13 July 2024

GE College Bowl epic battle (Princeton vs. Agnes Scott)


I've just spent an enjoyable half hour walking down memory lane, watching an episode of General Electric's College Bowl. This quiz bowl series ran on U.S. television from 1959 to 1970.
The most dominant team was the University of Minnesota, which had teams appear in 23 of the 68 broadcast matches. The 1953-55 series had a powerful appeal because it used remote broadcasts; each team was located at their own college where they were cheered on by their wildly enthusiastic classmates. The effect was akin to listening to a football game, but this type of excitement evaporated in later versions, in which both teams competed in the same room.
One of the most memorable upsets in the history of the show occurred in 1966, when an all-woman team from tiny Agnes Scott College [Atlanta], took on the defending champions from Princeton University.

Agnes Scott fell behind 185-130 with less than two minutes remaining. You can see the final segment of the show in the embedded video above. (Although if this subject matter interests you, it's more fun to watch the first ten minutes here, and the second ten minutes here. The videos also incorporate the original advertising that ran in 1966.)

One particularly poignant aspect of the contest was pointed out recently by Robert Earle, who was moderator of the program. The last bonus question was answered by Karen Gearreald with about one second left in the game. "That young lady, by the way, was the only person in the theater who could not see the clock," Mr. Earle wrote. "She is blind."

And here's the final question: "For twenty points, what were Balmung and Durandal?"

For the answer, watch the video. It's more fun than Googling the answer.

(via Metafilter)

Reposted from 2017 to accompany other posts.


  1. excellent, i finally noticed you enabled your followers! count me in. i linked you on my blog about a month ago. great work.

  2. Thanks, I enjoyed watching all three parts. I learnt about a product I'd never seen - the baby-food warmer. What baby eats 3 jars of baby food at a time? And I was saddened by the "get to know you" section where the young men were asked what they were studying and what career they planned, but none of the young women were asked the same questions. I presume the assumption was that none of them would have a career. Hopefully the world has changed in the last 50 years?

    1. The challenging team always showed a short film clip about their school; I would assume that the following week the Agnes Scott team was asked about what they were studying and their career plans while the other team showed its PR film.

    2. I remember watching some of the old College Bowls, and I think you're correct about the introductions.

  3. I agree that it ad dad none of the young women were asked their aspirations, but Karen was the one picked to tell about the school!

  4. Thanks for this clip! Since Agnes Scott is the small women's college in my town of Decatur GA, I was shocked and delighted to learn that it once fielded a team that was able to trounce intellectual heavyweight of Princeton U!

  5. My Dad watched College Bowl religiously. He was a college professor, and said that he wished his students were that intelligent. I had no clue about any of the questions, but I watched anyway, hoping to be that smart someday.

  6. I knew the answer to the last question, but I don't know why, I am sure I must have picked it up from some D&D reference...


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