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The Magnificent Marble Machine 

One of TV game show's legendary flops, a celebrity-contestant team answered questions and played a giant pinball game for cash and prizes.


Bob Synes




1   Unknown  
1976   1975  


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Series cast summary:
Art James Art James ...  Self - Host 31 episodes, 1975-1976
Johnny Gilbert ...  Self - Announcer 15 episodes, 1975-1976


Although "Magnificent Marble Machine" was short-lived, and received it's share of criticism, host Art James kept the show moving in the same low-key and friendly style he had used on his prior game shows like "Say When!" and "The Who, What, Or Where Game". Art James was probably the most under-rated game show host in television history and many fans of the genre believe his talents as a host should receive greater recognition. Written by Joseph

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Did You Know?


This show was a notorious flop and the first problem was the "marble machine." It was huge, unbalanced and very uncooperative. It was about 20 feet high and 14 feet wide and almost impossible to play. The carpentry shop at NBC had wisely decided not to build it because they could see from the designs that it had a lot of flaws and questionable engineering. It was subcontracted out to an independent scenery shop. It was shipped in sections to NBC on a Friday but was back in the workshop the next week. In removing the largest section from the truck at the NBC loading dock it fell and cracked wide open. It was repaired and some of the problems were corrected when it was sent to NBC. It was still a fragile giant. Normally a set would move out of its studio after taping so that another show could use the space but the "marble machine" would break each time it was moved so the tapings were held day after day until there were enough for the first half season. Fortunately that was several more shows than were needed as the show was yanked before the end of 1975 and no one ever heard from the "Magnificent Marble Machine" again. See more »


Featured in The China Syndrome (1979) See more »

User Reviews

A Major 70s Flop
16 February 2008 | by hfan77See all my reviews

Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley created and produced game shows with larger than life sets such as Video Village, Gambit, High Rollers, the kids game show Runaround and their biggest hit Hollywood Squares. But the duo was also involved with the major 70s flop The Magnificent Marble Machine. The machine itself was very large and fragile and suffered from numerous technical problems. Also, the format and scoring system changed several times throughout the show's run, usually a sign of a bad show. A good show has a consistent format viewers identify and play along with but this one probably left viewers confused with the changes. Even worse, the show went to an all-celebrity format, another case of a show's death knell (for those who remember the 70s version of Password).

There were only two things good about the show. The first was host Art James, who guided the show smoothly through all the confusion and the main game that featured clues on an electronic marquee. Also Mort Garson's electronic theme was outstanding and carnival-like. But for the rest of the show---TILT!

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Release Date:

7 July 1975 (USA) See more »

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