What's in a Signature? A Look at Penmanship of 'Jeopardy' Contestants


 Jeopardy contestants2


Our personalities are conveyed by the clothes we wear, how we style our hair, the diction we use, etc.  Another indicator is how we write our name.  Some friends tell me that their first impression of someone is created by the condition of their shoes.  As for me, I sometime make a snap judgement from they way someone scribbles their name on a name tag.  And this applies to my perception of contestants on Jeopardy, as I'm fascinated by how they write their names on the screen that's on the podium they stand behind. 


For the most part, these signatures are nondescript, but a few stand out.  Some contestants use all capital letters, others write in cursive, some mix these two styles, while others embellish certain letters or draw a slash or squiggle underneath to add some pizazz to a name like John or Sally.  If I were a contestant, this is how I'd sign my name:  




One thing I've learned is that a standout signature isn't predictive of how a contestant will do on the show.  For example, Amy Schneider's wasn't the least bit flashy, nor was Cris Pannullo's; James Holzhauer was always changing his in amusing ways; and Matt Amadio had a winsome curlicue to start his 'M', but the overall presentation of his name belied the manner in which he bulldozed over his fellow contestants for 38 matches.


 Jan 26_amy

  1 James Holzhauer

 Sept 2021 matt amodio


Jeopardy champ - cris pannullo

In the nearly 40 years of Jeopardy telecasts in the "modern" era  (i.e., since Alex Trebek) there have been approximately 22,000 contestants, so I've barely scratched the surface with the signatures I've seen. Of course, this is an absolutely subjective exercise (and opens a window into my personality).  Sometimes my aesthetic radar is activated by the overall look, in other cases my interest comes from the design of one or two letters.  With that said, here are some of my favorites:


- Neat & Simple -

  1 college tourn - megan


1 feb 4 - molly


1 feb 14 - carrie


1 - feb 21 - henry

1 - feb 22 - hieu 

 Apr 6 - vernon

 Apr 7 - mike


Jun 3 - wyatt


May 31 - kenny


June 7 - michaael



Jeopardy - juliana

 June 16 - steve


- Cursive -


1 feb 2 - ben

 1 feb 3 - emma

    1 feb 7 - jennifer

1 dec 2021 gautam


Mar 1 - margaret


Mar 9 - sallie

 March 15 - ariel

 Mar 30 - jackie


June 7 - elaine

 June 22 - megan

Jeopardy - kelly


Jeopardy 2023 - liz

Jeopardy brad - feb 16 2023

Jeopardy - hillary 2023

 Jeopardy 2023 - linda

Jeopardy - libby


Dec 9 - matthew


June 17 - molly

 Jeoaprdy - audrey feb 2023


- A Flourish or Two -

 1 feb 10 - kelsey


1 feb 14 - hung


1 jan 31 - jay


1 - yoshie


1 feb 7 - lawrence


Mar 3 - louis

Jeopardy - april

 Oct 17 - cindy

Dec 8 - sriram


1 Francois


1 feb 3 - zach


1 jan 26 - rhone


1 - shawn


1 - robert

Feb 25 - max



 Feb 28 - joel


Apr 8 - tom

Mar 28 - ryan


May 30 - steve

 May 31 - carissa

 May 27 - john from brooklyn

 May 19 - bradford


June 15 - gregory

 June 8 - tessa


Jeopardy 2023 - kristina

 Jeopardy - yogesh january 2023


Jeopardy jeff feb 2023

Ken jennings


-  A Man With Different Signatures -


Then we come to contestant Jake DeArruda from the winter of 2023 who competed on four nights and displayed a different style for each night's signature. It’s a shame we couldn’t see his creativity extend further.


Jeopardy jake  DeArruda

Jeopardy - jake 3

 Jeopardy - jake 2

Jeopardy - jake 4


- Uninspiring -



College tournament - matt


Feb 17 - matt

Feb 9 - james June 6 - eric
  Jeopardy - dan


Remembering My Favorite Episode of "Seinfeld" (October 28, 1992)


Seinfeld panties episode


Although Seinfeld aired 180 episodes in its nine seasons on NBC I can easily say which is my favorite of them all.  No, it's not the "Master of Your Domain" episode, not the one about "The Soup Nazi", or even "The Bubble Boy".  Rather, it was the episode known as "The Cheever Letters", which I think of as the 'Panties' episode.  It aired on October 28, 1992 during the sitcom's fourth season.  The episode is filled with hilarious moments discussed below: 


The episode opens with George and his fiance Susan informing her parents that their cabin, which Susan's dad was very attached to, had burnt to the ground.  Her tipsy mother gets a kick out of this news and upon her laughing uproariously, Susan's dad looks at her with disdain and tells her to "put on more lipstick".


Susan's mom laughing at news about cabin on seinfeld


Upon finding muddy wheelchair tracks on the living room carpet Susan's mother scolds her wheelchair-bound sister-in-law with the exasperated comment, "It's just a matter of common courtesy, when you come into the house you wipe your wheels!" 


Wheel chair bound


Letters in a strong box found in the debris of the destroyed cabin reveal that Susan's father had carried on an affair with author John Cheever.  Susan begins reading one of the letters out loud in front of the family, as well as George and Jerry.  One sentence reads, "I fear my orgasm has left me a cripple."  Susan's wheel bound aunt exclaims triumphantly, "I knew it!" 


Cheevers love letters


Meanwhile Kramer visits the Cuban embassy to get cigars and does a comical double take of a mysterious, elderly woman wearing sunglasses sitting silently in the reception area.


Seinfeld woman at cuban embassy

However, what made this my favorite episode is the storyline in which Jerry makes, what he thought was, an innocent comment during foreplay while on a date with Elaine's secretary: "You mean, the panties your mother laid out for you?"  However, it offended her and she storms out of his apartment.  The next day Jerry tells George about his date and how it progressed to "dirty talk", which enthralls George, but upon hearing Jerry's comment he looks puzzled, responding, "It's not offensive, abnormal perhaps, but not offensive."


