1. Before appearing on The Cross-Wits, what was life for you at the time?
I was born in Chicago…couldn't stand the place…angry, aggressive, racially divisive...i was a very free-spirited individual...played music…and dreamed…so, at 19, I loaded everything I had into a 1967 Chevy, and drove to LA...i slept in my car along the way.. I had actually only been in LA for 2 weeks before i was interviewed by Cross-wits…my show taped before I was even able to land a job.
2. How did you try out for The Cross-Wits?
I was looking for work upon arriving in LA.. i was amazed to find that the front page of the want-ads in the Sunday paper, was EVERY game show looking for contestants. I called 2 shows…Cross-wits, and Password. I actually interviewed for Password 2 days before Cross-wits. I played the game very well, but was SO nervous. I have no doubt that was why I didn't pass their interview. I promised myself i would NOT let my nerves get the best of me next time. So, when I went to my Cross-wits interview, I was energetic, and smiled a lot.
3. When you got notified you'd be on The Cross-wits, how did it make you feel?
The entire process went blazingly fast. I interviewed on a Thursday, was called back on Friday for a second interview on Monday, and taped that Saturday. I don't think I had time to even think about it. For a 19-year old who slept in his car on his way out to LA, it all seemed VERY fairy tale like. I had to go to a second hand store to get the clothes I wore on the show. I’m sure it's obvious by that sport coat
4. Where was it taped at?
I’m pretty sure they taped in Studio City.
5. Seeing you never seemed to give your opponent, Peggy (the back-then future newlywed) a chance at the game, I know you felt good about winning the game, but how did you feel about Peggy losing?
You know, that half hour of taping went by so fast, you really don't get a chance to think about your feelings. I remember being very happy that I knew Fourth and July in the first puzzle. It wasn't until I actually watched the tape that I realized how much Peggy looked like a deer in the headlights a few times. I also felt bad for James Hampton. I think it bothered him a bit that I chose Nipsey to be my partner in the final round.
6. Did you ever get a chance to talk to host Jack Clark, Nipsey Russell or any of the celebrities off-camera or when taping paused? In any case, what was it like to meet them?
The conversations between James Hampton, Nipsey and myself were fun. During commercial breaks, production crews were all over the celebrities, and contestant coordinators talked with Peggy and myself.
7. What happened to all the prizes you won?
By the time my show aired, i was working. Needless to say, there were a couple of women who offered to go to Hawaii with me. Instead, i sent my parents to Hawaii. At the time, I thought it was really no big deal. I still have never gotten to Hawaii. My father died 3 years later. To this day, my mother thanks me for that trip. She told me that her and my father figured they'd start vacationing in a couple of years, after my youngest brother was old enough to move out on his own. He didn't live long enough for that to happen. So, the trip to Hawaii was SO important to her, and them, because it was the most significant vacation they got to go on alone, and together. They made some great friends while in Hawaii, too. The dining room set, i gave to my sister for her wedding... it was the most expensive wedding gift she got from anyone. That was kind of funny. I had borrowed some money from one of my brothers to get out to LA, so I gave him the moped, which he promptly sold, to pay off my debt to him. Amazingly, I actually got NOTHING out of the show, except the experience. And, it was a fantastic experience. I’m amazed at how few people who live in, or move to the LA area, ever got around to trying out for shows.
8. How does it feel knowing that Jack Clark (d. 1988) and Nipsey Russell (d. 2005) are no longer with us?
I don't remember seeing anything about Jack Clark's death... but, i did see Nipsey's in my local paper (i live in the Seattle area). It did feel different to me than your standard celebrity passing, having met him.
9. Did you ever see the 1980s revival of The Crosswits with David Sparks?
I didn't see the Cross-wits revival.
10. What are you presently doing in today's lifestyle?
Well, I’m in my 40s now. I have a 15-year old son. What a GREAT experience, being a father. As you can see, i still have the Cross-wits tape, and have shown it to friends a few times…it’s a great icebreaker, gets all kinds of laughs...especially, the hair. I still can't believe i didn't get osprey. It haunts me, every time I watch it. I remember having encyclopedias as a child, and their being a drawing of an osprey in it. I just had a HUGE brain lapse.
I'm not sure if people notice this in the tape. The producers want VERY much to give away those cars, and other prizes. Just before they ask me the osprey question, you can actually hear one of the producers yelling for me to hurry up and choose the question, so that i would have an opportunity to win the car. They were running out of time, and needed me to hurry. You can also hear the groan from them when i didn't get osprey. By the way, I have always thought that if I had gotten "bird," i would probably have guessed the answer was Chicken, NOT nest.
11. Did you ever tryout for or appear on another game show?
I appeared on Scrabble, with Chuck Woolery, in 1988. I won $5,000 in 3 days. I should have won considerably more, but was so full of myself, that I really wasn't focused on the game. I was just up on the stage, goofing off with Chuck.
12. If you were to give anyone else advice of being on a television game show, what would you recommend to them?
My advice, to anyone being on a game show, is the following: remain calm, stay focused, and enjoy the experience.
Here’s the links to Mark’s appearances on the game shows he was on:
Cross-Wits, Part 1
Cross-Wits, Part 2
Cross-Wits, Part 3
Cross-Wits, Part 4
First day on Scrabble, pt. 1
First day on Scrabble, pt. 2
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