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What's My Line Celebrity Guests


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I know several folks know about the old panel game show "What's My Line?"   Some of us are old enough to remember it from the original run.  It ran on CBS from 1950 to 1967 in primetime on Sunday nights at 10:30pm ET/9:30 CT.  It was live for the first 10 years or so, sporadically so thereafter (once videotape was available), and in B&W until the last year or so, when CBS finally threw in the towel on their RCA/NBC rivalry regarding color and switched to a full color evening schedule in 1966.  After CBS cancelled all primetime game shows in 1967, it continued as a daytime syndicated show after that for 6 or 7 years.

Goodson/Todman, the producers, arranged to have nearly every CBS episode kinescoped (available only in B&W), so even if the original show was broadcast in color, we only have B&W kinescopes saved.  Nearly all of these are available (some 700+ episodes) on YouTube.  The show ran more than the typical 39/26 episodes per year that was common back then for TV series.  New episodes were on nearly every week of the year.

Why am I bringing up an old TV show in a TCM forum?

Well, each week, the show had at least one (sometimes two) "mystery" celebrity guests.  The panel would be blindfolded and had to guess who it was.  The celebrities were often film stars making a tour through NYC to promote their latest film.   You'll also get many Broadway and TV figures (and of course, the folks that did them all).  And this brings me to this post.

You basically have an on-line archive of celebrities plugging their movies and other projects, from 1950 to 1967.   It's a great time capsule to see these stars promoting their work.  The YouTube collection is organized by broadcast date, and you can search for a particular star of interest if you want.  It can be an interesting window back to the studio system days as it was winding down, and how different film exhibition was before the rise of the multiplex and movies opening over thousands of screens its opening day.

This link will take you to the playlist organized by broadcast date:  https://www.youtube.com/user/WhatsMyLineCBS/playlists?view=50&sort=dd&shelf_id=4

Disclosure: I'm not affiliated in any way with the YouTube user that posted all of these, and receive no benefit from posting.  I just thought it might be interesting to some who were not aware this archive existed.

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I often watch WHAT'S MY LINE too. The entire episodes are good, but the "blindfold" celebrity segments are always a hoot. Too bad the well rehearsed questions quickly narrow the guessing. 

I remember when it was still on the air too-the contestant's top winnings could amount to $50!

I also enjoy old THIS IS YOUR LIFE episodes. Many humble stars are visibly moved by their surprise visitors. Last one I watched was Shirley Jones who instantly reverted to small town PA girl. She had been pulled off the Partridge Family set- it was cute to see Susan Dey's & David Cassidy's reaction, the only two cast members old enough to understand what was happening.

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I always liked that show as a kid and try to catch the BUZZR reruns of it from time to time.  It's interesting to see who the mystery guest  is on those.  Every now and then there'll be one who is still with us.  

Yeah, that $50.00  top prize is a hoot now,  when the average game show top prize can be as high as $20,000!  But still better than the prize given to the people chosen to try and fool the panelists on "To Tell The Truth".  I saw one old show in which the two fakes were awarded a carton of Camel cigarettes each for their effort!  :D 

Sepiatone

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2 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

I always liked that show as a kid and try to catch the BUZZR reruns of it from time to time.  It's interesting to see who the mystery guest  is on those.  Every now and then there'll be one who is still with us.  

Yeah, that $50.00  top prize is a hoot now,  when the average game show top prize can be as high as $20,000!  But still better than the prize given to the people chosen to try and fool the panelists on "To Tell The Truth".  I saw one old show in which the two fakes were awarded a carton of Camel cigarettes each for their effort!  :D 

Sepiatone

I think I read where the guests (non-celebrity) were paid $500 on top of whatever "winnings" they had.  John Daly was quite loose with the scoring, most of the times, just flipping over the cards when he felt like it.  That show must've made a boatload of money, because it was relatively cheap to produce.

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1 hour ago, TikiSoo said:

I also enjoy old THIS IS YOUR LIFE episodes. Many humble stars are visibly moved by their surprise visitors. Last one I watched was Shirley Jones who instantly reverted to small town PA girl. She had been pulled off the Partridge Family set- it was cute to see Susan Dey's & David Cassidy's reaction, the only two cast members old enough to understand what was happening.