Seinfeld panties episode2


And then come the closing minutes of the episode.  Jerry had been worried that Elaine's secretary might confide in her about their date and asks Elaine if she mentioned anything to her and Elaine says no.  But then, as Elaine leaves Jerry's apartment, she casually tells him that she has to stop by her mother's apartment because her mom bought her some new panties, which she has "all laid out" for her!  This was such a wicked surprise because up until then Jerry was under the impression that Elaine had no idea what had occurred during his date.


Seinfeld - panties laid out

Memories of Pittsburgh TV & Radio Personalities from My Childhood


Growing up in the Pittsburgh area in the 1960s and '70s meant that media personalities from KDKA TV/Radio, WTAE and KQV loomed very large in my young life.  (And with no cable channels back then their presence was even more ubiquitous.)  Here, in alphabetical order, are the names and faces from that era that I remember best.  (This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, just the people who made a lasting impression with me.)



She rocked the boat as Pittsburgh's first female TV sports announcer, first appearing on KDKA in 1973.  Not very knowledgeable about sports, she lasted just two years.  She died in 1989 at the age of 49.




Bogut came to Pittsburgh in 1968, working for KDKA Radio.  I listened to his show as I got ready for school and still remember his creepy/comical ode to the "Slithery Dee".  He's still on the radio, now on WJAS, and I listen to his show whenever I visit my mother.  Amazingly, his voice hasn't changed.  I'm not certain about his age, but the fact that he was married in 1961 suggests he's in his early-80s.  (Update: WJAS changed to a Talk format in August 2014 and dropped Bogut.)





The face/voice of radio station KQV during the 1960s.  He vied with KDKA's Clark Race as the city's most popular DJ.  He died in 2018 at the age of 83.




A legend, the Walter Cronkite of Pittsburgh.  He anchored the KDKA news for 36 years.  All business, Burns had a gruff, Lou Grant type persona and was the consummate professional.  He died in 1997 at the age of 84.  His daughter Patti also worked for KDKA and was very popular.  Sadly, she died of lung cancer in 2001 at the age of 49.




Best known for hosting Chiller Theater and Studio Wrestling on Saturdays.  His following from Chiller Theater got "Chilly Billy" a small role in Night of the Living Dead (filmed north of Pittsburgh).  Interestingly, Cardille is the only person on my list from WIIC-Channel 11 (NBC's Pittsburgh affiliate).  Despite undergoing open-heart surgery back in the 1980s, he's still active, with a radio show on WJAS.  Amazingly, at the age of 85, his voice sounds as youthful as it was 50 years ago.  (Update: WJAS changed to a Talk format in August 2014 and dropped Cardille as well as Jack Bogut; sadly, Cardille passed away in the summer of 2016.)




Cope possessed the most distinctive/abrasive voice in Pittsburgh broadcasting, if not the nation (even more so than Howard Cosell).  He was truly a motormouth, but a beloved one.  His proudest achievement was probably the creation of the "Terrible Towel" for the Steelers in the mid-1970s.  He died in 2008 at the age of 79.



Currie was the lead sports announcer for KDKA in the 1970s, coming here from North Carolina where he was known as "The Mouth of the South."  He wore garish, brightly colored sports jackets often with wild patterns.  For me he wore out his welcome rather quickly.  He died in 2008 at the age of 85.





Pittsburgh's most famous meteorologist, De Nardo began his career with KDKA, but is best known for his long career with WTAE from 1969 to 2005.  I saw him a number of times shopping at the K-mart near his home in Moon Township.  Situated close to the airport, he groused about the planes' flight patterns that brought them over his house.  Then shortly after he moved the airport closed and relocated!  He died in the summer of 2018 at the age of 87.





Although Joe De Nardo may have had a higher profile, Bob Kudzma was my favorite weatherman, serving as KDKA's on-air meteorologist for 34 years (1968-2002).  He reminded me of Pat Sajak.  I wrote to him for advice about having a career as a meteorologist and he replied.  He passed way in February 2021 at the age of 81.





Best known for his time as anchor on WTAE from 1969 until 1994.  He was very stern looking, even more so than Bill Burns.  Reminded me of Nikita Khruschev (and my Uncle Joe).  He died in 2002 at the age of 86.





Most famous for a Saturday afternoon bowling show in the 1960s on WTAE (Championship Bowling) and Bowling for Dollars in the 1970s.  (It was a proud day in our neighborhood when our neighbor from across the street appeared on the show and won $500.)  Unfortunately, his reputation was tarnished by a state lottery scandal in the 1980s.  However, since I was no longer living in Pittsburgh when it happened my memory of him is still as a bowling personality.  He died in 2003 at the age of 86.





Prince was the larger-than-life radio/TV play-by-play announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates until 1975.  "Kiss it Good-bye!" was one of his most famous sayings.  He died in 1985 at the age of 68.  Nellie King was his mild-mannered sidekick from 1967-1975.  He died in 2010 at the age of 82.


Nellie King (L) & Bob Prince (R)


Popular KQV DJ in the late '60s thru early '70s, when he was in his 20s.  In the 1990s he went to the dark side and became a conservative talk-radio host.  He's now in his late 70s (as of 2020).




Clark Race was the Dick Clark of Pittsburgh.  He was probably the market's most popular DJ, on KDKA, and also hosted a popular dance show on KDKA-TV that aired on Saturday afternoon; it ran from 1963 until 1966.  His show would begin with the intro, "Hello Clark Race, hello - and welcome to the show!", which was followed by the instrumental String of Trumpets.  He died in 1999 at the age of 66.





