What's My Line?

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What's My Line?
WML1.jpg
Presented by John Charles Daly (1950–67)
Wally Bruner (1968–72)
Larry Blyden (1972–75)
Starring Arlene Francis (1950–75)
Dorothy Kilgallen (1950–65)
Louis Untermeyer (1950–51)
Hal Block (1950–53)
Bennett Cerf (1951–71)
Steve Allen (1953–54)
Fred Allen (1954–56)
Soupy Sales (1968–75)
Narrated by Lee Vines (1950–55)
Hal Simms (1955–61)
Ralph Paul (1961)
Johnny Olson (1961–72)
Chet Gould (1973–75)
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 25
No. of episodes CBS: 876
Syndicated: 1,315
Total: 2,191
Production
Producer(s) Mark Goodson
Bill Todman
Running time

24-25 minutes (CBS run)

22-23 minutes (syndicated run)
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
FremantleMedia
Broadcast
Original channel CBS (1950–67)
Syndicated (1968–75)
Picture format Black-and-white (1950–66)
Color (1966–75)
Audio format Monaural
Original run February 2, 1950 – September 3, 1975
Chronology
Related shows I've Got a Secret

What's My Line? is a panel game show which originally ran in the United States on the CBS Television Network from 1950 to 1967, with several international versions and subsequent U.S. revivals. The game tasks celebrity panelists with questioning contestants in order to determine their occupations. It is the longest-running U.S. primetime network television game-show. Moderated by John Charles Daly and with panelists Dorothy Kilgallen, Arlene Francis, and Bennett Cerf, What's My Line? won three Emmy Awards for "Best Quiz or Audience Participation Show" in 1952, 1953, and 1958 and the Golden Globe for Best TV Show in 1962.[1][2]

After its cancellation by CBS in 1967, it returned in syndication as a daily production which ran from 1968 until 1975. There have been several international versions, radio versions, and a live stage version.

In 2013, TV Guide ranked it #9 in its list of the 60 greatest game shows ever.[3]

Original CBS series (1950–1967)[edit]

Produced by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman for CBS Television, the show was initially called Occupation Unknown before deciding on the name What's My Line?.[4] The original series, which was usually broadcast live, debuted on Thursday February 2, 1950 at 8:00 p.m. ET. After airing alternate Wednesdays, then alternate Thursdays, finally on October 1, 1950 it had settled into its weekly Sunday 10:30 p.m. ET slot where it would remain until the end of its network run on September 3, 1967. The show was produced at CBS Studio 52 and, towards the end of its run,[specify] at CBS' Studio 50 (now the Ed Sullivan Theater) in Manhattan.

Radio[edit]

In addition to the television version, What's My Line was also broadcast on network radio for a short time. From May 20, 1952 an NBC Radio version was produced on Tuesday nights with the same cast as the TV version. The program was then broadcast live on CBS Radio on Wednesday nights at 8:00 PM for 10 months concluding July 1, 1953.[5][6] The radio version is notable for the only appearances of Marlene Dietrich, Marlon Brando, and Burgess Meredith.[7]

Hosts and panelists[edit]

Moderator John Charles Daly's 1950 CBS publicity photo for"What's My Line?"
Original panelists from the premiere broadcast, February 2, 1950
The panel in 1952. From left: Dorothy Kilgallen, Bennett Cerf, Arlene Francis and Hal Block with John Daly as the host.
(l–r) Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf, Dorothy Kilgallen and John Daly on the 15th anniversary show in 1965

The original series was hosted (called the moderator at that time) by veteran radio and television newsman John Charles Daly. Clifton Fadiman,[8][9] Eamonn Andrews, and Bennett Cerf[10] substituted on the four occasions Daly was unavailable.

The show featured a panel of four celebrities who questioned the contestants. On the initial program of February 2, 1950, the panel was former New Jersey governor Harold Hoffman, columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, poet Louis Untermeyer, and psychiatrist Richard Hoffmann. For the majority of the show’s run the panel consisted of Kilgallen, Random House publisher and co-founder Bennett Cerf, actress Arlene Francis and a fourth guest panelist. During the show’s earliest period the panel generally consisted of Kilgallen, Francis, Untermeyer and comedy writer Hal Block with Cerf replacing Untermeyer in 1951 and comedian Steve Allen replacing Block in 1953. Steve Allen left to launch The Tonight Show in 1954 and was replaced by comedian Fred Allen who remained on the panel until his death in 1956. After Kilgallen's death in 1965 the two remaining seats on the panel were never filled regularly again. The most frequent guest panelist was Arlene Francis' husband Martin Gabel, who appeared 112 times.

