“Hello There, We’ve Been Waiting for You!”
Ralph Edwards’ popular game show, “Truth or Consequences,” opened every week with these words. The show aired on the radio from 1940-57, and on television beginning in 1950.
“Why not find a town or city somewhere in America that would be willing to change its name to ‘Truth or Consequences,’ and do the anniversary broadcast from that city?” said a staffer.
Edwards liked the idea. The word went out. A number of cities responded. But one stood out from the rest: Hot Springs, New Mexico.
Why? Because it seemed to embody the same philosophy as Ralph Edwards and his show – namely, “A real friendliness for people and a desire to help mankind.” The city had the means to carry out this creed due to numerous local resources: its healing hot springs, the Carrie Tingley Hospital for Crippled Children (now the New Mexico State Veterans Home), a pleasant climate, close proximity to Elephant Butte Lake, and the genuine western hospitality of the people.
The show’s producer visited Hot Springs to work out the details with the mayor, the Chamber of Commerce, and other local big-wigs. A special election was held on March 31, 1950, and the name changed passed, 1294 to 295. And that is how “Hot Springs New Mexico” became a town named after a game show!
The very next day, on April 1, 1950, Ralph Edwards flew in with his wife Barbara, members of his staff, and press crews to conduct the 10 year anniversary broadcast of the game show “Truth or Consequences” from the City of Truth or Consequences. The event and the city received an avalance of nationwide publicity. Since the event occurred on April Fool’s Day, many assumed it was a practical joke!
Edwards promised to come back the following year, and did – but further cemented his relationship with the town by returning every year for the annual Fiesta celebration, bringing Hollywood stars along for the event. From 1951 through the late 1990s, each Fiesta offered an exciting lineup of Hollywood talent including such names as Richard Dawson, James Drury, Jayne Mansfield, Denver Pyle, Anne B. Davis, Amanda Blake, Jamie Farr, Jeannie C. Riley, and Peter Blake. (See the Geronimo Springs Museum‘s Ralph Edwards Room for more information.)
Though Ralph Edwards died in November of 2005, his spirit lives on as T or C celebrates “Ralph Edwards Day” every April 1st, and continues to hold its annual Fiesta the first weekend in May. The city’s largest park and its auditorium are also named for Mr. Edwards.
Much of the information above was borrowed from the T or C Fiesta website and the booklet “Fiesta Memories: Truth or Consequences New Mexico, 1950-1992, A Ride Through Our Past,” edited by Charlotte Bacon with caricatures by Patrick Trujillo.