A year ago this week, an internet friend passed away after a battle with cancer.
Randy Amasia, by his own admission, thought he was the only big fan of game shows in the world. As the internet grew in popularity in the mid ’90s, he — thankfully — would be proven wrong.
It was hard not to think of Randy yesterday. December 12, 2002 marked a year to the day of Randy’s passing. 12/12/02 also marked the day Peter Marshall guest hosted the main game of that day’s episode of Hollywood Squares — with current Tom Bergeron occupying the center square.
If Randy were still with us, he would’ve been in the audience with bells on when these shows were taped weeks ago. To quote Randy on his (still-existing) website, KrinkleCommunications.com, “Bergeron’s lotsa fun, but Marshall (the series’ original host) is the master of the Hollywood Squares!”
After seeing Thursday’s show, to borrow a line from the contestants, “I agree.” Marshall may have been a bit rusty in Thursday’s episode — but I can easily let it slide. After all, the last time he hosted a round of celebrity tic-tac-toe was 20 years ago. Otherwise, a near flawless performance from the master.
Today’s the last day of a week’s worth of episodes of “game show week” on Squares. With such stars as Marshall, Jim Lange, Wink Martindale, Bob Eubanks, Chuck Woolery, Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers in the grid and cameo appearances with Carol Merrill, Monty Hall, Bob Barker and Rod Roddy, it’s a true shame Randy’s not here to enjoy this gem of a week with the rest of us.
And if he were still with us, he’d note one glaring omission from the grid — Tom Kennedy. In 1979, Randy was a contestant on the game show Whew! — hosted by Kennedy. (Wondering how you pronouncing it? Think of the last time you went through a stressful time and were relieved it was over. You probably reacted by wiping the sweat from your brow and said “Whew!”)
He appeared in only two episodes of the program. The first episode, he won the best two out of three match — and pocketed $1190 for his efforts. Time in that episode didn’t allow him to play the bonus game. So, that was the first thing on the next show’s agenda.
On that next show, he conquered the gauntlet of ten villains and racked up a cool $25,000. The rule at the time: once you exceed the CBS limit of 25-grand, you retire whatever game show you’re on undefeated.
Over time, he managed to get a copy of his first Whew! appearance — but didn’t get the second. He issued several online pleas for that second episode.
When Randy’s health took a turn for the worse, finding that $25,000 win became all the more important. The good news: the episode was found. The bad news: It was too damn late.
By one account, the tape arrived at Randy’s mother’s place an hour before Randy died (his mother reportedly didn’t have a VHS deck at the time). By another account, the tape came after Randy’s death.
When you get a chance, I encourage you to visit www.tv-gameshows.com/wolpert/whew from the game show fan site of Mike Klauss. Most of the Whew! material was written by Randy.