In 1958, reports were made public that contestants on popular television quiz shows were coached or received answers to the questions before broadcast. The House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee’s Special Subcommittee on Legislative Oversight responded to the allegations by holding hearings to investigate the claims during October and November 1959. Regulating communications fell under the committee’s jurisdiction.
In 1959, Patty Duke was a pre-teen Broadway star in The Miracle Worker. The year before, Duke had appeared as a contestant on the $64,000 Challenge, where she won $32,000. However, in closed executive session testimony, Duke revealed that she had been told beforehand what topics she should study. Along with similar testimony from other contestants, the committee’s investigation led to an amendment of the Communications Act of 1934 making it illegal to rig quiz shows.
Transcripts such as Duke’s testimony are often included in hearing files maintained by House committees. Access by researchers to executive session records is restricted for 50 years from the date of creation.