After collecting the information for my article on Gloria Lockerman, and making a video about the subject, I decided to hit the archives again and try scouting for later dates and even paid searches. I cannot afford to pay for my research, but often even articles which require money will provide a teaser, thereby giving a little free information. So, that’s what I did, and I came up with some interesting stuff.
The first article printed below is a full-length post-1955 article. At the bottom of the page you will find excerpts from newspaper articles which require payment in order to obtain the entire article. These excerpts are nevertheless valuable, as they have provided more modern information on Gloria. (By “more modern,” I mean “1980’s”—which is definitely more modern than the 1950’s!)
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October 13, 1960
Winner Recalls Quiz Shows
By Susie Eberly
Winning $48,000 is as easy as A-B-C if you study your spelling book several hours a day as did Gloria Lockerman, now a sophomore in elementary education at the University.
Gloria won the money and achieved national fame when she appeared in TV spelling contests on “The $64,000 Question” and “The $64,000 Challenge” nearly five years ago.
Gloria claims she is no better than the next person at spelling and that her vocabulary is not extensive. Her rise to celebrity status began when she won her school and state spelling bees.
A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Gloria decided to enter her school spelling contest since she “always got fairly good grades in spelling.” Surprising her teachers, Gloria won the contest and then went on to be Maryland’s representative to the National Spelling Bee held in Washington, D.C.
The national spelling contest was televised and there she was noticed by the director of “The $64,000 Question” show. Asked to come to New York for an interview, Gloria did and successfully passed her test. Within a few weeks she had started a weekly commuting trip to New York with her grandmother that lasted several months.
Gloria remembers her appearances on the shows as a “very enjoyable” experience but finds it hard to recall all the details. Some of the words she remembers spelling are beligerent, gherkin, mazurka, and antidisestablishmentarianism.
After she had won $16,000 on the “Question” show she was advised to stop by her grandmother. She then appeared opposite Andy Douglass from Connecticut on the “Challenge” show.
Her earnings of $48,000 from both shows were placed in a trust fund for her. Though she is using part of the money to pay for her college education, she has no plans on what to do with the rest. “I rarely think about it,” Gloria said.
Gloria transferred to Penn State this year from Morgan State College in Maryland.
The Daily Collegian
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$48,000 Winner Denies Getting Help in Spelling
The Hartford Courant – Oct. 20, 1959
BALTIMORE, Md. (AP)–Gloria Lockerman, who won fame a $48,000 as a 12-year-old spelling whiz on two nationally televised quiz shows, said Monday her only help came from hard work and God.
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Afro at Morgan in School for Brides
Baltimore Afro-American – March 10, 1962
Rosenthal’s Department Store provided the gowns for the formal weddings.
Miss Gloria Lockerman, a junior and a French major, modeled an $85 gown of net and laceover net and taffeta. The gown had long sleeves and was studded with sequins and pearls. Her formal bouquet was of callalilies and red roses created by Mrs. Loretta Valentine.
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$64,000 Talent Questionable Today
Chicago Tribune – December 2, 1987
While we continue our search for Gloria Lockerman, let us pause to reflect on the television show that made her famous-“The $64,000 Question”- and what that show said about the intelligence of the American public in the 1950s, and of the American public today.
Gloria Lockerman, as regular readers of this space know, was the 12-year- old Baltimore schoolgirl who won $8,000 on “The $64,000 Question” in 1955 by correctly spelling “antidisestablishmentarianism. ” The following week she won an additional $16,000 by correctly spelling the entire sentence, “The belligerent astigmatic anthropologist annihilated innumerable chrysanthemums.” She quit the show after that; the program worked on a double-or-nothing basis, and Gloria Lockerman, on the advice of her grandmother, decided not to risk her winnings. She said she would put the money in a trust fund for her education.
We’re trying to locate Gloria Lockerman. As the search goes on, it is interesting to look back at “The $64,000 Question,” which was one of the highest-rated shows on prime-time TV. Two of this year’s best-selling books-“The Closing of the American Mind,” by Allan Bloom, and “Cultural Literacy,” by E.D. Hirsch Jr.-make essentially the same point: that students are not learning very much in the present-day American educational system. Quiz shows would not seem to be the most accurate barometer of that theory. However . . .
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Fame is Certainly Not Gloria’s Game
December 9, 1987 – Chicago Tribune
Gloria Lockerman, as you know if you’ve been reading this space recently, was a 12-year-old Baltimore schoolgirl when she correctly spelled the word “antidisestablishmentarianism” on the old “$64,000 Question” TV program in 1955 and instantly became a national celebrity. I’ve been trying to find her.
The former Gloria Lockerman (she uses her husband’s last name) is 45 years old. She explained to me that there is nothing she values more than her privacy. She gained so much fame in 1955 that, long ago, she decided it was enough fame for a lifetime. In that summer of ’55 she went from being a shy, brilliant student to an object of the country’s collective curiosity-both because she was so smart at such a young age and because the fact that she was black went against many Americans’ backward stereotypes of the intellectual capacities of black people during that era.
The following links are to the first article
that I wrote about Gloria Lockerman.