Reyn Guyer came up with a novel idea for a board game, which became Twister. You know, the excuse for people to wrap themselves around each other. It didn’t sell well at first, because retailers didn’t want to put it on their shelves. But that changed after Johnny Carson demonstrated the game on The Tonight Show fifty years ago today.
Talk show hosts and board games could make for an interesting pairing; Art Linkletter had famously endorsed Milton Bradley’s The Game of Life in the 1960s, his picture even appearing on the box and the game’s currency. But airtime on The Tonight Show was a different beast: Johnny Carson was the most popular late-night personality on the air. Before Milton Bradley threw in the towel on Twister, they had already paid a public relations firm to secure a segment on Carson’s show. On May 3, 1966, the host played the risqué game with buxom actress Eva Gabor. “It reversed the engines pretty quickly,” Guyer says. “By Christmas 1966, we were the game of the year.”
Read about the process of bringing Twister to the masses, and its amazing notoriety when they finally got a chance to play, at mental_floss.