Trivia columnist bids friends so long for now


Dear Ken: I've enjoyed reading your trivia column for more than 30 years now. Are the rumors true that you may be retiring from The Tennessean?

— Ken Beck / Watertown


Dear Ken: I'm afraid so.

A wise man told me long ago, "If you can't do something good, then do it long."

Well, I did it long, 31 years' worth.

I tried to figure out how many questions I have answered on this page since October 1977, and my best guess is 15,437. I also figured I got about 124 of them wrong, but who's counting?

I've had a marvelous time here, and the best part was writing this column and getting to know thousands of readers via mail, phone and e-mail. I tell my friends that because of this trivia beat, I know a lot about nothing.

Compiling "Ask Ken Beck" took about five hours of my workweek. The other hours were spent editing stories, writing headlines and captions and proofreading pages. My reward was the other stories that I was allowed to write.

The writing was always what this job was about. I was Gomer Pyle, journalist, when I first walked into The Tennessean offices. Now, with all the seasoning that experience has brought me, I feel more like Goober Pyle, journalist.

The amazing thing about my tenure, in what I believe was one of Tennessee's best journalism jobs ever, was that 99.9 percent of the stories I wrote, I assigned myself, and it was a marvelous gig.

As editor of the old Showcase Sunday entertainment magazine for 25 years, I had the enviable task of interviewing hundreds of film and TV stars and singers and songwriters. Many of them had been my favorites as a TV and movie fan during my childhood years of the 1950s and '60s, thus I talked with practically all of my cowboy heroes, from Roy Rogers and Gene Autry to Clayton Moore (the Lone Ranger) and James Arness (Marshal Dillon), and with the stars of those great old sitcoms: Gilligan's Island, I Dream of Jeannie, Beverly Hillbillies, etc. I even used to hang around the set of Hee Haw, where I met folks such as Jonathan Winters and Slim Pickens, not to mention listening to Archie Campbell, Grandpa Jones and Minnie Pearl tell tales and spin jokes.

One of my interviews led to a writing partnership with a young kid from North Carolina. Together we penned a number of books about our favorite TV series, The Andy Griffith Show, and better yet, Jim Clark became one of the best friends a fellow could ever have.

The other truly enjoyable part of my work was traveling across the state from the Mississippi River to the Smokies and everywhere in between interviewing ordinary Tennesseans who lived extraordinary lives.

While you readers have always been my boss, the great thing that happened is that I got paid to make friends like you.

No goodbyes, just so long for now. If I can help any of you with really important trivia questions, feel free to holler at me at kbtag2@gmail.com. Thanks for writing and thanks for reading. Your pal, Ken


Hey Ken: I am looking for a movie, science fiction/horror, have looked through both categories, with no luck. The movie starred Dick Miller, Peter Graves and Lee Van Cleef, produced in 1956. I believe that the woman in the picture later became Fred McMurray's wife on My Three Sons. Also, this may be the only movie that Lee Van Cleef and Peter Graves co-starred in. The alien in this movie resembles a pumpkin or a Jabba the Hut figure and controls bat-like creatures that attack the humans.

— Claudia H. Hemphill / Columbia

Hey Claudia: That would be It Conquered the World.


Dear Ken: I was an extra in a movie that the late Jerry Reed shot in the Nashville area in the late 1970s. Can you tell me where I can get a copy? The movie was What Comes 'Round Goes 'Round. I was part of an audience at what was then Twitty City.

— Steve Mitchell / Gallatin

Dear Steve: The 1985 movie was titled What Comes Around. Amazon.com offers it for $10 on DVD. There will never be another Jerry Reed.


Dear Dad: How many episodes are there of Full House and Beverley Hills 90210? Please check.

— Kylie Beck (8-19-91) / Watertown

Dear Kylie: Well, it has taken me 17 years, but I think I've got your answers.

There were 192 episodes of Full House, if you don't count America's Funniest Home Videos Reunion, and I don't.

There were 269 episodes of Beverly Hills 90210, if you don't count 10-Year High School Reunion, which ran three years after the series ended, and I don't. And I really hope you're not watching this in reruns.

Love, Dad