Another good one.  I had forgotten about this show.  

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3 hours ago, jakeem said:

Does anyone remember the final mystery guest of the original prime-time series?

I do, but to be honest, I just saw it a few weeks ago.  He was their back-up in case a celebrity didn't make it on time to the show.

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1 minute ago, Sepiatone said:

Thanks for letting us know.  :rolleyes:

Sepiatone

It was John Daly.

The last "real" guest was a man who worked in the NY State Unemployment Office.

The final panelists were Martin Gabel, Arlene Francis, Steve Allen, Bennett Cerf

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Dorothy Kilgallen's final appearance on the show. She would go to bed that evening and be found dead the following morning from an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol. The circumstances of the lady's death have always remained a mystery.

 

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12 minutes ago, txfilmfan said:

It was John Daly.

The last "real" guest was a man who worked in the NY State Unemployment Office.

The final panelists were Martin Gabel, Arlene Francis, Steve Allen, Bennett Cerf

Bingo! It happened on September 3, 1967.

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9 minutes ago, TomJH said:

Dorothy Kilgallen's final appearance on the show. She would go to bed that evening and be found dead the following morning from an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol. The circumstances of the lady's death have always remained a mystery.

 

Yes, wrapped up in the JFK conspiracy, as she was working on a book at the time about his assassination. 

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About fifteen years ago or so and when the Game Show Network was running the complete series from beginning to end (and on a continuous cycle) during the late evening hours, I REALLY got into watching it and tried never to miss an episode. I remember my parents always watched it late Sunday nights first-run back in the day too.

I came away with the following observations:

Somehow, Arlene Francis become more attractive as the years rolled on, and I actually began getting a little crush on her because she was also so witty and entertaining.

Bennett Cerf could have very easily taken over for Mel Blanc in doing the voice for Elmer Fudd if ever called upon. ("And now, heahs hour panel modahwatoah, John Chawahs Daly")

John Chawahs Daly, ahem, I mean John CHARLES Daly was just about the most urbane and sophisticated gameshow host ever, and probably due to his also being a respected NYC news anchor at the time.

I finally learned where the question, "It is bigger than a bread box?" came from...Steve Allen.

(...and there were many more, but these were the first few that crossed my mind here)

 

 

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There are now a small number of episodes available on Amazon Prime. I am sorry to say that I did not find any of the guest stars to be particularly exciting. The main advantage is that it is possible to fast-forward through them to see the vocations and the stars rather than having to watch the entire program.

We have on DVD a clip of Steve Allen being interviewed about his days as a panelist on the show. The comment which stays with me is that he at times did not know who the mystery guest was even after he took off his blindfold and saw their name. This was due to an effort to promote minor starlets' careers by having them appear on the prestigious program to give the illusion that they were more popular than they truly were. I imagine that the producers would not allow it often. I must wonder if it worked for any of them.

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15 hours ago, Dargo said:

Bennett Cerf could have very easily taken over for Mel Blanc in doing the voice for Elmer Fudd if ever called upon.

Oops, Fudd was voiced by Arthur Q Bryan

 

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15 hours ago, Dargo said:

About fifteen years ago or so and when the Game Show Network was running the complete series from beginning to end (and on a continuous cycle) during the late evening hours, I REALLY got into watching it and tried never to miss an episode. I remember my parents always watched it late Sunday nights first-run back in the day too.

I came away with the following observations:

Somehow, Arlene Francis become more attractive as the years rolled on, and I actually began getting a little crush on her because she was also so witty and entertaining.

Bennett Cerf could have very easily taken over for Mel Blanc in doing the voice for Elmer Fudd if ever called upon. ("And now, heahs hour panel modahwatoah, John Chawahs Daly")

John Chawahs Daly, ahem, I mean John CHARLES Daly was just about the most urbane and sophisticated gameshow host ever, and probably due to his also being a respected NYC news anchor at the time.

I finally learned where the question, "It is bigger than a bread box?" came from...Steve Allen.

