Two decades later, Absegami history class pays dividends for 'Millionaire' contestant

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Meg Arbo, left, with TV host Meredith Vieira on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (Submitted) Meg Arbo, left, with TV host Meredith Vieira on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (Submitted)

GALLOWAY – A girl who grew up here and now lives in Philadelphia won $51,600 Jan. 9 and 10 on the TV show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

And an event from her days at Absegami High School played a part in her getting an answer correct on the show with host Meredith Vieira.

Meg Arbo, who graduated from high school in 1991, said her history teacher one day said, “We’re going to break down Billy Joel’s song, ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire.’”

“‘Really?’ I said to myself. And really, it was. So we did it.”

“And now it’s last October and we’re taping the show that just appeared,” Arbo said. “The question was, ‘What pop star has a song that starts with, ‘Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray?’ Maybe they said more, but I knew the answer after the first two words. It was multiple choice, but I didn’t need that. I knew the song.”

Arbo said she survived about 10 questions – including those skipped on the show.

“At Absegami, I was a charter member of the Emanon Players – it was Chip Garrison’s first year there,” Arbo said. “I drew the original logo, it was one mask – half comedy, half tragedy – half black, half white.”

She said she was on the yearbook committee and in the chorus.

“I was much more arts inclined than sports inclined,” said Arbo, who still does some acting and is trying to get back into the meeting and event planning business.

“I traveled with an international Christian theater company called Covenant Players from 1998-2004, and moved to Philly at the very end of ’05,” she said. “This is the longest I have been in one place in my adulthood. I toured throughout the United States, Canada and Australia while I was with Covenant Players.”

Garrison said Arbo played one of the leading roles in the first play he directed at Absegami, “Arsenic and Old Lace.”  

“She was one of the drama club officers and she helped design the logo we still use for our award trophies at the end of the year,” Garrison said. “She also played a leading role in our musical ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ that year. She ended up going to my alma mater, West Chester University. Meg was a great student, and when I saw how she did on the show, I was so proud of her.”

Arbo said she tried out for the show three times.

“The first time I tried out, there were 30 multiple-choice questions,” she said. “I passed the test, but I wasn’t selected. The second time I didn’t pass the test. Then I went on their website and saw they were coming to Philadelphia for tryouts.”

She said there were more than 1,000 competing in Philadelphia.

“I got a parking ticket – I didn’t care,” Arbo said. “They said we’d hear in about a week and if selected we might be on the show within the next two years.”

She got a call a week later saying she’d been selected, but she had to get to New York right away.

“I cancelled everything,” she said. “I might not have been called again.”

Arbo was lavish in her praise of the show and of Vieira.

“She was on 11 years; longer than Regis,” Arbo said. “She was such a warm and gracious person. You get this feeling up there that she really does want you to win.”

According to Arbo, a lot of people think Disney wants the contestants to lose, but that’s a misconception.

“Winning makes for better TV,” she said.

Speaking of the production company – Disney Studios – Arbo said that in addition to the cash, she won a Disney cruise for four.

“One of the first things I was going to do with the money was plan a vacation,” she said. “Now I don’t have to.”


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