire me because everybody has a turn in this world. I have certainly had a long turn, he says. I do the Rose Parade, and that’s fine. I have too much to do, and I’m having too much fun.
And TV Guide, which once dismissed Eubanks, named him one of the Top Five Game Show Hosts of All Time.
I mean in the department store of life, you have to know I live in the toy department, he says. You don’t really take away anything from what I do. You just enjoy it and have a relaxing, wonderful time. That’s all I ask.