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The first of three unrelated Game Shows with this name was from Wolf Productions, debuting on Mutual radio on October 20, 1945. Contestants chosen from the Studio Audience answered questions of increasing value, with those who reached $500 without missing two questions having the chance to answer one more question to break the Bank.
Originally without a permanent host, Bert Parks took the reins permanently in 1946. The television version debuted on the then-new ABC on October 22, 1948 and proceeded to Channel Hop among ABC, NBC, and CBS. The radio version also hopped around, becoming a daily series from 1950 until its end in 1955.
When the show returned to NBC for its final television season, the show became Break The $250,000 Bank...but nobody ever broke the Bank during that period, and the show was canned on January 15, 1957.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- All or Nothing: Pretty much the point of the show.
- Bonus Round: The question for the Bank.
- Unexpectedly Obscure Answer: The most likely reason why no six-digit, let alone top-prize, wins happened during the $250,000 era.
- Channel Hop: Oh, jeez, did it ever.
- Bank originally aired on ABC from October 22, 1948 to September 23, 1949. On October 5, the show moved to NBC and ran until January 9, 1952. On January 13, Bank moved to CBS until February 1, 1953.
- On March 30, Bank hopped to NBC as a daytime series and re-spawned its nighttime counterpart on June 23; primetime was canned on September 1, with daytime following suit on September 18. On January 31, 1954 Bank returned home to ABC and stayed for two and a half years, ending on June 20, 1956.
- On October 9, Bank beefed-up its top prize to $250,000 and moved to NBC. The show continually failed to give away the stated top prize (or even any six-digit figures) and eventually folded, this time for good, on January 15, 1957.
- The radio series began on Mutual, ending on April 13, 1946. The show moved to ABC from July 5 of that year until September 23, 1949, then to NBC from October 5, 1949 to 1951. Bank went back to ABC from 1951-53, then again to NBC from 1953-55. For the final year (1954-55), the show was simulcast on Mutual.
- A Day in the Limelight: Among the substitute hosts were Peter Donald, Johnny Olson, and Bill Cullen.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Bud Collyer would later go on to host several other game shows, including Beat the Clock.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Only four episodes are known to exist, and only two circulate among collectors; the circulating episodes have the Bank broken for $1,300 and $3,400.
- Long Runner: Twelve years.
- Name's the Same: No relation whatsoever to the other two game shows of this name.