Her signature blonde coif gave her a very glamorous persona.  I remember her best for doing the weather during WTAE's evening news in the late '60s, but she was a constant TV presence with various reporting roles.  Sadly, she died from COVID-19 in November 2020 at the age of 88.


Eleanor schano weather lady





Avuncular KDKA radio personality who was lovingly called "Uncle Ed".  He had already clocked many years with the station when I listened to him give the weather report in the morning while I was getting ready for school.  Often mentioned his wife Gertrude.  I also recall that he used to promote Pappin's restaurant.  He died in 1990 at the age of 77.



Host of the children's show Adventure Time which aired weekday afternoons at 4:00 on WTAE.  He sat among the kids as Dick Clark did on American Bandstand.  Famous for the characters Nosmo King and Knish.  He'd introduce cartoons and shorts by The Three Stooges with the line, "So down goes the curtain - and back up again."  He died in 1990 at the age of 80.





Before he went over to the "network" side Dick Stockton was KDKA TV's sports director from 1967-1971 when he was only in his his 20s.  There was something in his demeanor that suggested that bigger things were in store for him.  He's now 77 (as of 2020).





With her New York pedigree, she was the grand dame of Pittsburgh television.  She was with KDKA from 1962 until 1977.  In my youthful mind she and Bill Burns were the First Couple of Pittsburgh.  Her claim to fame was going to jail for 10 days for refusing to reveal one her sources when she was a newspaper reporter in New York in the 1950s.  She had a charming, sophisticated laugh that brought to mind Kitty Carlyle or Arlene Francis.  She died in 1997 at the age of 73.





I remember her best for hosting Jr. High Quiz which aired on Sunday on WTAE from 1965-1982.  I always wanted to be on that show but our school district (Sto-Rox) wasn't chosen in the years I was in high school.  Before the quiz show she was known for hosting the Ricki & Copper Show, which starred her dog Copper.  What I remember best about the show was the Hostess cupcakes she handed out to kids in the audience who were celebrating their birthdays.  (Although this show and Adventure Time had a live studio audience of kids I never had a desire to be on either.)  She recently died (July 2021) at the age of 86 in Chicago.


Ricki wertz and copper













A Ho-Hum Night: Commentary on the Commercials of Super Bowl XLVIII

Superbowlxvliii.screenhotI watch the Super Bowl for every facet of it.  The singing of the National Anthem by opera star Renee Fleming was OK, but couldn't compare to past efforts by Beyonce, Cher or Jennifer Hudson.  Bruno Mars' halftime show was a treat (I could have done without the brief appearance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers).  I didn't stick around after the game for the airing of The New Girl but I tuned in later for Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  As for the game itself, I waited for the Broncos' comeback, but it was not to be, but watching the Seahawks pounce on them had some entertainment value. 


SuperbowladsAnd then there is the advertising, a different animal from the game's other components because the ads aren't monolithic.  Each has to be considered separately.  But overall, they were an uninspiring lot.  Rest assured, no ad from this year's lineup of advertisers will be part of any Advertising Hall of Fame induction.  On a scale of 1-10 I would rate none at 8 or higher - even a 7 might be generous.  Nonetheless, I had a few favorites (relatively speaking).


  • Wonderful Pistachios - I've never liked this campaign, which has been running for three years, but with Stephen Colbert featured, I was amused.



  • Doritos - The time capsule made from a cardboard box made me laugh, especially when the fellow thought he had traveled to the future and the angry old neighbor greeting him when he opened the box was the little kid.
  • Chevy Silverado - This ad, showing a bull being taken to stud, got my attention because of the disco song "You Sexy Thing".  It was cute and I thought the photography of the bull and cows was great.



  • Butterfinger - A silly set-up with a couples therapy set up, but it did get my attention because of the product introduced, i.e., peanut butter cups.
  • Toyota - Featuring Terry Crews and the Muppets, Crews is appealing because of his exasperated muscle-hulk persona (somewhat like the Rock).  By coincidence, he also co-stars in the Fox sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which aired after the Super Bowl. 



  • Subway - Despite its usual uninspired creative, the ad nonetheless gained my attention with news about its Fritos Chicken Enchilada sub.
  • Go Daddy - The swarm of shirtless hulks running (along with a muscle lady) got my attention.  I watched it with interest to see what the ad was for and was, not surprisingly, disappointed by the payoff.
  • Esurance - Airing immediately after the game, it wasn't technically in the Super Bowl, but close enough.  I liked it because of John Krasinski's delivery.


Like all of the Super Bowls, the vast majority of ads were boring, nonsensical, derivative, aimed at the masses.  Rather than go through each one I'll feature just a few to berate (actually, fourteen of them):


  • Coca Cola - Despite it being on of the unofficial sponsors of American obesity not one overweight individual was shown.
  • Audi - Although the "doberhuahua" was somewhat amusing, the ad's tag line, "Compromise scares us too", turned me  off.  I half expected a voice at the end announcing that Audi was official car of the Tea Party.



  • Chrysler - I was told this wasn't a Saturday Night Live parody commercial, but I'm not convinced.  Bob Dylan took the place of Clint Eastwood and Eminem who did similar rah-rah Detroit ads in previous Super Bowls.  Great, someone in their 70s touting a struggling industry.  I wonder if viewers under 30 even know who Dylan was?
  • Anheuser Busch Clydesdales - The "awww" factor stopped working for me years ago.  Now I just roll my eyes as I think of all the easily manipulated misty eyes across America.  A-B should have a tie-in with Hallmark.
  • Chobani Yogurt - So much build up for so little pay-off.  A bear eating yogurt?  Wow.
  • H&M - David Beckham has been featured perhaps one year too many.   Or is H&M planning on showing him every year as he ages?




