On September 19, 1983, CBS debuted the daytime game show “Press Your Luck”. It was the most memorable revival of the original ABC’s ‘Second Chance’ from 1977. The classic game show that involved Big Bucks and Whammies only lasted three years on CBS but rose to prominence in afternoon reruns on USA Network from 1987 to 1995.
Here are the top five moments of “Press Your Luck”:
1. Michael Larson
In May 1984, this ice cream truck driver from Ohio became the game’s most famous (and infamous) contestant by winning $110,237 which was the largest one-day total earnings on a daytime game show at the time and a record that would last until 2006. With technology at its infancy in the early 80’s, Larson had noticed in previous episodes (via taped editions on his VCR) that the lighted squares on the show’s big board of cash, prizes and Whammies had moved in repeated limited patterns, making it simple to avoid Whammies while continuing to earn money without losing spins. Larson’s game ran so long that it aired across two episodes on CBS on June 8 and 11, 1984, with the latter date being the series’ highest-rated episode in its run. GSN aired a hit 2003 documentary detailing Larson, his ‘Press Your Luck’ stint, and his life thereafter.
2. Longest Spin Battle in Series History
This classic moment had two female contestants, Cathy and Lori, passing one spin back and forth eight times over the span of nearly ten minutes (five minutes when edited for television).
3. Mel Blanc Calls in as ‘Sylvester’
The man whose legendary voice for many of Warner Bros.’ cartoon characters called Peter Tomarken, the game show’s host, in the voice of Sylvester the cat to inform him that “Sufferin’ Succotash!” was his catchphrase and not Daffy Duck’s, an answer the show had originally labeled as correct.
4. Very First Three-Way Scoreless Tie
The Feb. 3, 1985 episode made series infamy as contestants Dorothy, Wayne and Joe all wound up winning no money to end the game. All three would return to compete the next day.
5. Crazy Karen
The most famous contestant featured in the preface to many “Press Your Luck” episodes was this enthusiastic woman. She and her family had also previously competed on the Richard Dawson-hosted “Family Feud.”
“Press Your Luck” currently airs in reruns on GSN and Fremantle Media’s digital subchannel BUZZR.