Albert Z. Freedman, the man who was at the center of the 1950s quiz show scandal that was made into a 1990s movie, has died, his family announced Thursday. He was 95.
According to his obituary on the New York Times, Freedman died in Marin County, California, on Tuesday, April 11, where he resided with his wife Nancy Freedman. They were married for nearly 35 years.
Born in Taunton, Massachusetts, in 1922, Freedman joined the Marines and fought in the Pacific Campaign during World War II, before studying at Boston College, USC and Institut des hautes études cinématographiques in Paris.
He then moved to New York to work on the “Groucho Marx Show” and went on to produce the quiz show, “Twenty-One” in the mid 1950s.
That series was marred by scandal when claims were made that it was not just “fixed,” but was almost completely choreographed, with contestants cast as if they were actors.
Freedman, however, claimed the allegations were part of a witch-hunt against TV entertainment let by aspirational politicians and a failing newspaper industry.
In his personal life, Freedman married his wife, Esther, in 1953 and they had four children, Mara, Lisa, Tani and Derek.
However, Esther died in 1975 from breast cancer, and Mara and Lisa both succumbed to ovarian cancer. This sparked a drive for Freedman to pursue cancer research and treatment options, leading to him earning a PhD from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality.
He is survived by his second wife, Nancy, two remaining children, Tani and Derek, three step-children — Lori, Todd and Garett Dworman — and 10 grandchildren.