Pinky Pie

Queen for a Day & Me

Posted on: December 2, 2009

Queen for a Day host with the four contestants from one show

A Queen for a Day - but not my mother or me

When I was little and looked up at my mother, I saw only beauty – she was the most beautiful woman in the world to me. So it made sense that when I watched Queen for a Day on television in the 1950s, I wanted my mom to be Queen for a Day.

After all, she would get a sable-lined velvet robe and crown to wear as she began her reign – for that day.  All this was done while Pomp and Circumstance was played during the broadcast from the fancy dance Moulin Rouge restaurant in Hollywood at the corner of Hollywood and Vine.

Mom, who always declined interest in Queen for a Day for herself, looked away so I would not see her smile and maybe even laugh a little.

Only on one other occasion do I have that similar image of my mother, looking away in amusement. That was on the day when Lisa U and I wrote swear words on pieces of paper and threw them on the floor of our fourth grade classroom.  We wrote the strongest words we knew – damn, shit and hell. We did not know the f-word, as HBO had not yet been invented. Our punishment when caught – and how could we not be caught – was to confess to our parents. I did so ever so earnestly to my mom, who said she appreciated my honesty in telling her of my crime.

Why was my mom so amused? She knew what Queen for a Day, a radio staple before it came to television in 1956, was all about.

The show began with host Jack Bailey, asking, “Would YOU like to be Queen for a day?”

He then introduced four women who each told their story of family illness, crippled child, loss of job and/or other catastrophes. He asked each tearful woman what she wanted if she became queen. Often it was something like braces for a child with a disability or a hearing aid. One woman wanted a washing machine so she could take in laundry to support the family.

The woman with the saddest story – judged by the audience response on the Applause-O-Meter – won the honor. Along with the honor, and temporary usage of the crown and robe, came a bunch of prizes, many donated by the sponsors. For example, some women received three cartons of Old Gold cigarettes. Did I mention this was in the 1950s?

My mom, in other words, did not want to have the kind of life that would make her eligible to be Queen for a Day.

So why am I telling you this? I have long said, I have long mentioned Queen for a Day in response to people who said the loss of our son was the worst possible loss in life or noting my breast cancer.

I always responded, “Loss is not competitive. Everyone has losses they have to deal with in life.” And, I would not want to win such a contest of having the worst stuff happen in life. “I don’t want to be Queen for a Day.”

In other words, instead of dwelling on the negative stuff, I try to figure out a way to deal with it. My way is to make jokes and write this blog. (I’m not perfect at this; sometimes I get down, too, and whine.)

But that doesn’t mean I don’t get a kick out of the old daytime TV show. In fact, Netflix brought them to my door and I loved watching them and remembering me as the earnest little girl who wanted to honor my mom with a temporary tiara.

Check out Queen for a Day on-line on YouTube at:,

The quality is not very good of these old TV shows on YouTube, but still amusing as hell. Check it out.

But let me ask you this question? “Would YOU like to be Queen for a day?”

Or should we just go with Jack Bailey’s closer: “Make every woman a queen, for every single day!”


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