  • Beats Music - Ellen Degeneres once again milked her tiresome dancing routine.  (And I'm not looking forward to her hosting the Oscars.)  When I started writing about this ad my incorrect recollection was that this was an ad for Beats by Dr Dre. headphones.
  • Carmax - Yes, there were a number of funny aspects but too much of it was ho-hum, including the central character, who was an uncharismatic schlump.  And at the end of the ad I didn't know exactly what Carmax was.
  • Honda/Hugfest - This spot began with an earnest Bruce Willis, but then it turned stupid when the camera panned out to show Fred Armisen hugging him - what was the connection between the two?



  • Hyundai - I like Johnny Galecki but I hardly think of him as a spokesperson - and Richard Lewis?  He was barely recognizable.  And similar to Bruce Willis/Fred Armisen, what was the connection between the two?
  • Jeep/Are You Restless? - Puh-leez, much too pompous and the product pitch came much too late.
  • Volkswagen - A dad tells his uninterested daughter that an angel gets his wings every time a VW reaches 100,000 miles.  Too many examples shown, I got the point the first time.  And why did one of the guys at the urinal have small wings?  Only 50,000 miles?
  • Bud Light/Ian Rappaport's Night on the Town - I hate all mass-market beer commercials, and Anhueser-Busch is the exclusive beer advertiser at the big game. 
  • Crackle.com - Featuring Jerry and George from Seinfeld, I didn't realize this was an ad (for a website that airs Seinfeld's show "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee").  The only thing that went through my mind was how Jerry and George had aged but not Newman (who showed up at the end).



A Smorgasbord of Super Bowl Facts & Figures: A Game-by-Game Review (1967 - 2023)





Whether it's the game, the high-profile advertising, or its halftime show, the Super Bowl has something for nearly everyone - no wonder it attracts more than 100 million viewers.  (The only thing missing is a red carpet ceremony!)  To salute this all-encompassing event, what follows are brief summaries of each of the fifty-three Super Bowls, a quirky melange of milestones and fun facts - perfect for entertaining friends and family when they gather together for this year's game. 



The first "AFL-NFL World Championship" game aired on two TV networks.  It had the smallest stadium attendance of any Super Bowl - 61,946.





The Packers won for the second year in a row.  "Cheeseheads" would then have to wait until 1997 until their next Super Bowl appearance.  Two weeks after this win the Packers iconic coach, Vince Lombardi, announced his retirement.   


This Super Bowl set a record for the fewest combined touchdowns, two.  The New York Jets' stunning upset of the Colts (who were 18 point favorites) was replicated later that year with the Mets' improbable World Series victory over the Orioles.  





The game was played with wet field conditions and under a threat of tornadoesCarol Channing provided halftime entertainment. 


A field goal with five seconds left in the game broke a tie, giving Baltimore a victory over Dallas.  The cost of a :30 spot was 8% lower than the previous year (only four other years would have a price decrease).  Two years after singing the National Anthem, orange juice queen, Anita Bryant, performed this year's halftime show (this was six years before she became notorious for leading the charge against gay rights legislation in Dade Co.).  The game had the earliest East Coast kick-off time of any Super Bowl - 2 PM. 


At kick-off the temperature at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans was 38°, making it the coldest of all Super Bowls (of those played outdoors).  The Cowboys defeated the Dolphins, who were limited to three points - the fewest points by a Super Bowl participant. 





A year after the coldest playing conditions for a Super Bowl, this year's had the warmest as the temperature was 84° in Los Angeles at kick-off time.  Then the Miami Dolphins completed an undefeated season with a Super Bowl victory.  Their 14 points were the fewest scored by any winning team.  Their opponents, the Redskins, were held scoreless until 2:07 was left in the 4th Quarter.





This was the first Super Bowl to charge $100,000 for a :30 commercial ($480,000 in today's inflation-adjusted dollars). 


At halftime the score was Steelers 2 Vikings 0, the fewest combined points in the first half of any Super Bowl. 


It was a very chilly day in Miami, with a kick-off temperature of only 57°.  The telecast had the highest share of viewing of any Super Bowl - 78%.  A Bicentennial themed halftime show featured the squeaky clean singers and dancers known as "Up With People". 





Super Bowl XI took place on Jan. 9, the earliest date ever.  It was also the first game played before a crowd of 100,000+.  Rather than sing the National Anthem at the start of the game, Vikki Carr sang America the Beautiful.  This was the Vikings fourth, and last, Super Bowl appearance (they lost all four games). 


This was the first Super Bowl played in a domed stadium, New Orleans' Superdome (it would be held there six more times).  It was also the first with a kick-off time after 6 PM on the East Coast (6:17). 


The 31 points scored by the Cowboys was the most by a losing team (the Steelers won with 34 points).  This record was later tied by the 49ers in 2013 (the Ravens won with 35).





Nearly 104,000 attended the game at the LA Coliseum, the largest Super Bowl crowd ever.  One of the game's participants was the Los Angeles Rams, the first Super Bowl participant to play in its own TV market.  For the second time the Steelers won back-to-back Super Bowls (the first time was in 1975 and 1976) - the only team to do so. 


To honor the American hostages in Iran who were released five days earlier, attendees were given yellow bows to hold in the air.  The price of a :30 spot was 45% higher than the previous year - the biggest year-to-year increase of any year. 


This was the highest rated of any Super Bowl, with a 49.1 household rating.  The first Super Bowl to be played in a northern city (Detroit), it was played in a domed stadium, thereby protecting spectators and players from outdoor temperatures that hovered around 20 degrees.






The 1982 NFL season had been shortened by seven games due to a players strike in Sept/October.  Still, interest was quite high for the Super Bowl as the game posted its second highest rating.  After the game NBC premiered The A Team


Apple's famed "1984" commercial aired during the game.  Before the game Barry Manilow sang the National Anthem.





The game was played at Stanford Stadium in foggy conditions.  Featuring the 49ers and Dolphins, it was played just 25 miles from the 49ers stadium - the second Super Bowl participant to have close to a home field advantage (the first was the LA Rams in 1980).  The cost of a :30 commercial was 40% higher than that of 1984's game. 


This was the first Super Bowl appearance by "Da Bears".  It was the last game to get a 70 share of viewing until 2012.





Anheuser-Busch introduced Bud Light mascot Spuds MacKenzie during the game.  And after the game Disney unveiled its "I'm Going to Disneyland!" campaign.






One year after the Giants set the record for most points scored in the second half of a Super Bowl, the Redskins set the mark for most in the first half, with 35.  All of these points were scored in the 2nd quarter - the most for any quarter.  The game's 41.9 household rating was the lowest in 14 years.  Herb Alpert performed the last instrumental version of the National Anthem. 


Coke aired a commercial in 3-D during halftime (glasses were distributed at supermarkets).  Also, Anheuser-Busch aired a series of ads called "The Bud Bowl" between teams of animated bottles of Bud Light and Budweiser.  Hundreds of Elvis impersonators performed during halftime, but no Elvis songs were performed.  (On a personal note, I won $50 in the office pool for the First Quarter score.)


This was the most one-sided Super Bowl as the 49ers crushed the Broncos 55-10.  It was also quarterback Joe Montana's 4th Super Bowl win, tying him with the Steelers' Terry Bradshaw.  This was the third time the Broncos appeared in the past four years - all losses.  The game's 39.0 household rating was the lowest since 1969. 


This game is remembered for Whitney Houston's powerful rendition of the National Anthem.  The game was a heart breaker for Buffalo as their kicker missed a game-winning field goal in the game's final second.  With a final score of 20-19, this is the only Super Bowl decided by one point.





Fox counter programmed the Super Bowl's halftime show with its comedy show In Living Color, and it created a noticeable viewing dip as the game's rating fell 24% from the 2nd quarter (a loss of 22 million viewers).  This was also the first Super Bowl to use a signer during the singing of the National Anthem.





The Cowboys 21 points in the 4th Quarter was the most ever scored in that quarter.  Final score was 52-17.  To prevent counter programming from stealing its halftime audience, Michael Jackson performed - the beginning of high profile acts appearing at halftime.





Despite the Bills' kicker Steve Christie kicking the longest field goal in Super Bowl history (54 yards), Buffalo lost the Super Bowl for the fourth year in a row. 


This was the first Super Bowl to charge $1 million for a :30 ad unit.  As for the game, the 49ers were 18-1/2 point favorites, the biggest spread ever, and won by 23, 49-26.  49ers quarterback Steve Young set a Super Bowl mark by throwing six touchdown passes.  The two teams combined for 75 points, most ever.  This is the only Super Bowl played between two West Coast teams (the San Diego Chargers was the other team).  This was the 49ers' fifth Super Bowl win, and it would their last time at the Big Game until 2013.  During the game the Budweiser frogs, Bud, Wies and Er, were first introduced.





Diana Ross headlined the halftime show and ended her performance with a dramatic exit by helicopter.  An episode of Friends aired after the game and delivered an audience of 52 million, making it the largest Super Bowl lead-out ever. 


The 24 points scored in the 1st quarter (New England 14 Green Bay 10) was the most ever.  This was the Packers first Super Bowl appearance since Super Bowl II. 


The pre-game show was hosted by Sat. Night Live's Phil Hartman, who was murdered by his wife three months later.





Cher, whose latest single Believe was rising on the charts, sang the National Anthem.





The average price of a :30 spot topped $2 million.  Host city, Atlanta, was plagued by two ice storms in the week leading up to the game.  This Super Bowl is often referred to as the "Dot-com Bowl" because nineteen dot-com companies aired commercials (nearly half of them were out of business within a few years, including Pets.com).





Following the game the Season 2 premiere of Survivor aired, and its audience of 47 million was the second largest of any post-game programming. 


The game was played at New Orleans' Superdome for the sixth time, most of any venue (a seventh time would be in 2013).  This Super Bowl had the distinction of having the latest kick-off time (on the East Coast) - 6:40 PM.  As for the game, the Patriots kicked a field goal with seven seconds remaining to win.  President Bush became the first president involved in any part of the game as he participated in the opening coin toss.  As U2 sang Where the Streets Have No Name during halftime, the names of all those who died on 9-11 were displayed on a white sheet behind the stage.  For the second year in a row the price of a :30 ad declined.





In their first Super Bowl appearance, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won.  With a temperature of 82° at kick-off time, this was the second warmest Super Bowl.  This was also the fourth Super Bowl to be played on Jan. 26 - the most of any date. 


This game is known for the "Nipplegate" halftime incident between Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson.  As for the game, the 37 combined points scored in the 4th quarter was the most scored in any quarter of a Super Bowl.  And two years after New England won with seven seconds left, this year they won the game with eight seconds remaining.





Animal Planet aired its first Puppy Bowl opposite the game.  New England won for the second year in a row, the eighth time a team had back-to-back championships.





The Rolling Stones provided the halftime entertainment.  This was the first Super Bowl to use a five-second delay during the show. 


This is the only Super Bowl in which the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown.  Prince's halftime show took place in a steady rain.  An ad for Snickers created controversy because it showed two kissing after eating a Snickers bar from opposite ends.





In winning the Super Bowl, the Giants handed the Patriots their only loss of the season.  The E-Trade baby made his first appearance during the telecast.





The Steelers came from behind in the final minute to beat the Arizona Cardinals for their sixth Super Bowl victory, the most of any team.  Despite the Great Recession, the price of a :30 saw a price increase. 


The Saints won in their first Super Bowl appearance.  The night's most popular commercial was for Snickers in which Betty White gets tackled during a football game.





