Jimmy Stewart question socks it to 'Millionaire' contestant
Muhlenberg College graduate Andy Smith was recently a contestant on the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."
Smith, a Realtor with Keller Williams Real Estate, Bethlehem, spoke about his experience on the show which aired on March 10.
"I decided to audition after my high school friend, Vance Farrell, of Allentown called me the day before the auditions at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem and said, 'You are smart. You should try out.'" Smith explained. "So, I showed up at the auditions Oct. 8, 2013, and took a timed test filling out my answers on a Scantron sheet."
Smith, a 1985 graduate of Palmerton High School, and a 1989 graduate of Muhlenberg, said he was given approximately 30 types of general to specific questions to answer.
"There were about 100 people who went in to take the test at the same time," Smith said. "Only eight or so people passed during my testing round.
"After the show staff indicated you passed, they called the eight people to come back stage and we were interviewed individually by a production assistant."
Smith had the impression if the production assistant thought a potential contestant had personality, that person was interviewed by another person whom he thinks was the director.
"The auditions were general in the morning," Smith said. "In the afternoon, they were doing auditions for the '70s, 80s, etc., so I decided to stick around."
As he is 47 years old, he took the '80s test and passed.
"I was interviewed in the afternoon in the same manner as I was in the morning," Smith said. "We did not have much of an interview and he [the director] just did a taping of me and asked me about five questions."
"The director asked me, as the show was doing decade weeks, if I would be interested in doing that," Smith said. "I told him I still had my parachute pants. "Then, I added if they don't fit, one of my friend's, who is a costume designer, could make them fit."
Six days after the audition, on Oct. 14, Smith received a phone call from Grace Kimmick of the show saying he was chosen to be a contestant.
The show was taped at the ABC Television Studios in New York City and hosted by Cedric the Entertainer.
"I had very little interaction with Cedric other than during game play," Smith stated. "No one met him prior to the start of the game."
"During breaks during the game, he was busy talking to the director, stage manager, etc.," he said. "We had good chemistry with one another, but I wasn't left with any impression of him to say what type of person he might be."
His father Dr. Charles Smith of South Whitehall Township, a retired pediatrician, and his sister, Julie Golin, who lives in Manhattan, accompanied him to the studio on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for the taping on Oct. 22.
His mother, Lorraine, died in May 2005.
"I have to mention it was beautiful fellow Realtors Anna Ponomarev, Lena Azar, Kate Schaffner and Taunya Belton from Keller Williams took the bus together at 5:30 a.m. to come and sit in the audience all day until 4 p.m. to cheer me on," Smith said.
Smith arrived 6:45 a.m. and was kept in the green room with 10 other people.
"I did not get on stage until 3:30 p.m. and it only took 20 to 25 minutes to tape my segment for the show," he explained. "I won $41,000 but the rules state if you do not make it to the $100,000 question, you keep half your winnings, which for me was $20,500."
Smith said the difficulty of the questions and the value are jumbled so contestants do not know what amount they may win.
"I had two more questions to get to $100,000," he said.
Smith reached the eighth question, answered five correctly and passed on three.
The lifelines on the show are different from when he watched the show years ago.
"The three lifelines now are you get to jump two questions and ask the audience," Smith said. "I originally asked the audience for help with a question but was not comfortable with their answers, so I jumped the question.
"The question I walked away from was "Not as flashy as a sports car, in 1947, actor Jimmy Stewart appeared in print ads for which product? (a) Warren's Mint Cocktail Gum (b) Holeproof Socks (c) Twice Rich Tomato Juice or (d) Maxwell House Coffee," Smith said.
Smith said it was a wonderful experience being on the show.
"I had my 15 minutes of fame and it was a good day's work," Smith said. "I would go back and do it in a heart beat."
He would recommend participating on the show to anyone.
Smith plans on paying some bills and buying something, but not too fancy, as a memento of his experience on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"
Oh, and by the way, the answer to the question is (b) Holeproof Socks.