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Gloria Lockerman
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TV Game Show Contestant
    (October 29, 1942-August 29, 2010)
    Resided in Baltimore, Maryland
    12-year old National Spelling Bee champion
    Contestant on the CBS-TV quiz show, 'The $64,000 Question' (first appearing on Aug. 17, 1955)
    Won $8,000 for properly spelling the word 'antidisestablishmentarianism'
    Chose to walk after winning an unprecedented $16,000 total on the show, bowing out on the advice of her grandmother, Mrs. Bertha Keye
    Also won a new bike, a tape recorder, a television set, and a year's comic book subscription
    Made a guest appearance on 'The Martha Raye Show,' alongside Tallulah Bankhead (September 20, 1955)
    Became the center of a national outrage after Raye and Bankhead were seen publicly hugging her at the end of the show (the negative feedback from the incident is believed to have resulted in the Martha Raye Show being pulled off the air)
    Any and all footage of her history-making television appearances have either been destroyed or lost.
    She had the chance to double her money and go for the $64,000 jackpot, but walked.
    She made her decision with the reasoning 'I'd rather be Gloria the undefeated champion than Gloria the girl who lost!'
    She attracted a national following with her ability to spell out long-winded phrases like 'the belligerent astigmatic anthropologist annihilated innumerable chrysanthemums.'
    Historians have since noted that much of the public fascination was derived less because of her age, than from the fact that she was a 'black girl' of staggeringly high intelligence.
    If any proof was needed of perceived tokenism, contemporary newspapers and magazine articles covering her achievements almost always associated the word 'negro,' either before or after her name.
    Her celebrity and the controversy surrounding it remained forgotten for years, but resurfaced when several statements made by Norman Lear (who had worked on the Martha Raye Show) recalling the incident came to people's attention.
    This included an interview with the TV Land for Archives of American Television, in which Lear incorrectly recalled her name as being 'Joy,' and inaccurately stating that she had won the entire $64,000 prize.
    She had a photographic memory.
    She graduated High School at the age of 16, paying for college with her winnings.
    She participated in Civil Rights movement demonstrations in the 1960s.
    She is referenced in a famous Honeymooners episode satirizing 'The 64,000 Question' ('spell antidisestablishmentarianism').
    She was declared an honorary schoolteacher in her hometown.
    She retired into private citizenry after graduating and usually turned down interview requests.
    Her desire for anonymity was so great that, when a New York Times reporter succeeded in tracking her down in 1987, she wouldn't talk to him until he agreed not to share her married name, her current residency, or even quote her directly or show a photo of her.
    The innocent and unprompted display of interracial affection by Bankhead and Raye was one of the first times that the color barrier was broken on American television (preceding Frankie Lymon dancing with a white girl on Alan Freed's 'Big Beat' show by two years).
    The dustup over the televised social protest also preceded Rosa Parks' arrest and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (tagged as the spark for the Civil Rights movement) by three months.
    She was invited the following year to reappear on 'The $64,000 Question,' competing with Greenwich's Andy Douglass, who was white. When the two tied, the producers opted to split the $32,000 pot between them (the news was reported internationally, outraging many viewers).
    Her newfound celebrity scored her meetings with Duke Ellington and Ezio Pinza, at the NYC Le Ruban nightclub, and later with Archie Moore and gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. She was also seen playfully necking for the camera with fellow quiz show champion, Italian shoemaker/opera whiz Gino Prata.
    West Virginia Mountaineers made her the guest of honor at their State Fair, where she spoke (literally pronouncing words) for an audience of over 8,000.
    She dispelled the then-stereotypical notion commonly held by Americans that blacks (and girls of any color) were inherently feeble-minded or dumb.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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