Christina Aguilera sang the Star-Spangled Banner and got some of the lyrics wrong.  This was the first time Dallas hosted the Super Bowl. 


Madonna provided the halftime entertainment and perhaps helped make this the Super Bowl with the largest TV audience -111.4 million (not to be confused with highest rating, which was in 1982).





The game's second half was delayed 34 minutes due to a partial power failure.  Nine years after she was tapped to sing the National Anthem, Beyonce provided the halftime entertainment in a fierce get up that was a cross between Victoria's Secret and dominatrix.  The Ravens' Super Bowl victory was the first for the city of Baltimore since 1971 - when its NFL team was the Colts.





This was the first Super Bowl played in an uncovered northern stadium, in northern New Jersey.  In the midst of a harsh/snowy winter the weather turned out not to be an issue as the temperature at game time was 49°.  (Eight inches of snow fell the following day.)  Renee Fleming was the first opera singer to sing the National Anthem.  As for the game, the Broncos gave up a safety on the opening play and it was downhill from there, with the Seattle Seahawks easily winning 44-8.  


The Seahawks appeared in the game for the second year in a row and it appeared as if they were on their way to another victory, but then New England ended their scoring drive by intercepting a pass at the one-yard line with 24 seconds left to play.  Katy Perry  was the primary halftime entertainment which was marked by dancing sharks.  She ended by swinging across the field on a wire.  This was the first game to offer :15 commercials.  The game had the largest audience of any Super Bowl (but not the highest rating, which was posted in 1982), with peaks during halftime and in the game's closing minutes (121 million viewers).





This was the Golden Anniversary of the Super Bowl (i.e., the 50th) and it was also the final game of Denver Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning's 17-year career, and he made it memorable with a victory - Denver's third Super Bowl championship.  This was the first Super Bowl to charge $5 million for a :30 commercial.  Carolina Panther QB, Cam Newton, came across as a sore loser when he walked out of the post-game news conference.


Payton manning super bowl 50


This was the first Super Bowl that went into overtime.  Down 28-3 near the end of the Third Quarter, the Patriots made the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, beating the Atlanta Falcons, 34-28.  This was the Patriots' fifth Super Bowl victory (one behind the Steelers).  Country singer Luke Bryan was the first male singer to perform the National Anthem in ten years (when Billy Joel sang it).  Halftime entertainment was provided by Lady Gaga.  With the game coming just two weeks after Donald Trump's inauguration, there was speculation about whether she would make some sort of anti-Trump statement since she was known for making political statements.  And while there was nothing overt, it was felt that her choice of two patriotic songs at the beginning of her set, God Bless America and This Land is Your Land, was intended to suggest the need for prayer for the nation, and a reminder of the ideals that were the basis of the nation's founding.


Tom brady super bowl LI



This year a comeback by the Patriots' (appearing in their tenth Super Bowl) was thwarted by a fumble in the closing minutes, enabling the Philadelphia Eagles to win their first Super Bowl.  A very small consolation for New England was the fact that the 33 points it scored was the most to be scored by a losing team.  Despite the game being an exciting one the average viewing audience was the smallest in nine years.  Halftime entertainment was provided by Justin Timberlake, 14 years after his and Janet Jackson's controversial 'Nipplegate' performance during that Super Bowl's halftime.




For the first time in ten years the Super Bowl, which was the lowest scoring ever (Patriots 13 Rams 3), had an average-minute audience of less than 100 million. The halftime show featuring Maroon 5 and some rap stars from Atlanta (which hosted the game) paled in comparison to previous halftimes starring the likes of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Madonna and Katy Perry.  For me the most memorable part of the game was a commercial for Burger King that used footage from a 1960s documentary showing Andy Warhol unwrapping a BK hamburger and putting Heinz ketchup on it.  And although Burger King paid for the :45 ad (estimated cost of $7.8 million), Heinz had equally prominent placement.


Andy warhol


Six weeks before COVID shut down the nation, the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV after a memorable late-game comeback. Down 21-10 at the start of the 4th Quarer, Kansas City scored three unanswered touchdowns in the game's final seven minutes to defeat the 49er's 31-21.  This comeback somewhat one-upped J-Lo's and Shakira's scintillating halftime show.


J-lo and shakira_2020 super bowl


COVID restrictions were in place for Super Bowl LV, in which defending champions, the Chiefs, were beat by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-9, behind quarterback Tom Brady, his first season playing for Tampa Bay after his storied carrer with the Patriots (this was Brady's tenth Super Bowl appearance, and his seventh Super Bowl ring).   Space restrictions resulted in a crowd of fewer than 25,000 being allowed in (one-third of seats were given to healthcare workers).  The Wkend was the halftime performer and his show had a rather dramatic, sinister feel to it.


Tom brady's seventh super bowl



The Bengals went to 0-3 in Super Bowls after the San Diego Rams scored the winning touchdown with less then two minutes left to the game (final score: 23-20).  Those attending the game in Inglewood, CA were required to show proof of COVID vaccination and a negative PCR test within 48 hours of the game.  The match-up featured the youngest pairing of head coaches in a Super Bowl (both were under 40).  The halftime show was a tribute to legends of hip hop, with appearances by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blighe, and Kendrick Lamar.  Finally, Super Bowl LIV was referred to as the "Crytocurrency Bowl" because of a perponderance of commercials from crytpo-currency companies, including FTX which shelled out $15 million for a two-minute spot starring Curb Your Enthusiam's Larry David.     

