The most familiar symbols of this TV season are a six-shooter and the grimacing face of the quizling as he gropes and rummages through his mental stuffings for lucrative answers. The most celebrated face of the moment belongs to Twenty One's crop-haired Elfrida von Nardroff, 32. Last week she screwed up her features, gazed characteristically at a top corner of her glass cage (to avoid seeing her own worried reflection), answered a stickler on 18th century English history.* With that, Elfrida reached 21 points, won the game, and 1) pushed her winnings to $146,000 to become the new alltime female quiz champion, 2) broke the Twenty One record of Quiz Wizard Charles Van Doren (TIME, Feb. 11, 1957), who reached a high of $143,000 before slipping back to a $129,000 final take-home.
Neither scholar, mnemonic freak nor gambler, Elfrida has hit the top in what is still the most demanding and sophisticated of all quiz shows. She still could lose all if (very unlikely) she tied in 14 games and then crashed in a 21-0 defeat. Boning up for Twenty One ever since she got on its stand-by list last July ("I read atlases, memorizing capitals, rivers, all kinds of things"), Elfrida left her well-paid job as personnel manager of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants when she really got rolling on the show in
March. The daughter of a Columbia physics professor, Elfrida forthrightly explains her agonized look in the isolation booth: "I've always had this kind of face, frowning and squinting. I'm not hamming."
Elfrida, who shares a Brooklyn apartment with a lady anthropologist, could save about $20,000 in taxes by marrying this year, but she has no immediate plans for putting money ahead of love. She plans to use her earnings to take three years off and get a Ph.D. in psychology. Trouble is that she cannot collect a penny of her winnings until she quits. At the moment she is broke, last week borrowed $500 from her mother to keep going.
* Question: The man regarded as the first Prime Minister of England came into office in 1721. He served under a King who was the first member of his family to rule in England. This Prime Minister remained in office for over 20 years, and his party retained power for over 40 years. Tell: `) the name of this Prime Minister, 2) the name of his party, 3) the name of the King of England when this Prime Minister took office, 4) the name of the royal family to which he belonged. Answers: i) Robert Walpole, 2) Whig, 3) George I, 4) Hanover.