The New Treasure Hunt

(w/help from Randy Amasia, Mark Jeffries, Brian Dominy, Dave Mackey, Jake Tanner, Jon Wood, Tony McClay, and Geoff "The Man" Edwards himself)

Host: Geoff Edwards

Announcer: Johnny Jacobs

Models:
  • Siv Aberg (1973-77)
  • Naome DeVargas (1973-77)
  • Jane Nelson (1973-75)
  • Pamela Hensley (1973-74)
  • Tanya ? (1973-74)
  • Jan Speck (1981-82)

    Regulars:
  • Mike Metzger
  • Ellen Metzger
  • Steve Friedman
  • Tom Pedi (1973-77)
  • Chuck Barris (1973-77)
  • Tony Caciotti (1973-74)
  • Linda Howard (1973-77)

    Broadcast History:
  • Syndicated (weekly) Sep. 10, 1973-Sep. 1977
  • Syndicated (daily) Sep. 14, 1981-Sep. 1982

    Packager: Chuck Barris Productions

    Origination:
  • ABC Television Center, Hollywood (1973-1976)
  • The Burbank Studios (1976-1982)

    Opening spiels:

  • 1973-77: (sotto voice) "Ladies and gentlemen...this bonded security agent has just placed a certified check for $25,000 in one of these thirty surprise packages. Tonight, someone may win any one of our fabulous prizes...or that grand prize of $25,000 on...(resume normal speaking voice) The New Treasure Hunt!"
  • 1981-82: Same as above, but the "thirty" was changed to "sixty-six" (see below), the "tonight" was replaced by "today", and the show was introduced as simply "Treasure Hunt" (sans the adjective).

    Geoff's Catch Phrases:
  • (Opening, 1973-77): "Welcome to The New Treasure Hunt, the television program that offers more prizes and cash than any other show in the world!"
  • (Closing, 1973-77): "Join us next week when 2 more lucky contestants will have the opportunity to go on a treasure hunt, with the possibility of winning $25,000 in cash. Until then, this is Geoff Edwards wishing you good luck...good night!"
  • (Opening, 1981-82): "Welcome to Treasure Hunt, the television program with 66 prize packages, one of which contains a check for $__,000!"
  • (Closing, 1981-82): "Until tomorrow, this is Geoff Edwards wishing you good luck, and goodbye!"

    Premise:
    One of the Chuck Barris's finest creations (IMHO), this was a game based purely on luck; depending on her selection, a contestant could win some money, a nice prize, or a "klunk".


    RULES (1973-77):

    Just prior to the show, 20 of the women in the studio audience (10 from each section) are given boxes. Three of those boxes contain numbers (1, 2, and 3); the rest are empty. On Geoff's command, the 10 women from one section of the audience open their boxes, and the three who find numbers come up on stage.
    Those three lucky women are shown three jacks-in-the-box; the woman who found a "1" in her box gets first pick, the one who found a "2" gets to pick second, and the woman who found "3" gets whatever is left. One jack-in-the-box contains a surprise, and the other two were empty. The woman who gets the "surprise" jack-in-the-box gets an opportunity to pick one of the 30 boxes onstage; the other two return to their seats and recieve consolation prizes.
    Each of the boxes has a cash substitute (usually between $500 - $2,500) that comes with it, and after making her selection, the woman is offered the money in place of the box. Once the contestant makes her decision, the contents of the box are revealed in a suspenseful (and often misleading) presentation, which utilizes one or more props found inside the box, that eventually leads either to cash, prizes, or a worthless booby prize known as a "klunk". These unpredictable presentations (which proved to be near-torturous at times!) were the heart of the show; sometimes a contestant was led to believe that she won big when, in reality, she had been "klunked", other times, a "klunk" could end up leading to a very nice prize, or maybe just another "klunk".
    Some boxes contain cash (varying amounts between $5,000 - $15,000), others contain prizes (cars, trips, furniture packages, etc.), a few contain the aforementioned "klunks", and one box holds the ever-elusive $25,000 grand prize check. (BTW, if a contestant found the box with the $25,000 check in game 1, another check was hidden for game 2; there was at least one episode that had two $25,000 wins. Also, there is no "skit" or props involved in the presentation of the $25,000 check)
    The second game is played the same way, only w/the 10 women from the other section of the audience as the potential participants.