Crypto bowl 2022


Super Bowl LVII was the first to feature starting quarterbacks facing each other who were black - Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) and Jalen Hurts (Eagles).  In an exciting game that had constant scoring, the Chiefs scored the winning touchdown with about two minutes left to beat the Eagles, 38-35.  The 35 points scored by the Eagles were the most by a losing team.  Singing superstar Rihanna (who was in the early states of pregnancy performed at halftime on a platform suspended over the playing field that rose and dropped.  She sang a dozen of her hits, but didn't include early hits Pon de Replay, Don't Stop the Music, and Shut Up and Drive


Rihanna at 2023 super bowl





OJ Simpson Freeway Chase Mesmerizes The Nation (June 17, 1994)





The evening of June 17, 1994, a Friday, was warm and muggy and I had just returned to my apartment in Greenwich Village after a five-mile run in Hudson River Park.  Before showering I turned on the TV to check the score of Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.  Instead, what appeared on the screen was a white SUV speeding along a highway.  I thought that perhaps it was a scene from a repeat of NBC's Law & Order, but when I changed channels it was also on ABC, CBS and CNN. 


I soon learned that the white Bronco was carrying OJ Simpson on LA’s 405 Freeway, and it was being pursued by a phalanx of LAPD police cruisers.  It seems OJ, who was the prime suspect in the murder of his 35-year-old wife, Nicole, and her male friend earlier in the week, didn't turn himself in, as he had agreed, and was now sitting in the back of the vehicle holding a gun to his head and threatening to shoot himself.





The chase was so mesmerizing I couldn’t pull myself away to go to the grocery store to get dinner.  I watched for at least two hours waiting for the moment when, befitting this perfect Greek tragedy, OJ was going to end it all.  What sticks with me was the circus-like atmosphere as cars pulled over on the freeway and crowds lined the road and overpasses cheering (or jeering) as he drove by.  And when the Bronco finally pulled into the driveway of OJ’s home another surreal thing happened.  An eyewitness claiming to be across the street from OJ’s house was interviewed on the phone by ABC News’ Peter Jennings but he turned out to be a crank caller who made an inane comment about his allegiance to Howard Stern.


In happier days ...



Fast forward sixteen months to Oct. 3, 1995, the day of the verdict in OJ’s murder trial.  I was eating lunch in my office (at ad agency Foote, Cone & Belding) and turned on the radio to listen to the live coverage of the jury’s verdict.  I had decided not to watch the coverage on TV in the conference room with others because I didn’t want to see which co-workers might be happy if he was found innocent.  When I heard the not-guilty verdict I got up and closed the door to my office and sat for a while with my eyes closed trying to process the jury's decision before continuing with the rest of my day.





Johnny Carson Steps Down As "Tonight Show" Host (May 22, 1992)

Bette_midler_johnny_carsonJohnny Carson's final week as host of the Tonight Show in May 1992 coincided with me packing and moving into the Greenwich Village apartment (where I still live in 2014).  My official move-in date wasn't until June 1, but the apartment had been vacant for a number of months so I was permitted to move in early.  While packing during the first half of the week, I tuned in to Tonight and watched a stream of honored celebs pay tribute to Johnny.  On the penultimate telecast, and the first night living at my new address, I watched Bette Midler sing her charming version of You Made Me Watch You to Johnny while she sat on his desk. 



These episodes were more uplifting than the last somewhat somber telecast that simply had Johnny reminiscing about his 30 years as host - with no guests.  Not surprisingly, it delivered a stupendous (for the Late Night time period) Nielsen household rating of 28 and a 63 share of viewing; 41 million persons tuned in (compared to a typical 6.7 million). 



After Johnny left Tonight, it was almost as if he had died as he largely disappeared from public view until his death in 2005.  the Tonight Show's Jay Leno era began three days later on May 25.  Leno remained host until February 2014 when Jimmy Fallon took over the helm (Leno's reign was interrupted briefly in 2009 when Conan O'Brien was appointed host and Leno moved to primetime).  An enjoyable book about Carson's Tonight Show reign is Here's Johnny: 30 Years as America's Favorite Late Night Entertainer.




Three other notable TV events occurred that week in May 1992.  First, Vice President Dan Quayle castigated actress Candice Bergen's Murphy Brown character for having a baby without the benefit of marriage in the show's last episode of the season (Monday, 5/18).




The following day, the names Joey Buttafuoco and Amy Fisher became part of the nation's zeitgeist after 17-year-old Amy (aka "The Long Island Lolita") shot Buttafuoco's wife Mary Jo in the face at the front door of her home.  This tawdry affair was made into three TV movies that aired within weeks of each other at the end of the year (one starred 18-year old Drew Barrymore).  Finally, on Thursday MTV premiered The Real World, which started TV's "reality" craze.




One more thing I remember about this week is that New York experienced an early heat wave - including a sizzling 93° on the day of Carson's last show.  It turned out to be one of the few hot spells during an unseasonably mild summer - apparently, the result of the cooling effect of clouds of ash from the eruption of the Mount Pinatubo volcano in the Philippines the year before.





Final Episode of "Newhart" Airs - One of the Best Ever (May 21, 1990)

Newhart_opening Final episodes of long-running shows often get high ratings, but rarely do they have memorable storylines.  For instance, the final episode of Seinfeld was derided for being a huge disappointment (especially considering the hype).  And although they delivered huge ratings, does anyone recall much that was memorable about the last episodes of M*A*S*H, Cheers or Friends?  However, the final episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show was an exception - as was the sendoff for Newhart which aired the night of May 21, 1990.


Earlier that afternoon I had attended ABC-TV's "upfront" presentation.  (I worked in TV research for ad agency NWAyer, so attending it was part of my job.)  The big news was about Twin Peaks, which had become a sensation the previous month.  It was renewed for next season and was scheduled on Saturday at 10:00 (what a different world it was back then).  At the party held afterwards I had my photo taken with one of the show's stars, Madchen Anick. 


