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Twenty One

Charles Van Doren, a college professor, was introduced as a contestant on Twenty One on November 28, 1956, as a challenger to then-champion Herbert Stempel. Van Doren and Stempel ultimately played to a series of four 21-21 games, with audience interest building with each passing week and each new game, until finally the clean-cut, "All American Boy" newcomer was able to outlast his bookish, quasi-intellectual opponent. The turning point came on a question directed to Stempel: "What film won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1955?" Stempel legitimately knew the answer to that question was Marty, as it was one of his favorite films. The producers ordered him to answer the question with 1954's Best Picture winner, On the Waterfront. Stempel later recalled that there was a moment in the booth when his conscience and sense of fair play warred with his sense of obligation and that he almost disrupted the scripted outcome by giving the correct answer. Stempel ultimately did as he was instructed.

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