You know how some people just seem to light up a room as soon as they walk in, with the mood becoming instantly fun and cheerful?
Well, the producers of the long-running hit TV show, “The Price is Right,” certainly do, and that’s why they chose Placerville’s Freda Gorman from among 250 other hopeful contestants to be featured on a show that aired Sept. 26.
Leave it to Freda to take home the top prize, a showcase worth more than $28,000.
The fact that the 76-year-old resident of Eskaton Village Placerville was the big winner was kept a tight secret until the day the TV show was broadcast, and even friends and neighbors who gathered at the retirement village’s community room didn’t know whether they were there to see their buddy win or lose.
Gorman was required to sign a non-disclosure form after her win.
“I couldn’t even tell my own kids,” said Freda as her husband, Charlie, helped put out more chairs in the already crowded room at Eskaton where a big, roll-down movie screen showed commercials leading up to the 10 a.m. start of “The Price is Right.”
More than 30 people munched on cookies, croissants and fresh fruit as they waited to see Freda have her 15 minutes of fame.
OK, the show lasts an hour — and as soon as Freda’s bright blue shirt and stylishly cut white hair came into view on TV, the audience at Eskaton burst into cheers to rival those of the CBS studio crowd in Beverly Hills.
“How ’bout Freda Gorman — Come on down!” prompted announcer George Gray as Freda made her way down the aisle to the contestants panel, where she was asked to guess the price of a shuffle board set-up.
Oops — way under, Freda.
As a selection of pricey wristwatches and a set of fine knives also found Freda bidding too low, those in the Eskaton crowd appeared to begin suspecting that their friend might not have done as well as they may have hoped.
“Win or lose, Freda, at least we all get free food,” quipped one guest as he helped himself to a peanut butter cookie.
“Yeah, I just wanted you all to see ‘The Price is Right,’” Freda came back.
“But you probably don’t want to leave — it gets more exciting,” she said, eyes crinkling as the man grabbed another cookie during a commercial and settled back to see what would happen next.
Next … Freda had a shot at a brand-new Dodge Dart, and folks put their cookies down to check out the onscreen action.
Well, Freda won a trip to San Diego but negative on the car.
Looking around the room, gold hoop earrings swinging, Freda advised, “It’s not over yet!”
More cookies, freshen that cup of coffee. Several folks chuckled as they watched Freda standing next to host Drew Carey on TV, as she got up-close-and-personal with the popular personality, saying something that didn’t come across clearly on the air. All that is heard is Carey saying, “Yeah, I’m pretty lovable.”
Freda said later that she had noticed some peach-fuzz on Carey’s lip, and remembered commenting to him about that. She didn’t recall that particular detail, however, until seeing it last Thursday during the special event at Eskaton.
“I don’t remember anything about the whole show except giving a thumbs-up at one point,” she said, laughing. “I wasn’t nervous — I was in total shock.”
Freda added that Drew Carey was every bit as nice and friendly as she expected, as was the show’s staff, including the lovely hostesses.
Another commercial break and now to the Big Wheel Spin.
Freda ties with another contestant, both hitting 80 on a wheel that tops out at 100.
Spin again. Freda hits 100 and takes home $1,000.
More importantly, she qualifies to be one of two contestants in the finale, the Showcase.
Freda, wearing a blue T-shirt with yellow lettering reading “Come on down from Hangtown,” squares off against a contestant named Jade, who gets first choice of the two Showcase offerings.
Freda checks out a package that includes two camcorders, a mountain bike, a motor scooter and a Bayliner ski boat.
She bids $22,500 … and one more time, she is low by $5,832.
But No. 013, the contestant tag she sports, proves to be lucky as Jade bids too high on his Showcase prize, meaning that Freda Gorman takes home the big enchilada.
The Eskaton crowd goes wild as the big TV screen shows Freda and Charlie hugging in front of their new ski boat.
Asked when her prizes will be delivered to the retirement village located on Blairs Lane off Broadway in Placerville, Freda said she expected the motor scooter to arrive later that day.
“Now you’ll have to get a tattoo,” said her cookied-out buddy, who told Freda he was glad he stayed for the whole show.
Freda said those who wish to try to become a contestant on “The Price is Right” may go online at thepriceisright.com for details. She advises giving yourself a couple of months lead time; she and Charlie planned their “bucket list” trip to the show as part of a vacation that included visiting a son in Huntington Beach.
“Anyone can do it — and you’ll have the time of your life!” Freda promised.