Newhart_final_episode After taking my leave from the raw bar, I rushed home to watch Newhart.  Like everyone else, I was taken completely by surprise by the delightfully zany ending in which Bob (after being hit in the head with a golf ball) wakes up in bed with his wife, Emily (played by Suzanne Pleshette) from his classic Bob Newhart Show from the 1970s - it turned out the Newhart Show was a dream!  This topped the episode's other surprise when the silent brothers "Darrell and the other Darrell" finally spoke.  The telecast posted an 18.9 household rating/29 share (7 share points above the series' season average). 




Tom_poston Suzanne_pleshette Mary_frann Twenty-five years later Bob Newhart is still with us at the age of 85.  Sadly, cast members Mary Frann, Pleshette and Tom Poston have all passed away.  As have the careers of Julia Duffy and Peter Scolari (although he has had a recurring role on HBO's Girls as Hannah's father and Duffy as the mother of the lead character in Looking, another HBO series).


Final Episode of "Seinfeld" Airs, Frank Sinatra Dies (May 14, 1998)

Seinfeld_characterture FranksinatraUntil today the biggest event to occur on my birthday was in 1967 when Mickey Mantle hit his 500th home run.  And in 1981 I feared the pope might die on my birthday after he was shot the day before (happily, he survived.)  But then on May 14, 1998 two big pop culture events occurred: the final episode of Seinfeld and the death of Frank Sinatra.  I watched the disappointing one-hour finale (from a mostly dissatisfying last season) with my friends Matthew and Gary at Matthew's apartment on West 57th St.  Although it was my birthday they weren't aware of it, so when our Chinese take-out arrived I felt odd saying "hey, it's my birthday, are you expecting me to contribute?", so I kept quiet.  (A week earlier I figured I'd be spending this day with my boyfriend, but that relationship suddenly unraveled during a rainy weekend out at Fire Island.)  When I woke up the next morning is when I heard the news that Sinatra had died the previous evening. 


This episode of Seinfeld telecast delivered a 41.3 household rating/58 share, making it the second highest rated show of the season (behind the Super Bowl).  A powerhouse performance for sure, but it was 9% below the last episode of Cheers five years earlier. 




Bing_family_ties Moonlighting Other shows that aired their final episodes on my birthday include Family Ties (1989); West Wing (2004); and Moonlighting (1990).  However, only Family Ties had much of a ratings sendoff (20.8 rating/35 share).  


Rita_hayworth 220px-B_ward01 1939-glinda In addition to Sinatra, some other notable deaths on May 14 were those of Billie Burke (Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz) in 1970; Hugh Beaumont (the father in Leave it to Beaver) in 1982; and 1940s va-va-voom actress Rita Hayworth in 1987.


(If you're a Seinfeld fan but have overdosed from watching it in syndication, a refreshing change might be reading about the show in Seinfeld, Master of its Domain: Revisiting TV's Greatest Sitcom.)  


Rodney King Verdict Sparks Deadly L.A. Riots (April 29, 1992)

Time_la_riots1992 With our lease up for renewal at the end of May 1992, my roommate had decided to move in with his boyfriend and take a new apartment.  Although I didn't want another roommate situation, I couldn't afford to keep the apartment on my own, so I decided to look for a new apartment.  On April 29, a Wednesday, I left work at 4:00 to see two apartments, one a garden apartment on Christopher St., the other a small one-bedroom in the Sheridan Square area of Greenwich Village, both a few short blocks from where I lived.  Largely because of the amount of light it got (it was on the top floor), I decided to take the second apartment (where I still live).



After seeing the apartments I got a haircut and then arrived home shortly before 6:00.  I switched on the evening news and heard the breaking story that the LAPD officers involved in last year's Rodney King beating had been acquitted.  The verdict was met with frightening fury by Los Angeles' black community and rioting began shortly thereafter. 


Rodney_king_cant_we_allgetalong Later that evening a news-copter showed a truck driver being pulled from the cab of his semi at an intersection in South Central LA.  He was kicked repeatedly in the head and bashed with a cinder block.  Like the beating of King, this video clip was aired endlessly.  Two days later an overwrought Rodney King addressed the media and delivered one of the decade's most quotable lines, "Can't we all just get along?"




Two days later, a Friday, I signed my new lease before going to work.  Then later in the day as I was walking back to work after lunch it seemed that everyone from my office (ad agency NW Ayer, located on West 50th St. at Worldwide Plaza) was walking in the opposite direction.  It turned out the office (like many others) had closed early because of wild stories of looting and transit disruptions. 


These rumors turned out to be untrue (e.g., Macy's was being looted, the Brooklyn Bridge had been blocked by rioters), but since no one knew it at the time, my commute home on the subway was made with trepidation as riders wondered what might be occurring above ground.  Indeed, some of the stores in my neighborhood were closed and a few had boarded up their windows. 


Later that afternoon I was curious to see if there had been any further problems in my neighborhood so I went for a run but found nothing out of the ordinary except for a larger police presence.  That night President Bush addressed the nation to assess the situation and assure viewers that calm would prevail and justice served.  


La_riot_fire The inconvenience suffered by New Yorkers on that day paled by comparison to Angelenos who struggled through nearly a week of unrest.  More than 50 persons were killed, thousands were injured or jailed and property damage was close to $1 billion.  Since the turmoil threatened to spread to affluent neighborhoods, some residents there stood on rooftops with guns.  Sporting events were cancelled, freeway and air traffic was disrupted and restricted.  It was the worst rioting in the U.S. since the assassination of Martin Luther King 24 years earlier.



Bill_cosby_showThis unrest coincided with the final episode of the Cosby Show on Thursday.  NBC considered postponing the telecast until the following week, but Cosby was against the idea because he felt airing it as scheduled would maintain a semblance of normalcy.  (He asked NBC if he could address viewers in Los Angeles to plead for calm.)  The episode posted a 28 household rating/45 share (nearly double its season average), making it the 6th highest rated telecast of the 1991/92 season.