G. E. College Bowl
College Bowl Games. This season we think of the Cotton Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Rose Bowl, etc. But in yesteryear times it also meant selected academic participants making mental moves...one college/university pitted against another--the G. E. College Bowl.
College Bowl was a format of college-level quizbowl run and operated by College Bowl Company, Incorporated. It had a format similar to the current NAQT format. College Bowl first aired on US radio stations in 1953, and aired on US television from 1959 to 1970. After a seven-year hiatus following its cancellation on television, the game reappeared on college campuses in 1977 through an affiliation with the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) that lasted for 31 years. In 2008, the College Bowl Company announced its suspension of the College Bowl program, citing increased costs and financial infeasibility of continuing to work with ACUI.
Though a pilot was shot in the Spring of 1955, the game did not move to television until 1959. As G.E. College Bowl with General Electric as the primary sponsor, the show ran on CBS from 1959–1963, and moved back to NBC from 1963-1970. Allen Ludden was the original host, but left to do Password full-time in 1962. Robert Earle was moderator for the rest of the run. The norm developed in the Ludden-Earle era of undefeated teams retiring after winning five games. One upset occurred in 1961, when the small liberal arts colleges of Hobart and William Smith in Geneva, New York, defeated Baylor University to retire undefeated as the third colleges, along with Rutgers and Colgate, to do so. Another example, Lafayette College retired undefeated in Fall 1962 after beating the University of California Berkeley for its fifth victory, a David and Goliath event.
One of the great upsets in College Bowl history—or indeed, in the history of any intercollegiate competition—came on March 6, 1966, when a small women's school, Agnes Scott College, took on the defending champions from Princeton University, which had challenged and defeated a team from Mount Holyoke College the previous week. Agnes Scott's four-woman team of Malinda Snow, Betty Butler (later Ravenholt), Katherine Bell (later Hunter) and Karen Gearreald fell behind 185-130 with less than two minutes remaining. With just a few seconds left on the clock, Butler correctly answered a toss-up question about Einstein, and Gearreald nailed the bonus question ("For twenty points, what were Balmung and Durandal?" "Swords!") to give Agnes Scott a shocking 220-215 victory. Ironically, Gearreald was blind and could not see the clock; she had no idea only a few moments were left in the game.
Agnes Scott came back the next week, but was defeated by Marietta College, 230-115; the 1966 games constituted its only College Bowl appearance.
Betty Butler Ravenholt went on to become a scholar and writer in the field of health policy in emerging nations. Katherine Bell Hunter earned a master's degree from Wake Forest University and a PhD from the University of Alberta; she later taught botany at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gearreald, Agnes Scott's first blind student, went on to earn a master's and doctorate from Harvard University in English literature and linguistics, and a juris doctorate from Duke University. In 1997, Gearreald was elected Agnes Scott’s Outstanding Alumna for Distinguished Career. Malinda Snow earned master's and PhD degrees from Duke University and teaches English at Georgia State University.
Princeton's captain, Steve Chernicoff, went on to become a five-time champion on Jeopardy! in its 1994-95 season and won over $83,000. He later advanced to the quarterfinals of the Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions in 2005.
The complete episode...