Andy Dufresne and the Shawshank Connection?

I turned on the TV yesterday afternoon to watch a little old school Match Game '78 on BUZZR (which plays reruns of old game shows) while I had my lunch with our cat, the Blueberry. When Match Game was over, the next show on was Child's Play. The contestants were announced by Bill Cullen, and the first one was a lady named Andy Dufresne.

It took me a second before I flashed on The Shawshank Redemption and realized that she had the same exact name as Tim Robbins' character in that movie. The name is the same in Stephen King's original novella, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Knowing that the book in which the novella was published, Different Seasons, came out in the early '80s, I started to wonder if perhaps Stephen King had been watching daytime TV back then and happened upon this episode and said, "What a great name for my lead character!" and then used Andy Dufresne for his story.

Looking up Different Seasons, I found out it was published in hardcover in August 1982, which triggered memories of the summer where my pals Wayne, Shane, Tony, and I putzed around much of the time while only semi-seriously looking for gainful employment (Tony, of course, was employed). When Different Seasons came out, we were all reading it at various points at the end of that summer. (For the uninitiated, Different Seasons is the same collection that has the story, The Body, that was turned into the Rob Reiner classic Stand By Me, and Apt Pupil, turned into a Bryan Singer movie with the same title.) I seem to recall we had some pretty good, deep arguments about Apt Pupil.

The next step was looking up that game show, Child's Play. The info button on the cable remote told me that the show was from 1982, and this made me wonder if, indeed, I was correct in my King theory. However, a search at a couple of different sources online revealed that Child's Play only ran for a single full season, and that was from September 1982 through early September 1983. Ratings killed it, and CBS replaced it with the much more famous Press Your Luck. No whammies!

Since it is likely that King finished Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption well before that August 1982 publishing date, probably even before the start of 1982, that definitely killed my theory before it had time to even breathe. Still, it was exciting for a few short afternoon minutes. King is known for being more of a regular Joe than many writers equal to his fame, so it wouldn't surprise me if he did get inspiration from a failed game show.



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