View Full Version : What's My Line? appreciation thread

11-18-2010, 11:09 PM
Love this show. Don't know what it is, but the combination of panelists, hosts, mystery guests, and regular contestants makes for some great television. Anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about but likes classic TV/movies, wit, games, and interesting people, do yourself a favor and check out some clips (http://www.youtube.com/user/crepehanger47#p/u).

Any other fans here? Favorite moment? Favorite panelist? I could go back and forth between Dorothy Kilgallen, Bennett Cerf, and Arlene Francis forever, but if I had to choose I think I'd go with Dorothy - there was kind of an underdog streak to her, as though she'd had to fight her way to the top through guile, smarts, and stepping on people who got in her way if necessary. You just couldn't help but root for her, even as you knew that everyone thought that Arlene was prettier and Bennett classier.

11-19-2010, 01:34 AM
My family used to watch it all the time, back in the 50s. For some unknown (to me) reason, everybody hated Dorothy Kilgallen.

11-19-2010, 01:37 AM
My very very earliest memory of watching TV, I would've been 2 years old I suppose, is of What's My Line. No clear details, just black and white, panelists, and someone writing on a blackboard. Or something like that.

Flip Pancake
11-19-2010, 01:58 AM
I love the one with Salvador Dali (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXT2E9Ccc8A)who confused the panel by saying 'yes' to almost everything.

11-19-2010, 08:13 AM
I like Bennett best. I would just love to go to a party with him. I always hated when they guessed the celebrity guest too fast. I wanted it to go on for a long time.

11-19-2010, 10:39 AM
That's practically my all time favorite show! They just seem so sophisticated! If you can find a copy of Bennett's book, "At Random", READ it. There is an interview available online that was done for an archive at some university (Columbia, maybe) that's really interesting. I've read that Dorothy, always the reporter, would spill behind the scenes comments and private moments in her gossip columns, causing a real problem between her and Arlene, Bennett, and John Daly. Check out the youtube of the episode filmed immediately after her (suspicious) death. I think a movie is in the works about Dorothy--she had been working on a book about the Kennedy assassination before her untimely death. She had recently interviewed Jack Ruby in jail, and when she was found dead of an "overdose", all her papers were gone.

11-21-2010, 09:28 PM
Get thee to a bookstore (or library) and get What's My Line? by Gil Fates (ISBN 0-13-955146-8). A large chunk of the book is devoted to I've Got a Secret and the explanation about how syndicated programs are distributed is dated but it's great read.

11-22-2010, 12:57 AM
I love the show as a time capsule of what the 50's were, as per television.
The woman wore lovely gowns and would pose as they entered, the men dressed in suits or tuxedos, people would smoke on camera and everybody was so civilized in an unnatural way.
As it was taped in NYC, it is fun to watch them wracking their brains to think which Hollywood star is in town for some new movie or Broadway show.
Yes, everyone in our family hated Dorthy Kilgallen as well. Somewhere I read, or heard, that she was the only panelist who got pissed off when she didn't win. Plus, I have to admit she seemed to be quite the celebrity whore and you could easily envision her stepping on grandma's throat to get near any celebrity.
Some great famous people showed up as guest, but watching it today, often it is more fun to watch some famous guest show up and you haven't got a clue who they are even when the name is flashed - but back in the day they were big news. Just proves how fleeting fame can be.

I always envisioned them going off to some elegant nightclub after the show to sip martinis and gush about each other.

Kent Clark
11-22-2010, 04:52 PM
Wikipedia say Steve Allen made the question "Is it bigger than a breadbox" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breadbox) popular on What's My Line. That alone is enough to enshrine the show.

11-22-2010, 05:22 PM
Watching some of the old repeats from ~50 years ago, it is laughable how much prize money the contestants could win compared today. IIRC, if you stumped the panel, you got $50.

Yes $50 was a lot money back then. About a weeks wages for minimum wagers. But still a pittance compared what is given out on most of today's game shows.

Zeke N. Destroi
11-22-2010, 05:48 PM
you should check out the Canadian game shows from the 70's and early 80's like Jackpot and Definition. The grand prize was like $500 and a box of macaroni

I've only ever seen the recent redux of the show but I'm looking forward to watching many clips - Audey Murphy and Salvador Dali buffering.

A question for Canadian Dopers - how similar is this to Front Page Challenge?

Zeke N. Destroi
11-22-2010, 06:23 PM
A question for Canadian Dopers - how similar is this to Front Page Challenge?

Having now watched some clips it is exactly like Front Page Challenge.

Oh and I just realized :rolleyes: that the show I was thinking of when I referred to the recent redux was Whose Line Is It Anyway. :smack:

I'm really going to enjoy watching enough clips to make Mrs. Zeke hate the Dope even more:D

It always strikes me how much less assinine television was >20 years ago.

Thanks for telling me about this show.

11-22-2010, 10:17 PM
I love the show as a time capsule of what the 50's were, as per television.Exactly. Seeing all those clips on YouTube is a real hoot.

As it happens, my father looked a lot like Daly. But my father's face was a little wider and shorter than Daly's. And my father didn't have Daly's posh accent, but he did have more hair.

The woman wore lovely gowns and would pose as they entered, the men dressed in suits or tuxedos, people would smoke on camera and everybody was so civilized in an unnatural way.Of course, every age, including our own, has its artificialities.

11-22-2010, 10:35 PM
I used to get up early to watch this on the Game Show Network. I don't think they air it any longer, but I got through just about every episode.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.