Regular announcers included Lee Vines (1950–1955), Hal Simms (1955–1961), Ralph Paul (1961), and Johnny Olson (1961–1967).

Game play[edit]

What’s My Line? was a guessing game in which four panelists attempted to determine the line (occupation), or in the case of a famous "mystery guest," the identity, of the contestant. Panelists were required to probe by asking only questions which could be answered "yes" or "no". A typical episode featured two standard rounds (sometimes a third, and very rarely a fourth) plus one mystery guest round. On the occasions on which there were two mystery guests, the first would usually appear as the first contestant.

Standard rounds[edit]

For the first few seasons, the contestant would first meet the panel up close, for a casual "inspection", and the panel was allowed one initial "wild guess." However, beginning in 1955 Daly simply greeted, then seated the contestant who instead met the panel at the end of the game. The contestant's line was then revealed to the studio and television audiences, and Daly would tell the panel whether the contestant was salaried or self-employed, and later in the series, dealt in a product or service.

A panelist chosen by Daly would begin the game. If he received a "yes" answer he continued questioning, but if he received a "no," questioning passed to the next panelist and $5 was added to the prize. The amount of the prize was tallied by Daly who flipped one of 10 cards on his desk. A contestant won the top prize of $50 by giving ten "no" answers, or if time ran out, with Daly flipping all the cards. As Daly occasionally noted, "10 flips and they (the panel) are a flop!". Daly later explained, after the show had finished its run on CBS, the maximum payout of $50 was to ensure the game was played only for enjoyment, and that there could never be even the appearance of impropriety. Later in the series, Daly would throw all the cards over with increasing frequency and arbitrariness, evidence the prize was secondary to game play.

Panelists had the option of passing to the next panelist—or even disqualifying themselves entirely if they somehow immediately knew what the contestant's occupation was, sometimes by virtue of having seen that contestant before—and they could also request a "conference," in which they had a short time to openly discuss ideas about occupations or lines of questioning.

Panelists adopted some basic binary search strategies, beginning with broad questions, such as whether the contestant worked for a profit-making or non-profit organization, or whether the product was alive (in the animal sense), worn, or ingested. To increase the probability of "yes" answers they would often phrase questions in the negative starting with "Is it something other than..." or "Can I rule out..."

The show popularized the phrase "Is it bigger than a breadbox?", first posed by Steve Allen on January 18, 1953 then refined over subsequent episodes. Soon, other panelists were asking this question as well.[11][12] On one occasion the guest was a man who made breadboxes. It was correctly guessed by Allen after Kilgallen asked "Is it bigger than a breadbox" and Daly could not restrain his laughter.[13][14]

Mystery guest round[edit]

The final round of an episode involved blindfolding the panel for a celebrity "mystery guest" (originally called "mystery challengers" by Daly) whom the panel had to identify by name, rather than occupation. In the early years of the show, the questioning was the same as it was for regular contestants, but starting with the April 17, 1955 show, panelists were only allowed one question per turn. Mystery guests usually came from the entertainment world, either stage, screen, television or sports. When mystery guests came from other walks of life, or non-famous contestants whom the panel but not the studio audience might know, they were usually played as standard rounds. However, the panel might be blindfolded, or the contestant might sign in simply as "X", depending on whether he would be known by name or sight.

Mystery guests would usually attempt to conceal their identities with disguised voices, much to the amusement of the studio audience. According to Cerf, the panel could often determine the identity of the mystery guest early, as they knew which celebrities were in town, or which major movies or plays were about to open. On those occasions, to provide the audience an opportunity to see the guest play the game, the cast would typically allow questioning to pass around at least once before coming up with the correct guess.[15]

Sometimes, two mystery guest rounds were played in an episode, with the additional round usually as the first round of the episode.

