The Story of Carol Wayne and “Celebrity Sweepstakes”

Dear Inman: I remember a buxom actress from the 1970s named Carol Wayne. Seems like she used to appear on a game show. Can you tell me the title and what it was about? – S.O., Mansfield, OH

Dear S.O.: Carol Wayne was an actress best known as “The Matinee Lady” on “The Tonight Show,” accompanying host Johnny Carson whenever he did sketches dressed up as Art Fern, the sleazy host of “The Tea Time Movie.”

Then in 1974 there came “Celebrity Sweepstakes,” an NBC game show that featured Wayne as one of the regular contestants. Here’s how it worked: Host Jim McKrell would read a question and then the audience would vote on which celebrity on the panel would answer the question correctly. If the contestant picked a longshot (invariably, Carol Wayne was 99:1) and the celebrity answered correctly, the contestant’s money was multiplied by the odds. Other celebrities on the panel included Joey Bishop, Buddy Hackett, George Hamilton and Freddie Prinze.

“Celebrity Sweepstakes” went great guns until it went up against the newly expanded “The Price Is Right” on CBS, and it went off the air in 1976.

Carol Wayne died in 1985, of a drowning in Mexico. She was 42. Here’s a video on Wayne’s life from the E! show “Mysteries and Scandals”:

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