Sonny Fox

Host/ Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, Sonny Fox speaks about his teenage years and viewing World War II as his "ticket" to independence, and details how serving in the war and being held as a POW in Nazi Germany changed his life. He describes his start in show business, working with Allen Funt on radio's "Candid Microphone" (the precursor to Candid Camera) and offers both a vivid portrait of Funt and of the staging of stunts for the program. He outlines his entry into network television at CBS, as host of the children's informational series Let's Take a Trip, and speaks frankly about his unsuitability and subsequent firing as the host of $64,000 Challenge. He discusses the behind-the-scenes dealings on the show, and although not directly involved, comments on the quiz show scandals that erupted in the late 1950s. Fox also recounts his years as the host of the local New York children's show Wonderama, and expresses how he truly cherished working with the kids in the studio audience. He recalls his role as a producer for NBC's Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, touches on his years as Chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and talks about his experiences as Vice President of Children's Programming at NBC.  Fox also shares tales of starting his own production company and of resurrecting classic anthology dramas with the PBS series The Golden Age of Television. Karen Herman conducted the interview in Encino, CA on July 16, 2008.

"You start out by respecting your audience.  You start out saying these kids are not to be exploited. They're not just an audience that you look at as rating points, but each one is an individual human being that has tremendous potential but also is a little dangerous… They still listen to the voices that we forget to listen to when we grow up… That's what makes them fascinating." 

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Sonny Fox on how a demotion led to the best time of his career
Sonny Fox on his epiphany while being held prisoner of war
Sonny Fox on the joy of hosting Wonderama
Sonny Fox on wise words out of the mouths of babes
Sonny Fox on Mr. Revson of Revlon telling him to change his name to be host of The $64,000 Challenge
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his middle class upbringing in Brooklyn
On his love of movies and radio as a child; on graduating high school and knowing he would be drafted into World War II
On serving in World War II; on being a prisoner of war in Germany
On his first job with Allen Funt on Candid Microphone
On moving to California and working for Voice of America
On starting in educational television on The Finder and Let's Take a Trip
On getting calls to host game shows

Chapter 2

On his short-lived time as host of $64,000 Challenge; on guest hosting on several other game shows; on the Quiz Show scandals
On wanting to produce; on hosting Wonderama
On advertising and commercials on Wonderama; on how children got on the show; on two other short-lived shows he hosted: Just For Fun and On Your Mark
On hosting Speak Out; on leaving Wonderama  to host The New Yorkers
On producing Tomorrow with Tom Snyder

Chapter 3

On producing Tomorrow; on The Selling of The Pentagon; on his involvement with The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in New York
On becoming Vice President of Children's Programming at NBC; On The Junior Hall of Fame  and working with Scholastic Newspapers for kids
On leaving NBC and producing television movies; on starting Sonny Fox Productions; on New York Channel 11's license negotiations
On producing The Golden Age of Television  and reintroducing the world to anthology dramas preserved on kinescopes

Chapter 4

On his then-current projects and serving on the board of Population Communications International; on starting his own consulting company to use storytelling to make a difference for important causes
On advice to those starting out in television; on advice for those interested in hosting a children's show
On the highlight of his career; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

$64,000 Question

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Sonny Fox on his short-lived time as host of $64,000 Challenge

And Baby Makes Six

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Sonny Fox on producing movie of the week And Baby Makes Six

Candid Camera

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Sonny Fox on getting his first job on Candid Camera with Allen Funt

Finder, The

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Sonny Fox on his first job in educational television for the children's show The Finder

Golden Age of Television, The

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Sonny Fox on producing The Golden Age of Television

Let's Take a Trip

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Sonny Fox on working on the first weekly, remote television show at CBS, chldren's show Let's Take a Trip

Mysterious Two

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Sonny Fox on producing and acting in movie of the week Mysterious Two

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse: "Marty"

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Sonny Fox on producing The Golden Age of Television, including Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse's "Marty"

Playhouse 90: "Requiem for a Heavyweight"

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Sonny Fox on producing The Golden Age of Television, including Playhouse 90's "Requiem for a Heavyweight"

Price is Right, The

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Sonny Fox on guest-hosting The Price is Right

Speak Out

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Sonny Fox on hosting a show for teens called Speak Out

Tomorrow (1973-82)

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Sonny Fox on producing Tomorrow with Tom Snyder
Sonny Fox on producing Tomorrow

Wonderama

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Sonny Fox on the wonderful time he had hosting the children's program Wonderama
Sonny Fox on how working on Wonderama inspired him to clean up Central Park and to use the power of television to make a difference
Topics

Emmy Awards

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Sonny Fox on the Television Academy serving the purposes of the Emmy

Industry Crossroads

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Sonny Fox on the Quiz Show Scandals

Quiz Show Scandals

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Sonny Fox on the Quiz Show Scandals

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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Sonny Fox on producing The Golden Age of Television

Technological Innovation

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Sonny Fox on the primitive technology on Candid Microphone
Sonny Fox on the beginning of television

Television Industry

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Sonny Fox on the Quiz Show Scandals
Professions

Children's Show Host

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Sonny Fox on advice for those interested in hosting a children's show

Hosts

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Sonny Fox on advice for those interested in hosting a children's show
Genres

Children's Programming

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Sonny Fox on working on the first weekly, remote television show at CBS, children's show Let's Take a Trip
Sonny Fox on his first job in educational television for the children's show The Finder
Sonny Fox on the wonderful time he had hosting the children's program Wonderama
Sonny Fox on advice for those interested in hosting a children's show

Classic Anthology Series

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Sonny Fox on producing The Golden Age of Television

Game Shows

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Sonny Fox on his short-lived time as host of $64,000 Challenge
People

Jack Barry

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Sonny Fox on host of 21, Jack Barry, found to be at fault in the Quiz Show Scandals

John Cannon

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Sonny Fox on TV Academy President John Cannon

Colleen Dewhurst

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Sonny Fox on Colleen Dewhurt co-hosting The New Yorkers with him

Patty Duke

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Sonny Fox on how Patty Duke told him about being given answers for quiz shows in advance

Dan Enright

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Sonny Fox on Dan Enright, one of the producers found to be at fault in the Quiz Show Scandals

Allen Funt

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Sonny Fox on learning from Allen Funt

Robert F. Kennedy

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Sonny Fox on Robert F. Kennedy coming on Wonderama and the Senator's gift for talking with kids

William S. Paley

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Sonny Fox on William S. Paley and Frank Stanton insisting he host CBS game shows

Reginald Rose

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Sonny Fox on Reginald Rose wanting his shows to be included in The Golden Age of Television

Tom Snyder

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Sonny Fox on Tomorrow host Tom Snyder

Frank Stanton

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Sonny Fox on William S. Paley and Frank Stanton insisting he host CBS game shows
Sonny Fox on Frank Stanton thanking him for taking a stand on airing footage involving The Pentagon Papers

Mort Werner

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Sonny Fox on Mort Werner becoming President of the Television Academy

All Interviews

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