Style[edit]

What's My Line? is known for its attention to manners and class.[16] In its early years, business suits and street dresses were worn by the host and panelists, but by 1953, the men wore black suits with bow ties (a few guests in fact wore tuxedos) while female panelists donned formal gowns and often gloves.[17] Exceptions to this dress code were on the broadcasts immediately following the deaths of Fred Allen[18] and Dorothy Kilgallen,[19] in which the male cast members wore straight neckties and the women ordinary dresses instead of evening gowns.

The game followed a line of formality and adherence to rules. Although using first names at other points, Daly usually addressed using surnames when passing the questioning to a particular panelist. He would also amiably chide the panel[20] if they began a conference without first asking him.

However, even with such formality, Daly was not above trading bon mots with the panelists during the game and Bennett Cerf would often attempt to make a pun of his name. Occasionally Daly would amiably one-up Cerf if he felt the pun was of lesser quality. Cerf also played a myriad of games with Daly's full name (John Charles Patrick Croghan Daly) reciting it correctly only a handful of times over the course of the series.

Often Daly would need to clarify a potentially confusing question, but his penchant for verbose replies often left panelists more confused than before (which Danny Kaye once parodied as a panelist).[21] On more than one occasion, Daly "led the panel down the garden path" – a favorite phrase used when the panel was misled by an answer.

Production practices[edit]

On-camera[edit]

The program began with Daly and panel entering from off-stage as they were introduced. Prior to 1954, both panelists and host began the program in their seats, but this was changed responding to letters asking what panelists looked like away from their seats. The first panelist would be introduced by the announcer following the show's introduction, and each panelist would introduce the next in turn, with the last introducing Daly. During his tenure, Hal Block sat in the final seat and began the practice of introducing Daly with a pun. Upon his departure, Bennett Cerf took over this position and expanded these introductions, often telling long jokes which he tied to Daly in some way.[22]

To begin a round, Daly would invite the contestant to "come in and sign in, please" which by 1960 evolved to the more familiar "enter and sign in, please." The contestant entered by writing his or her name on a small sign-in board. Daly would then usually ask where the guest lived and, with a woman, if she should be addressed as "Miss" or "Mrs." Early in the show's run, the panel was allowed to inspect contestants, studying their hands, or label on their suit or asking them to make a muscle.

While ostensibly a game show, if there was time, it was also was an opportunity to conduct interviews. Line’s sister show, I've Got a Secret (and later the syndicated version of WML) engaged in the practice of contestants' demonstrating their talents. However, despite frequent requests by the panel (particularly Arlene Francis) such demonstrations rarely occurred as according to executive producer Gil Fates, Daly was not fond of this practice.[22]

Sponsors[edit]

After the first four episodes, the show gained its initial sponsor: Stopette spray deodorant made by Jules Montenier, Inc. This involved featuring the product in the show's opening, on the front of the panel's desk, above the sign-in board, and on Daly’s scorecards. Bennett Cerf explained that Dr. Montenier was ultimately ruined by his refusal to abandon or share sponsorship as the show entered new markets and became too expensive.[23][24] After Dr. Montenier sold Stopette to Helene Curtis,[25] the series was sponsored by a variety of companies which were either regular or rotating. Sponsors were accorded the same exposure on the set as Stopette. Near the end of its run, sponsors would be introduced in the opening title and given commercials during the show, but would not be displayed on the set. Frequent sponsors in the 1960s were Kellogg's cereals and Allstate Insurance.

Behind the scenes[edit]

Unknown to the public, mystery guests were paid $500 as an appearance fee, whether they won or lost the game. This was in addition to the maximum $50 game winnings, which guests sometimes donated to charity. Guest panelists were paid $750 as an appearance fee. The regular panelists were under contract and were paid "much more," according to Fates.[26] Bennett Cerf explained that when he became a permanent member of the program, he was paid $300 per week, and by the end of the series, they were being paid "scandalous amounts of money".[27][28]

Format[edit]

From 1950 to 1966, the game show was broadcast in black-and-white, as was typical of most game shows at the time. But by 1966, prime-time programs on all three networks started broadcasting in color. But after the show ended in 1967, CBS replaced the color videotapes with the kinescope versions instead for syndication. As a result of this change, the 1966-1967 episodes of What's My Line? were only shown in black-and-white after the show ended.[29]

