Do you want to be Queen for a Day? This question was often heard coming from my TV. On the screen, cameras would zoom in on an unsuspecting Queen for a Day audience member. Little did I dream, when my friend Gerri got us tickets for the October 29, 1956, show, that that surprised audience member would be me!
When we arrived at the theater, we were each handed a card on which to write what we would like to have if we were chosen to be Queen for a Day. I wrote repair car—and was chosen to be a contestant.
Onstage, when it was my turn to speak, I told the show’s host, Jack Bailey, my story.
After being married for 13 years, my darling husband, Ray, took our family on a vacation to Lake Tahoe. On the third day of the trip, at age 36, he died of a massive heart attack. I was left with two daughters, four and eight, and an unexpected gift—I was pregnant. Eight months later, I had a baby boy whom I named after his father. In order to help meet my financial obligations each month, I cared for two other children during the day. At that time, my car was in desperate need of repairs, which I couldn’t afford.
“God may have taken my husband,” I said, finishing my story, “but he gave me a son.”
The audience applause meter overwhelmingly indicated that I was voted Queen for a Day.
I was swept off my feet when the robe and crown were fitted to me. A dozen red roses were placed in my arms. Photographers snapped my picture as I sat on the Queen for a Day throne. The prizes included a $500 college fund for my nine-month-old son, a trip to San Francisco for two, one $50 gift certificate for clothes from the Spiegel catalog, toys for my two girls, car repairs from Pep Boys, a set of luggage, a dishwasher, an Ironrite iron, a Helbros watch, and Sarah Coventry jewelry.
I also was invited to meet Ginger Rogers, and my face was done by a professional makeup artist. A very good haul for 1956!
My youngest daughter recalls coming home from school that day and thinking the house seemed to be filled with flowers and gifts from the show! My oldest daughter remembers seeing me out front holding the roses with a huge smile on my face.
In 1957, I married another wonderful man. Phil was a widower with two children named Richard and Laurie. My children’s names were Lynne, Leslie, and Ray. The three L’s and two R’s were a sign that we were meant to be.
We’d been married 47 years when he passed away in 2005. Together we had five children, ten grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren.