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." 

Highlights
Sonny Fox on how a demotion led to the best time of his career
01:38
Sonny Fox on his epiphany while being held prisoner of war
02:26
Sonny Fox on the joy of hosting Wonderama
01:19
Sonny Fox on wise words out of the mouths of babes
00:51
Sonny Fox on Mr. Revson of Revlon telling him to change his name to be host of The $64,000 Challenge
02:57
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his middle class upbringing in Brooklyn
10:54
On his love of movies and radio as a child; on graduating high school and knowing he would be drafted into World War II
05:38
On serving in World War II; on being a prisoner of war in Germany
17:10
On his first job with Allen Funt on Candid Microphone
08:19
On moving to California and working for Voice of America
02:55
On starting in educational television on The Finder and Let's Take a Trip
12:27
On getting calls to host game shows
01:31

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
22:35
On wanting to produce; on hosting Wonderama
25:59
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
08:00
On hosting Speak Out; on leaving Wonderama  to host The New Yorkers
07:19
On producing Tomorrow with Tom Snyder
03:56

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
25:43
On becoming Vice President of Children's Programming at NBC; On The Junior Hall of Fame  and working with Scholastic Newspapers for kids
15:30
On leaving NBC and producing television movies; on starting Sonny Fox Productions; on New York Channel 11's license negotiations
09:49
On producing The Golden Age of Television  and reintroducing the world to anthology dramas preserved on kinescopes
07:08

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
05:10
On advice to those starting out in television; on advice for those interested in hosting a children's show
03:46
On the highlight of his career; on how he'd like to be remembered
03:17
Shows

$64,000 Question

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Sonny Fox on his short-lived time as host of $64,000 Challenge
11:02

And Baby Makes Six

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Sonny Fox on producing movie of the week And Baby Makes Six
01:36

Candid Camera

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Sonny Fox on getting his first job on Candid Camera with Allen Funt
12:20

Finder, The

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Sonny Fox on his first job in educational television for the children's show The Finder
04:42

Golden Age of Television, The

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Sonny Fox on producing The Golden Age of Television
07:08

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
05:13

Mysterious Two

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Sonny Fox on producing and acting in movie of the week Mysterious Two
02:50

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"
07:08

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"
07:08

Price is Right, The

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Sonny Fox on guest-hosting The Price is Right
02:02

Speak Out

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Sonny Fox on hosting a show for teens called Speak Out
03:37

Tomorrow (1973-82)

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Sonny Fox on producing Tomorrow with Tom Snyder
03:56
Sonny Fox on producing Tomorrow
03:33

Wonderama

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Sonny Fox on the wonderful time he had hosting the children's program Wonderama
19:51
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
01:19
Topics

Emmy Awards

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Sonny Fox on the Television Academy serving the purposes of the Emmy
00:45

Industry Crossroads

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Sonny Fox on the Quiz Show Scandals
05:42

Quiz Show Scandals

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Sonny Fox on the Quiz Show Scandals
05:42

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

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Sonny Fox on producing The Golden Age of Television
07:08

Technological Innovation

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Sonny Fox on the primitive technology on Candid Microphone
01:51
Sonny Fox on the beginning of television
01:23

Television Industry

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Sonny Fox on the Quiz Show Scandals
05:42
Professions

Children's Show Host

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Sonny Fox on advice for those interested in hosting a children's show
02:09

Hosts

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Sonny Fox on advice for those interested in hosting a children's show
02:09
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
04:13
Sonny Fox on his first job in educational television for the children's show The Finder
04:42
Sonny Fox on the wonderful time he had hosting the children's program Wonderama
19:51
Sonny Fox on advice for those interested in hosting a children's show
02:09

Classic Anthology Series

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Sonny Fox on producing The Golden Age of Television
07:08

Game Shows

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Sonny Fox on his short-lived time as host of $64,000 Challenge
11:02
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
01:40

John Cannon

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Sonny Fox on TV Academy President John Cannon
01:26

Colleen Dewhurst

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Sonny Fox on Colleen Dewhurt co-hosting The New Yorkers with him
03:08

Patty Duke

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Sonny Fox on how Patty Duke told him about being given answers for quiz shows in advance
01:22

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
01:40

Allen Funt

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Sonny Fox on learning from Allen Funt
01:20

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
01:45

William S. Paley

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Sonny Fox on William S. Paley and Frank Stanton insisting he host CBS game shows
01:31

Reginald Rose

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Sonny Fox on Reginald Rose wanting his shows to be included in The Golden Age of Television
00:38

Tom Snyder

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Sonny Fox on Tomorrow host Tom Snyder
02:52

Frank Stanton

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Sonny Fox on William S. Paley and Frank Stanton insisting he host CBS game shows
01:31
Sonny Fox on Frank Stanton thanking him for taking a stand on airing footage involving The Pentagon Papers
01:43

Mort Werner

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Sonny Fox on Mort Werner becoming President of the Television Academy
00:22

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