Marie Winn Biography

Marie Winn, a journalist, author and birdwatcher, is known for her books and articles on the birds of Central Park, her Wall Street Journal ornithology column and her role in the quiz show scandals of the 1950s. She appears in Frederic Lilien's documentary film, The Legend of Pale Male (2010).

Born in 1936 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Winn is one of two daughters of a psychiatrist; her sister is the writer Janet Malcolm. Winn is a U.S. citizen who attended the Bronx High School of Science, Radcliffe College and Columbia University.

In May 1958, while Winn was a contestant on Dotto, a notebook which belonged to her was found by another contestant, Ed Hilgemeier, who discovered that the notebook included questions and answers to be used during Winn's appearances. Jack Narz, the host of Dotto at the time, recalled, when interviewed for a PBS documentary, that he believed Winn to be "a little too pat" when giving her answers. A CBS executive vice president, Thomas Fisher, tested kinescopes of the show against Winn's notebook and concluded that the show appeared to have been fixed. The executives also learned the show's producers had paid Winn, Hilgemeier, and Winn's opponent Yaffe Kimball-Slatin to keep quiet about the notebook. They also learned that Hilgemeier might have demanded more money to keep quiet and filed a deceptive practices complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.