Queen for a Day (1956–1964)

TV Series  -   -  Game-Show | Reality-TV
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Four women, each with a sob story, vie to become "Queen for a Day."

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Title: Queen for a Day (1956–1964)

Queen for a Day (1956–1964) on IMDb 5.1/10

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1956   1954  


Series cast summary:
Marguerite Renish ...
 Herself (1 episode, 1954)
Robert Renish ...
 Himself (1 episode, 1954)
Jack Bailey ...
 Himself - Host (1 episode, 1956)
Jeanne Cagney ...
 Herself - Fashion Commentator (1 episode, 1956)


"Do YOU want to be Queen for a Day?!" Host Bailey would bellow out those words before each program, to which the audience would reply en masse: "YES!" Four women, each having a sob story to tell, told Bailey why they believed they should be crowned the show's "Queen." Usually, each contestant asked for a merchandise prize, such as a washer and dryer. After all four stories were told, the audience determined the winner by applause (determined via the "applause meter"). The winner won her prizes, plus was bedecked in a sable-trimmed red velvet robe and jeweled crown. Interspersed between the contestants' stories was fashion commentary. Written by Brian Rathjen <briguy_52732@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Release Date:

3 January 1956 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Despite its long run, less than 10 episodes survive of this popular series. Please check your attic. See more »


Referenced in The 50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

What about the women who did NOT win on a particular day?!
14 May 2014 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I've heard many people over the years lament about the awful state of American television. Sometimes they complain about all the violence but mostly I hear people complaining about reality television and how exploitive and stupid the shows are. I agree, at least in part, as many TV shows just seem cheap and are apparently meant to appeal to our baser instincts. Programs that celebrate and exploit nasty people have lowered our TV standards to amazingly low depths—such as recent shows that have featured folks eating bugs for bucks or smack-down talk shows. Surely, TV back in the good 'ol days was a lot better….right? Well, maybe…but not always. There were a few tacky and exploitive shows even back when your parents and grandparents were young—so don't believe them when they tell you that EVERYTHING was better way back when! Perhaps these shows lacked the nudity, violence and coarse language we're familiar with today, but in one case, all these would be BETTER than what one show brought audiences. Queen for a Day was perhaps the sickest and tackiest reality game shows of all time. In fact, the program was so successful that it was first on radio in 1945 and moved to TV in 1956. And, despite being so tacky and gross, it stayed on television until 1964! That's almost 20 years of misery inflicted on America!

Why do I think that Queen for a Day was one of the lowest television shows of all time? Well, let me describe a typical program. One by one, various women are brought out on stage and are interviewed by the host, Jack Bailey. The purpose of this is to try to get each woman to describe her life as being the worst of all the women that particular day. So, your story of wretchedness has to be WORSE than the other women also interviewed that day. And, if it was, you would be showered with really nice prizes. And, if your story wasn't the most pathetic, you were given a rather insignificant consolation prize and no one heard from you again on the show!

Unfortunately (or, perhaps FORTUNATELY) very few episodes of Queen for a Day still exist today. I've seen a few and was just shocked. In one show from 1960, three of the women had seriously disabled children—so each had to make sure her child seemed the most needy and sick! Following all their tales of woe, the audience then voted by clapping the loudest for the most pitiful woman and she was crowned Queen for a Day. Some of the prizes they gave out were very nice and quite expensive. However, some of the prizes seemed highly inappropriate for destitute families—such as tickets to a movie premier and a limo ride! I would have preferred groceries and money for rent!

In addition to all this inanity, the show was, oddly, punctuated by a fashion show! And, to make matters worse, Mr. Bailey was probably the dumbest and most annoying host in game show or reality TV history. I noticed many times women would talk about their awful lives and he would ask terrible questions that showed he wasn't even listening to them. For example, one woman talked about her children—and he then asked her if she had any kids!

So, if you think things are horrible now, take a step back and realize that crap isn't new to television. Sure, there might be more crap today, but as far as crap goes, you cannot get much crappy than Queen for a Day!

By the way, if you are brave (or nuts), there is a chance for you to watch the show. While very, very few of the original shows still exist (I think they were trying to destroy the evidence and erased most of the tapes), you can download a few for free from archive.org or rent the three-disc set from Netflix. Don't take my word for it—see it for yourself if you dare! You'll be amazed!

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