Richie is picked from a television studio audience to be a contestant on a quiz show called BIG MONEY.
From a selection, he chooses card SEVEN. The category is baseball. Richie progresses through a series of questions. He is then asked to come back the next night.
Richie begins spending all his spare time consulting baseball almanacs. Potsie and Ralph, and even Howard and Marion quiz him every spare moment. Richie’s successful run on BIG MONEY continues over several shows.
After one of the shows, BIG MONEY’s host hands Richie an envelope. He tells Richie to look at what’s inside when he gets home. When Richie does, he is dumbstruck at what he finds. Inside the envelope are the questions and answers to the next night’s show – the one where Richie is finally eligible to play for the grand jackpot of $5000.
Richie is confronted with what he sees as a moral dilemma. He travels back to the tv studio to talk to Mr Whippett, the program’s host. Richie is told he represents the ‘American Dream’ and that him winning will be great for ratings, meaning everyone comes out on top.
Richie then talks it over with his father – who he has promised to buy a new set of custom-made golf clubs for if he wins. Howard advises him it is his call. Come the big night, Richie is asked the baseball question, “What do Wee Willie Keeler, Dazzy Vance and Rabbit Maranville all have in common?”
Richie has already been supplied the correct answer (that those players have all been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame) by the show but he pretends he doesn’t know. He leaves minus the money but with a clear conscience.
This HAPPY DAYS episode – and a 1994 movie directed by Robert Redford called QUIZ SHOW – were both based on real events that occurred in the U.S in the 1950’s.
The video below details one of the scandals that took place in 1956, concerning the quiz program TWENTY ONE.