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Interview with Press Your Luck  Champ: Michael McSweeneyMichael McSweeney


    Hello once again everybody! This is our third edition of this, and with me this time is another famous Press champ. Many of you will recognize him from the first infamous Maggie Brown episode which aired on March, 1984. His episodes aired March 8th and 9th. (Shows #122 and 123) He has also been on numerous other game shows, more on that in a few. Right now, I'd like to welcome Mike to the show.

Jason D: Mike, thanks for doing this!

Mike McSweeney: It's my pleasure! Jason, you are a delightful young man and I am happy to work with you.

Introducing Michael

JD: Thanks, that means a lot. Now, a little bit about yourself...

MM: Well, I am a fifty year old High School principal at Seattle, Washington since 1990. I originally grew up in Los Angeles, where I also attended college at USC. While growing up in LA, I was also in a few other game shows.

JD: Ahhh! This segues me to my next question, what other game shows were you on?

MM: Quite a lot! I was on "Password" in 1971 with JoAnne Worley and Verner Klemperer. (Those shows aired June 28 to July 2, 1971) I then appeared on "The Movie Game" with Jane Wyatt as one of the guests. I also appeared on "The Who, What, or Where Game," "The Joker's Wild," and a quick-paced show called "Split Second."
I pretty much made my way through USC on game shows!

Oh yeah, I was also on "The Challengers" in 1991. That was a very interesting game show, but I wasn't too successful on that one.

JD: Wow, that is truly remarkable. How about a round of applause? <audience cheers and applauses> Back to PYL... First off, why did you try out for the show? Looking for Big Bucks? :)

Hit those Big Bucks!

MM: Heh. I always tried out for game shows with the goal of earning money.  I never did it ---- QUOTE---- "For the fun of it".    I always went on game shows hoping to make money. For PYL, My wife and I needed to buy a house and make a down payment. I was genuinely nervous because we really needed the money.

JD: How did the contestant coordinators treat you on the show?

MM: Everyone treated me so nice. They explained everything so thoroughly, and they made me just slightly calmer.

JD: Wow. Did you have any strategies?

MM: My only strategy on PYL was not necessarily a good one.  I answered a lot of questions right and wracked up a whole lot of spins.  This proved to be both good and bad.   AND risky!

Oh no! A whammy!

JD: That's true! Just because someone racks up the most spins doesn't always mean that person may win it. Next question, how did Peter Tomarken treat you guys? Was he nice off-camera?

MM: He was funny, approachable, friendly, and nice. Unlike other shows I was on with older hosts like Allen Ludden, Tom Kennedy, Peter was very young and was "movie star" good looking.

JD: Heh, as Peter said once, "Well, I certainly don't have Crow's Feet since I'm twenty!" Anyway, were your shows the last ones during the tape day, and when did your shows tape? (Of course, I know when they AIRED)

MM: I recall arriving at CBS Television City very early in the morning --- about 6:30 or 7:00.  I will never forget "Maggie" arrived with a bizarre windblown wild hairdo <chuckle> and she announced to all of us contestants:  "My hairdresser is so sweet she opened her shop at 5 am to do my hair."

<audience laughs...even myself!>

I assumed she was joking.   I never knew if she was or not.

JD: Ohh my! I need to compose myself... That's something the staff might want to look into. Trying to move on... <chuckles> You already mentioned your other game show experiences, what do you remember about each of them? This is something I'd really like to hear about. (Password in particular)

MM: Password was heartbreaking.  I was with Werner Klemperer,  "Col. Klink" and the other side had Joanne Worley from "Laugh In".  Werner was a tense, well-educated intellectual who analysed each word and clue. Joanne was a sharp-as-a-tack improv/commedian and she and her contestant kicked my butt! I wish I had played with Joanne. I'm good at Password and would have won.  In the TV industry, Allen Ludden was known to be so nice. (He was married to Betty White.)  I found him to be aloof, disrespectful of the contestants, and acting like a "star".  I did not enjoy the 30 minutes of our lives we shared.

JD: Oooh, I'm sorry to hear that. I personally lovc Password. After all, I host the online version of it. Anyway, more on your other game show appearances in just a moment. Right now, let's pause for these messages.
<audience applauses>

[Commercial break featuring the top baseball moments in history from MasterCard, Chevrolet, Pyramid, and promos for Press Your Luck on GSN.]

JD: Welcome back, everybody! It's great to have you all with us. We're here with former PYL champion, Michael McSweeney. Now, we left off with you talking about your other game shows experiences. Could you please tell us more about them?