The final CBS network show[edit]

CBS announced in early 1967 that a number of game shows, including What's My Line?, were to be canceled at the end of the season. Bennett Cerf wrote that the network decided that game shows were no longer suitable for prime time, and that the news was broken by the New York Times before anyone involved with the show was notified.[30]

The 876th and final CBS telecast of What's My Line? aired on September 3, 1967; it was highlighted by clips from past telecasts, a visit by the show's first contestants, and the final mystery guest, who was John Daly himself. Daly had always been the emergency mystery guest in case the scheduled guest was unable to appear on the live broadcast, but this had never occurred. Mark Goodson, Bill Todman and Johnny Olson appeared on-camera as well.[31][32][33]

Broadcast history and Nielsen ratings[edit]

Season Time slot Rank Rating
1 1950–1951 Sunday nights at 10:30 PM Not in the Top 30
2 1951–1952
3 1952–1953 #20 35.3 (tie)
4 1953–1954 #28 29.6
5 1954–1955 Not in the Top 30
6 1955–1956
7 1956–1957 #26 28.9 (tie)
8 1957–1958 Not in the Top 30
9 1958–1959
10 1959–1960 #27 23.9
11 1960–1961 #22 23.1
12 1961–1962 Not in the Top 30
13 1962–1963 #13 25.6
14 1963–1964 #24 22.6
15 1964–1965 Not in the Top 30
16 1965–1966
17 1966–1967

Syndicated revival (1968–1975)[edit]

With the end of the original What's My Line? Goodson-Todman struck a deal with CBS's syndication arm (now Viacom) to syndicate a new weekday videotaped edition. This version became a staple of local stations' afternoon and early evening schedules, especially from the 1971-72 season onward, when the FCC forced networks to cede one half-hour to their affiliates. The Prime Time Access Rule was intended to permit local stations to produce news and public affairs programming, but instead they turned to programs like WML, as practically all stations outside the largest markets found it unprofitable to produce their own shows locally.

Wally Bruner was the original host and was succeeded by Larry Blyden in 1972. Arlene Francis and comedian Soupy Sales were regular panelists and Bennett Cerf (up until his death in 1971) continued to make frequent appearances. Other panelists included Alan Alda, his father Robert Alda, Joanna Barnes, Joyce Brothers, Bert Convy, Joel Grey, Elaine Joyce, Ruta Lee, Meredith MacRae, Henry Morgan, Gene Rayburn, Nipsey Russell, Gene Shalit and Dana Valery.

The revival was considered by producers a merger of What's My Line? and its 1950s spinoff, I've Got a Secret, which resulted in noticeable changes from the original. As with Secret, contestants frequently demonstrated their skill or product after the game. Dollar signs for "no" answers were replaced by sequential numbers. Mystery guest rounds were no longer scored and simply ended with a correct guess or when time ran out. Added was a new game, "Who's Who?", in which four audience members, selected before the show, stood on stage with four occupations indicated on cards and panelists would attempt to place the correct occupations with the contestants.

The set, designed by veteran Goodson-Todman art director Ted Cooper, was predominantly blue and featured walls behind panel and host areas tiled with illustrations representing various occupations. The final 1974–1975 season used a set by Ron Baldwin and was red and yellow with blue walls with scattered question marks. Also, the hosts and panelists discontinued formal dress. However, the color animated intro of the final CBS season was reused for the main title sequence from 1968 to 1974.

A bright, contemporary music package was composed by Charles Fox. According to Fox's book, Killing Me Softly: My Life in Music, Robert Israel of Score Productions paid him a buyout fee of $1,000 for the work. The music was performed and recorded at CTS Studios in Wembley, England, with Fox, Israel and producer Mark Goodson in attendance.[citation needed]

Johnny Olson continued as announcer until 1972, after which a succession of guest announcers were used including Wayne Howell, Dennis Wholey, Bob Williams, Jack Haskell, and Chet Gould,[34] with Gould eventually taking over full-time in early 1973.

