Gambit (partially found Heatter-Quigley game show; 1972-1976)

From The Lost Media Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

The show's logo.

Status: Partially Found

Gambit was an American game show created by Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley. The show is based on the card game Blackjack in which it pits two couples together as they answer questions and try and get to or hit 21 with a deck of cards. Hosted by Wink Martindale and Elaine Stewart, it premiered on CBS on September 4, 1972 (the same day as The Joker's Wild and The Price Is Right) and was a moderate success in the ratings and with viewers, running until December 10, 1976 for 910 episodes[1]. It was brought back for a short time on NBC in 1980 and a reworked version of the show called "Catch 21" ran on Game Show Network from 2008 to 2011 and was resurrected for a short time in 2019. While the show was a moderate success like the other shows in CBS' daytime lineup, very little of the show has survived.


Two couples play a deck of 52 playing cards (which is cut before every game is played) and they try to build a hand as close to 21 as possible without going over. The couples would be asked questions by the host (usually true-or-false or multiple choice) and the first couple to buzz in with the correct answer gets control of the top card, while an incorrect one awards the other couple the card. When they have control of a card they have the option of adding it to their hand or passing it to the other couple. After every card, the couple has the option to continue building their hand or freezing their hand and the other couple continues to answer questions and build their hand in hopes of topping their opponent's hand. The other couple does not have the option to freeze if their hand ties their opponent's hand. If any of the couples get 21, they not only win the game but also win the Gambit Jackpot which starts at $500 and adds $500 every time the jackpot is not won. Each game won earns the winning couple $100 and the first couple to win two out of three games go onto the bonus round.

The winning couple plays the Gambit Bonus Board of 21 numbered cards (each contains a prize). After selecting a card from the bonus board, the couple gets the prize behind the card and a card gets added to their hand. The game ends if the couple decides to stop with their current hand (which also wins them the prizes they won up til that point), the couple goes over 21 and lose everything they got on the board or they get exactly 21 and they not only get the prizes they won on the board but also a car.


While Gambit started off strong when it debuted, its ratings starting deteriorating in late 1974 and it went downhill further in 1975 when NBC debuted Wheel Of Fortune in January 1975. The other changes in CBS's daytime lineup (which included expanding Another World to an hour and expanding The Price Is Right to an hour) also didn't help Gambit's ratings. The final episode aired on December 10, 1976, and the Goodson-Todman created Double Dare replaced it in its 11 AM time slot.


Despite the show premiering at a time when reusing tapes was discontinued at CBS, very little of the show has resurfaced. Prior to 2014, only one episode existed among private collectors[2] (which can be found online). In 2014, Wink Martindale himself uploaded three episodes to his YouTube channel. Five episodes from 1973 do exist at the UCLA Film and Television Archive[3][4][5][6][7].

In 2023, a newspaper clipping from 1977 promoting reruns of various game shows on KHJ-TV (now KCAL-TV) surfaced online and Gambit is among the shows advertised in the clipping[8]. Further mentions of the show being reran on WPIX-TV in the late 1970s on fan sites in the early 2000s[9] could mean that the show got a lot of exposure in reruns following its cancellation. Although it's unknown what happened to the tapes following these reruns.



An episode from 1973.

An episodes from 1974.

December 7th, 1976 episode.

December 10th, 1976 finale.


External Link