(...and there were many more, but these were the first few that crossed my mind here)

 

 

'Round these parts there's a main drag that runs through Taylor, Garden City, Westland and Wayne, MI (and maybe a couple other cities) and it's name is JOHN DALY.     At one time, it  the traffic court offices where I had to go to deal with my first traffic violation back in '67 was on that road. Later that building became a branch office for the Wayne County friend of the court.  There are also many stretches of residential sections .  When "What's My Line?" was in it's heyday I often wondered at how that road got it's name.  Musing that possibly  it might have been named after the show's host.  B)  I doubt that now. ;) 

Sepiatone

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1 hour ago, TikiSoo said:

Oops, Fudd was voiced by Arthur Q Bryan

 

Good point here, Tiki. 

I should've said Arthur's name up there instead of Mel's.

(...and especially because Mel wouldn't do the voice for Elmer until the 1970s, and after WML's original run was over)

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19 hours ago, Dargo said:

Bennett Cerf could have very easily taken over for Mel Blanc in doing the voice for Elmer Fudd if ever called upon. ("And now, heahs hour panel modahwatoah, John Chawahs Daly")

 

Dargo, remember that Nelson Rockefeller (or "Wockafelluw") also had the same kind of Elmer Fudd accent that Bennett Cerf had. This must me some kind of regional accent.

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10 hours ago, kingrat said:

Dargo, remember that Nelson Rockefeller (or "Wockafelluw") also had the same kind of Elmer Fudd accent that Bennett Cerf had. This must me some kind of regional accent.

Maybe so KR, as it's always seemed to me that those who achieved some fame in life and who were noted for talking in that manner (and also such as Barbara Walters) were born and raised along the northern Atlantic seaboard of the U.S., and where many people speak in a non-rhotic (not pronouncing the letter 'R' unless it's followed by a vowel) manner anyway, and who often replace the 'R' with an "AH" sound. And this then in turn seems a slight deviation from that, and with such a speaker not only not pronouncing their 'R's, but also substituting the sound of the letter 'W' for the 'R' and also often for the letter 'L'  in their speech.

(...although I could be wong..ahem..I mean WRONG here, but once again it's always seemed to me that those who were raised in places such as Boston, NYC and points between and around that area of the country have a heightened chance of talking like Mr. Fudd when he was out chasing after that "wascally wabbit" Bugs, and such as the aforementioned Messrs. Cerf and Rockefeller and Miss Walters here, who all hailed from that part of our country)

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Being a bit of an amateur film historian on actress and performer Debbie Reynolds, I couldn't help but participate in the "What's My Line" topic. One of the biggest revelations for me regarding why Reynolds was such a star and where her daughter Carrie Fisher inherited her brilliant witty charm came about accidentally while searching Reynolds on Youtube and coming across episodes of a show titled "What's My Line". 

Being a person in my early 30s, I wasn't familiar with the show, but I decided to watch a video that had recently been published a few days after Reynolds death in December, 2016. It was an edited reel of Reynold's four mystery celebrity appearances in 1954,1956, 1959, and 1964 as well as her one celebrity guest appearance in 1960ish(?) as a panelist.  After viewing these clips, I was suddenly in love with this charming, adorable, and incredibly witty actress and that really solidified my opinion that there was much more to this person than what popular culture has overlooked and ascribed to her as being a "sanitized 1950s girl-next-door" character that the musical Grease notably satirized a few decades later. 

Here is the "Whats My Line" tribute to Debbie Reynolds video that I viewed that may have been previously posted in a TCM General Discussion obituary on Reynolds a few years ago. For those who haven't seen it yet, enjoy the very fascinating evolution of Reynolds from a young popular MGM star to the post-studio era appearance she makes in 1964:

 

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1 hour ago, MovieCollectorOH said:

An interesting moment, the panel is clueless as to what he did.  Kind of funny to see.

This aired on Sunday, December 1 ,1963, during that strange period after the assassination of President Kennedy and  before The Beatles' first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

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8 hours ago, jakeem said:

This aired on Sunday, December 1 ,1963, during that strange period after the assassination of President Kennedy and  before The Beatles' first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

It was the first WML after the assassination.  I was born in the middle of that strange period, which might explain some things...  😀

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