Roy Ward Dickson (1910-1978)

Roy Ward Dickson
Roy Ward Dickson
Roy Ward Dickson

Year Born: 1910

Year Died: 1978


Dickson, Roy Ward (1910-1978)

Roy Ward Dickson was a teacher, then newspaper advertising salesman, who became broadcasting’s first quizmaster and a prolific inventor of games and quizzes for radio and television.

He was born Richard del Valle in London, England, on August 18th 1910, , and educated there and at the Manitoba Agricultural College.  He taught high school in Winnipeg from 1929 but in 1931 joined the advertising department of the Vancouver Sun.  He moved to the Toronto Star in 1934 and there invented a quiz game to test the knowledge of students.

He tried to sell the game to newspapers but couldn’t interest them.  Thus in 1935 he made another career change, becoming president of Dickson and Edington, Ltd., which produced quiz shows for broadcasting.  On May 15, 1935, his initial quiz show hit the airwaves on CFRB Toronto as Professor Dick and his Question Box.  He became known as the King of Quiz. Early in his career he elected to be known by a name that was easier to remember (and spell) than that with which he was born.

In 1940 Roy introduced stunt-type radio shows with Fun Parade and by the early ’50s had appeared on 3,000 networked broadcasts.   He produced and was MC of the Lux Fun Parade, The Battle of Words, Roy Ward Dickson’s Scrapbook, Turnabout, Tidbits, Chiclets, Take a Chance, Try for Ten, Abracadabra and many other shows.  

He was successful on both radio and television and his ideas were adopted internationally.  One of the most successful was Mr. and Mrs., a quiz show for married couples who were tested on how much they knew about each other.  It ran on and off in the U.K. from 1972 until the late 1990s.  He also hosted Abracadabra for Associated-Rediffusion-TV in London in the early 1960s  (see still above).

Roy wrote several books based on quiz shows, game shows, gambling and advertising. His autobiography, “Take a Chance: Confessions of a Quizmaster” was published in 1977.

Roy was not a friend of the CBC. In 1956 he called it a “monstrous monopoly” with a stranglehold on Canadian entertainment.  

Roy Ward Dickson retired to Victoria where he died on September 16th 1978.

Written by Jerry Fairbridge – June, 2003