Elfrida von Nardroff, 96, dies; Earned a lot of money on a fixed quiz

After two years of substandard work at Duke University, Ms von Nardroff was suspended for a semester. She described herself in This Week as having been a “rebellious, raccoon skin and champagne rebel of the 1920s”. She studied diligently after being reinstated, majoring in English, and graduated in 1947.

She has held a variety of positions including secretary to a dietetic doctor, ticket agent at Northwest Airlines, proofreader at House Beautiful magazine, and director of personnel at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She was working at the institute, where she was earning $ 500 a month, when she received a call in late 1956 from a woman working for Mr. Barry and Mr. Enright, whose company produced “Tic-Tac-Dough “as well as” Twenty-One. ” The woman was looking for smart candidates for both shows.

According to Ms von Nardroff’s account in This Week, her roommate watched “Tic-Tac-Dough” and sprinkled it with questions from the show, all of which she answered correctly. This success prompted Mrs. von Nardroff to call back in April 1957 and ask to try the show; when she passed the 20-minute written test, she took another, which lasted three hours, for “Twenty-One” and also qualified.

But she didn’t make the most of her time as the winner of “Twenty-One” for long.

Months after winning the $ 220,500, Manhattan District Attorney Frank S. Hogan called a grand jury to investigate the quizzes. Herbert Stempel, whom Mr Van Doren beat in “Twenty-One”, revealed that the producers coached him a lot. An inquiry by the House subcommittee on legislative oversight in 1959 followed. (The scandal became the focus of the 1994 film “Quiz Show,” directed by Robert Redford.)

Joseph Stone, a Manhattan assistant district attorney who led the quiz investigation for Mr. Hogan, later recalled that Albert Freedman, the producer of “Twenty-One,” provided Ms. von Nardroff with questions and answers. answers in his office and in his Brooklyn apartment.

“When he offered her the usual arrangement, she was initially reluctant, but then accepted and reigned as champion until July 8, 1958, receiving help throughout,” he wrote in “Prime Time and Misdemeanors: Investigating the 1950s Quiz Show Scandal – A DA’s Account” (1992, with Tim Yohn).

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