    The 1981 revival was basically the same, but there were a few notable differences:
  • The title was shortened to "Treasure Hunt"
  • 66 boxes to choose from (instead of 30)
  • There were returning champions
  • The cash substitute that came w/each box was usually worth between $500 -$1,000
  • There was a growing jackpot system for the grand prize check, which began at $20,000 and increased by $1,000 for each show that it was not won until it reached $50,000; it then "froze" at that amount until someone won it.

    Also, there was a slightly different system for selecting contestants: a number of audience members were given balloons, one of which contained a star. At Geoff's command, they popped them, and the woman who found a star inside her balloon then got the chance to come onstage and face the returning champion for a chance to pick a box (there were, obviously, only two jacks-in-the-box, and the challenger always got first pick). Champions were allowed to remain on the show as long as they kept getting the "surprise" jack-in the box.


    NOTES:

    This show was a revival of the 1950s game show "Treasure Hunt", which was hosted and created by Jan Murray. The original version had a Q&A round to determine who would get to go on the "treasure hunt", which was actually included in the original pilot for the revival, but it proved rather slow-paced, thus the elimination of that portion and the decision to focus the show entirely on the choosing of the boxes and the prize presentations.

    The main purpose of the show, in the opinion of producer Chuck Barris, was to take advantage of the contestants' emotions; he was the one who coached Geoff on how to perform the skits and make them as dramatic and suspenseful as possible. In fact, a contestant named Vera Augenbach actually fainted onstage after learning that she had won a 1960 classic Rolls-Royce, and Barris was proud of that fact.

    All of the "regulars" who participated in the skits were actually Barris staff members, except for Tony Caciotti, who was actually a pizza delivery man. One night, he happened to be delivering one to Barris, who proceeded to ask Caciotti what he did when he wasn't delievering pizzas. His response? "I'm an actor"; it was then that Chuck invited him to join the TH cast. Caciotti left the show after the first season and went on to marry actress Valerie Harper.

    Following her one-season stint as a TH model, Pamela Hensley went on to star in the 1979-81 series "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century", as Princess Ardala.

    After the 70s TH was cancelled, Siv Aberg later became the scorekeeper/hostess on another Barris creation, "The Gong Show", after which she retired.

    Model Naome DeVargas is the wife of famed Latin actor Val DeVargas.

    Due to security reasons, NO cue cards were permitted on the set. After the contestant selected her box, there was a 15 minute production break, during which time Geoff was briefed about the content of the skit attatched to the chosen box, and the contestant was isolated with a Standards and Practices official and a PA from Barris's staff.

    Emile Autouri, the "bonded security agent" who hid the grand prize check just prior to the show, was actually a security guard at the ABC Vine Street Theater, where two of Chuck Barris's other hit shows, "The Dating Game" and "The Newlywed Game", were taped. One day, Barris asked him if he wanted to be on his new show "Treasure Hunt", and the rest is history...

    BTW, Autouri actually hid the grand prize check...sort of: The number of the box was chosen at random by him (with a S&P official present), then curtains were drawn around the set while he hid the check; the only person he told was director John Dorsey, and only at the end of the show when Geoff would peek into the box to verify that Autouri hid the check. No one else, not even Geoff, knew until that moment.

    Announcer Johnny Jacobs (best known as the voice of virtually every Chuck Barris show from 1980-back) fell ill in late 1981 and was replaced by Tony McClay (who had substituted for Jacobs earlier that season) for the final weeks of the 1981-82 version; he passed away shortly after it was cancelled.

    Why were there no male contestants? Aside from the prevalent belief that women make better contestants, the producers thought that men might not put up with the near-torture involved in the prize presentations, and that if they were "klunked", they might actually deck Geoff. That would NOT have been pretty...

    Believe it or not, Chuck Barris had planned to get REALLY sadistic w/the contestants in what was to have been the fifth season of the 70s version. According to Geoff, his "evil" plans included giving a contestant a new car...and then telling her that all she won was the windshield. After hearing Barris's ideas, Geoff no longer wanted to be a part of the show and quit at the end of the 1976-77 season (clearly to protect his reputation).

    So why did Geoff return to do the 1981 revival? Despite the fact that he was still listed as Executive Producer in the credits, Barris had virtually no involvement with the show, and as a result, Geoff claims that he had much more fun working on that version.