In 1971, Bennett Cerf died during the show's run. Stations continued to air shows where he was a panelist resulting in confusion among some fans, who were seeing "new" episodes with Cerf, long after hearing about his death. At the time, syndication involved tape sharing between stations airing series, with some having to air episodes later than others. This prompted producer Gil Fates, who recalled the situation in his book, What's My Line?: TV's Most Famous Panel Show, to send a form letter response to fans who had written complaining about the late Bennett Cerf's failure to disappear, some saying the television stations were using poor taste. Fates explained that Cerf indeed had died, but television was practicing a time-honored tradition of celebrating one's work long after their death. As he wrote in his book, Fates knew, but did not tell viewers, about the production costs that would have gone to waste had his company acceded to the demands, some coming from station managers, to scrap the Cerf tapes.[35]

The syndicated version ran for 1,315 episodes. In the fall of 1975 the final tapings aired in most parts of North America.

Larry Blyden, informed of the program's termination, was offered a job hosting a new Goodson-Todman game show, Show-Offs. He was killed in a car accident in Morocco at the age of 49, a few weeks after taping the pilot.

New versions of WML were planned as early as 1981, and in recent years Harry Anderson was announced as host of a 2000 revival. None of these revivals ever made it to air. In 2014, another pilot for a revival was shot to offer to stations in 2015.

It was during the run of the syndicated version that Woody Allen parodied What's My Line? in his 1972 film Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, with the segment "What Are Sex Perverts?" featuring a gameshow called What's My Perversion?. Appearing as panelists were Robert Q. Lewis, who had been a panelist on the original What's My Line?, and Pamela Mason, who had been a mystery guest.

After What's My Line?[edit]

25th anniversary special[edit]

In early 1975, with production of the syndicated version of the series on break, the show's staff went through the annual process of selling the syndication rights to TV stations across North America. That year, there were not enough takers to justify further production.[36] Just days after disbanding their technical crew, Goodson and Todman pitched the idea of a retrospective network special to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the program's CBS debut. The programming department at CBS turned down the idea[37] but ABC bought it. The special was broadcast by ABC on May 28, 1975, and is currently available for viewing at The Paley Center for Media.

In producing the special, the only existing records of the original series on kinescope film were removed from storage and brought to a Manhattan editing facility that Goodson-Todman Productions rented. There, company employees Gil Fates, Bob Bach, Pamela Usdan and Bill Egan[37] worked round-the-clock for three days to compile the 90-minute special under deadline pressure from ABC network official Bob Shanks.[38] In the process of viewing and editing the films for the special, they accidentally damaged or destroyed several kinescope films which spanned the entire run of the original series, including a few that did not make the final cut of the retrospective.[22] In addition, some unspooled film remained on the floor after the group's rented time at the facility ran out.[22] An April 1967 episode featuring Candice Bergen as the mystery guest was lost in its entirety, as was a June 1967 episode featuring both Betty Grable and F. Lee Bailey. Other episodes sustained only partial damage, such as a 1965 episode that is mainly damaged during the mystery guest appearance of Marian Anderson.[citation needed]

That's My Line[edit]

In 1980, Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions, creators of What’s My Line?, produced That's My Line which also highlighted the unusual occupations of ordinary people. However, the show was developed as a reality show and had no panel or game elements. What’s My Line? announcer Johnny Olson was the announcer for the show which ran for two seasons on CBS.

Live stage version (2004–present)[edit]

From November 2004 to July 2006, Jim Newman and J. Keith van Straaten produced one-hour live stage versions of the show at the ACME Comedy Theatre in Los Angeles, California, titled What's My Line? — Live On Stage. The Los Angeles version of the live show went on hiatus when van Straaten relocated to New York, then resumed in June 2007.

The production debuted in New York at the Barrow Street Theatre on March 24, 2008 for an announced run of six shows. The show is now an authorized production as it is licensed by FremantleMedia, the owners of What's My Line?. As of April 12, 2008 the New York mystery guests have been George Wendt, Moby, Natalia Paruz and Tony Roberts. Panelists have included Michael Riedel, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Frank DeCaro, Jonathan Ames, and original TV version veterans Betsy Palmer and Julia Meade. The first guest on the New York show (#75 in the production overall) was Pat Finch, who was the first guest on the first CBS episode.

