CULLOWHEE — Western Carolina University faculty member William E. “Bill” Harn was foiled in his attempt to win $1 million on the popular ABC television show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?,” but he did leave the program with $1,000 and lots of memories of time spent in New York City.
In a “Millionaire” episode broadcast Sunday (May 28), Harn correctly answered questions that moved him up to the $8,000 level, but he used up his “lifelines” in getting to that point. Harn, head of WCU’s department of human services, missed a $16,000 question about color blindness, ending his time as a “Millionaire” contestant and dropping his game show winnings back down to the $1,000 level.
For one question that asked for the name of the film that included the classic line, “You had me at hello,” Harn called his phone-a-friend lifeline, WCU graduate student Robin Dinnes at Maple Tree Gallery in Dillsboro. Dinnes got the answer, the movie “Jerry McGuire,” from a person who happened to be in the gallery at the time, allowing Harn to move up to the $8,000 level.
At one point in the show, host Regis Philbin told the audience that Harn is from the mountains of North Carolina, and he asked Harn, “Incidentally, what is the name of the town you reside in?”
“Cullowhee,” Harn answered.
“Cullowhee,” Philbin said. “How many people live there?”
“It’s unincorporated. It’s basically the university. I think about 6,600,” Harn said.
Harn traveled to New York to record the show in early May.
“They treat you like royalty,” Harn said. “They fly you up to New York, pick you up in a limousine, put you up at a grand hotel, cater your meals, and then give you $50 a day spending money.”
The show also paid for Harn’s son, Andy Harn, to fly in from Texas to be with him on the show.
“It was the first time in the Big Apple for both of us, so we had a wonderful time visiting the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Carnegie Hall and Central Park,” he said.
Harn originally appeared on the “Millionaire” show broadcast on May 18. He won the “fast-finger” round on that program, and answered two questions in the “hot seat” before the show ended. His return to the airwaves was delayed one week while ABC aired a week of special “champions” shows.
Although “Millionaire” is an hour long, the actual program taping takes much longer, Harn said. “Backstage during the breaks, and when things are being set up, Regis entertains all the while. He’s a real riot,” Harn said.
In addition to serving as head of WCU’s department of human services, Harn teaches communication disorders in his position as associate professor. He will take on new duties July 1 when he becomes associate dean of WCU’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies, but he will continue to teach courses in communication disorders.