MM: Of course! In 1970, I was on an odd little game show called "The Movie Game".  I don't remember the host, but the announcer was the legendary Hollywood writer Army Archerd.  He was so nice.   I won that day's total jackpot ---  a mere $2,000 and a clock radio and a case of floor wax. (Yes, floor wax!) That was really a low-budget show by today's standards.

    I was also a three day winner on a show in the 70s called "Split Second". The daily winner got to choose from one of five cars (only one would start.) I picked wrong car both days I won, but did have a three day winning total of about $7,000 --which in those days was pretty good.

    Of course, the shows were not big money winners in the 70s due to jackpot limits imposed by the federal government during the 50s quiz show scandals.    See Robert Redford's great movie "Quiz Show" to see what I'm talking about.

JD: I have seen it, and I have also read "Prime Time and Misdemeanors." That is a very great and insightful book on the scandals. Thanks for mentioning that. Now, I don't know if you have gotten this a lot, but you seemed really jumpy on your episodes; how nervous were you on PYL?

MM: Just excited to be winning....hoping to win really BIG BUCKS.

Our big winner!

JD: When you started racking up money, how did you feel?

MM: Utterly excited and I had a sort of out-of-body experience.  I thought I was above the set, looking down on myself being taped.  It was a very odd feeling...sort of magical.

JD: Wow, that must feel exhilarating. Now, I have to ask: What did you think of the infamous Maggie on your second episode? What memories do you have of her? Be honest! :-)

MM: Honest, huh? I thought she was the wierdest Hollywood dame I had ever met.

<audience laughs and cheers>

Everything about her was weird --- 1) her job --she claimed to be a manufacturer of metal props used in space movies like Star Trek and Star Wars (Things that klunk!)
2) her hair looked like a rat's nest
3) her voice
But she was not mean or nasty.  She was a nice human being.  I was so
grateful that I had won before that I was not bitter in the least about
losing to her.

JD: Heh! Well put! Did you think you had a chance of winning everything after hitting 3 whammies your 2nd show?

MM: I was on a magic good luck role.  I put my winning in God's hands and knew what ever happened would be God's plan.

JD: Oh! That sounds great, some very wise words. Even though you didn't win your second game, did you have fun?

MM: I regretted losing, but did not mind.

JD: Was going on PYL a great experience for you?

MM: It was a very wonderful experience. I took my winnings and my wife and I bought the house we still live in to this day.  It was enough of a down payment that it got us into a house that (at the time) was actually above our price range, above our budget.   Today that $100,000 house is worth
$350,000 and we only owe $40,000 more on it.

JD: Well, congratulations on that! Before you know it, that money will be paid off in no time! Are you still recognized as being a contestant from the show?

MM: When the show appears on Game Show Network, people I know do call me and say it is on.   I have never been recognized on the street, however. Actually, I no longer look the way I did in 1984.  My curly brown long hair (white boy Afro) turned gray then white in 1990 when I served in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War.  I am not bald and still have hair, but I began shaving my head bald about two years ago.  People my age say I look like Mr. Clean. People your age say I look like a WWF wrestler.

JD: My age?!? :-D By the way, it is great to hear that you served for your country in the Gulf War, and we all salute you!  Back to the show, do you remember anything about the other shows during your PYL taping day?

MM: PYL was taped on the set of my wife's favorite soap opera "The Young and the Restless".  The PYL set was tucked in the same corner of the soundstage from that show.  The make up man from "Y & R" did my make up and he got autographed  8x10 photos of the entire cast as a gift for my wife.   Kind
people like that always make me fond of CBS and the wonderful old CBS Television City studio which was the home of classic TV variety shows like Carol Burnett, Judy Garland, etc.

My memory may be fuzzy, but I think I was on the second and third show of the day.  A very sweet Fillipino woman named "Nita" had been the winner until I beat her on my Day #1.

JD: Yeah, that's pretty much right! Also, the people there at CBS really are swell, and everyone has always been so great. That's why I love going there from time to time. Anything else you'd like to say?

MM: Well, I heard there is a TV museum in North Hollywood, but I have never been there.

JD: Actually, it is in Beverly Hills, and I actually have a site devoted to it here. Well, it looks like we have run out of time. Michael, thanks for being a great guest, and you will definitely be among the millions saluted when us fellow Americans pay tribute to everyone serving our country on 9/11. We should do this again, and expect a very nice e-mail from me on that day. We salute you!

MM: Thanks so much, and so long ---- Best wishes from Seattle, Washington.    God bless you.

JD: You're very welcome! God bless you, too! Also to everyone else out there!
For now, this is Jason Hernandez signing off and saying, thanks for Pressing Your Luck. Bye Bye!

**Special thanks go out to Matt Ottinger and his compendium of game show links for all of those 70's shows.

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