A quiz on famous Chicago stunts | WBEZ
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Eight Forty-Eight

A quiz on famous Chicago stunts

WBEZ history blogger John Schmidt quizzes listeners on the biggest stunts to take place in Chicago.


(C) Spiderman. Goodwin was arrested, but later released without being charged. He claimed he was trying to publicize the need to have better disaster-rescue plans for high-rises. He became known as Spider Dan, and later staged a series of climbs on other famous skyscrapers.

(B) Al Capone’s treasure. The Lexington had been Capone’s headquarters for a while. Rivera's TV special centered on a “secret vault” in the basement. When the vault was opened, all that was found were a few empty bottles.  But the show was a ratings success, and helped re-start Rivera’s career.

(D) mountain-grown Folger’s Coffee. Folger’s was an old San Francisco coffee brand, but was not yet sold in Chicago in 1959. As the promotion went on, the name “Captain Folger” was put on the advertising. The final group of ads had a second quotation—“Because Chicago needs a good cup of coffee.” That gave away the secret.

(A) Steve Dahl. Mike Veeck, son of Sox owner Bill Veeck, sponsored the stunt. The idea was to have fans bring disco records to the ballpark, so Dahl could explode them on the field between games of a twilight double-header. After Dahl blew up the records, fans poured out of the stands. When security couldn’t clear the field, the Sox had to forfeit the second game.

(C) holding smile raffles. The Chicago Herald-Examiner said that Chicagoans didn’t smile enough—so they would give people something to smile about. They printed numbered “Smile Coupons” in their paper, then held a drawing to give away cash prizes. The Tribune responded with its own “Cheer Coupons.” When the public began fighting over copies of the rival papers, the Postmaster General asked them to stop the raffles.

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