Chance of a Lifetime
Presented byDennis James (ABC)
John Reed King (DuMont)
Country of originUnited States
Running time~25 minutes
Original networkABC (1952-1953 and 1955-1956)
DuMont (1953-1955)
Original release1952 (1952) –
June 23, 1956 (1956-06-23)

Chance of a Lifetime is an American television competitive talent show that aired on ABC and DuMont between 1952 and 1956.


Three professional performers, usually singers, dancers or instrumentalists, competed. In the early version of the show, there were four contestants with the winner chosen by votes tallied by attendants in the audience.

In the later version, the winner of the first half, determined by an audience applause meter, then competed against a returning champion in the second half. After both champion and challenger, in that order, have performed, the audience applause meter determines the champion, who receives $1000 cash, the opportunity to return the following week, and a week's engagement at a popular nightspot.

Broadcast history

Dennis James was the host of the ABC version which ended on August 20, 1953, and John Reed King was the host of the DuMont version, which ran from September 11, 1953, to June 17, 1955. ABC then brought the show back from July 3, 1955, to June 23, 1956. In 1954, comedian Jonathan Winters made his TV debut on the DuMont version of the show. Also in 1954, Diahann Carroll appeared on the show as a contestant four weeks in a row.[1][2]

From July to December 1956, James hosted another quiz show, High Finance on CBS.

Episode status

One episode of the DuMont version is held in the J. Fred MacDonald collection at the Library of Congress. Another episode, from the ABC run, is linked below.

Fifteen episodes are held by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. These include two episodes from 1951, eight from 1953, two from 1954, and three from 1955.[3]

See also