An episode of the controversial yet popular proto-reality TV series "Queen for a Day". Much-panned by critics of the day. This is from late March 1958 based on one of the promos it contains. (note: this episode "Queen for a Day" aired at 4PM to 4:45PM each weekday on NBC, followed by the 15-minute "Modern Romances". This 45 minute episode contains original commercials and promos).
The basic premise was that all the contestants were women with sob stories trying to outdo each other with how sad their plight was. Usually these women were asking for something relatively small, but the point was the story- it had to be the saddest hard-luck story you ever heard. If the contestant was a widow, married to a military man or had many children, all the better.
At the end, the most pathetic seeming contestant got to be Queen For A Day. They would not only get what they were asking for, but gifts and prizes. Some won trips to Hawaii.
The show ran on radio for years before television, and was widely parodied. TV seemed to add something to the proceedings, though, since all the contestants look uniformly terrified.
This is something you really have to see to believe.