In Los Angeles, panelists have included Carlos Alazraqui, Alison Arngrim, E.G. Daily, Andy Dick, Paul Goebel, Danny Goldman, Annabelle Gurwitch, Mariette Hartley, Elaine Hendrix, Marty Ingels, Cathy Ladman, David L. Lander, Kate Linder, Ann Magnuson, Jayne Meadows, Lee Meriwether, Patt Morrison, Rick Overton, Jimmy Pardo, Lisa Jane Persky, Nancy Pimental, Greg Proops, Mink Stole, Nicole Sullivan, Marcia Wallace, Matt Walsh, Len Wein, Wil Wheaton, Gary Anthony Williams, Debra Wilson, April Winchell, and Andy Zax.

Mystery guests have included Ed Begley, Jr., Stephen Bishop, Mr. Blackwell, LeVar Burton, Brett Butler, José Canseco, Drew Carey, Andy Dick, Michael and Kitty Dukakis, Hector Elizondo, Nanette Fabray, Peter Falk, Bruce Jenner, Larry King, Kathy Kinney, Bruno Kirby, Tara Lipinski, Lisa Loeb, Shelley Long, Leonard Maltin, Rose Marie, Wink Martindale, Sally Struthers, Rip Taylor, Judy Tenuta, Alan Thicke, Dick Van Patten, Lindsay Wagner, Wil Wheaton, Noah Wyle, Agnes Moorehead, and Sean Young.[39]

Panelists and guests who appeared on the original TV versions and on the stage version include Shelley Berman, Lee Meriwether, radio commentator Michael Jackson, Jayne Meadows, Nanette Fabray, Joanna Barnes, Julie Newmar, Margaret O'Brien, and Marty Ingels. Usually when such a veteran appears, there is a pristine-quality DVD screening of the original kinescope on a plasma screen.[citation needed] Non-celebrities include the lifelong Los Angeles-area resident who challenged the panel with her line, afterward reminiscing how 43 years earlier she had traveled to New York, where Arlene Francis identified her as a meter maid. A clip from the kinescope was played.

In addition, the show has featured relatives of the original cast: Jill Kollmar (daughter of Dorothy Kilgallen and Richard Kollmar), Nina Daly (daughter of John Charles Daly), and Vinton Cerf (co-inventor of the Internet and distant cousin of Bennett Cerf). It also included a segment in which Vint Cerf's son Bennett (named after the panelist) appeared as a guest.

Episode status[edit]

All of the original series' episodes were recorded via kinescope onto film, but networks in the early 1950s sometimes destroyed such recordings to recover the silver content from the film.[40] CBS regularly recycled What's My Line? kinescopes until July 1952, when Mark Goodson and Bill Todman, having realized it was occurring, offered to pay the network for a film of every broadcast.[citation needed] As a result, only about ten episodes exist from the first two years of the series, including the first three broadcasts.

The existing kinescope films (now digitized) have subsequently rerun on television. The series has been seen on GSN[41] at various times.

Some episodes of the CBS radio version of the 1950s are available to visitors to the Paley Center for Media in New York City and Beverly Hills, CA. Others are at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., where procedures to access them are more complicated.

Alpha Video released a DVD containing 4 episodes on February 26, 2008. This is an unofficial release of public domain episodes, and it's unclear if an official release will occur.[42]

International versions[edit]

Australia[edit]

An Australian version hosted by John Barnes debuted on station TCN-9 in 1956 during the opening week of Australian television and ran until 1958. It was replaced by a long-running version of To Tell the Truth. The archival status of this version is unclear.

Brazil[edit]

The Brazilian version of What's My Line? was called Adivinhe o que ele Faz? ("Guess What He Does?") and was hosted by Heloísa Helena. On December 16, 1956 Helena appeared as a contestant on the American version.[43]

Canada (French-speaking)[edit]

Chacun son Metier ("To Each His Job" or "To Each His Trade") ran from 1954 to 1959 and was hosted by Louis Morisset.[44]

On January 23, 1955 panelist Nicole Germain appeared as a contestant in the first round on the American version,[45] then sat on the panel next to Bennett Cerf for the second round.

On January 18, 1959, near the end of the Canadian run, host Morisset appeared as a contestant on the American version.[46]

Czech Republic[edit]

The Czech version of What's My Line? was called Hádej kdo jsem? ("Guess Who I am !") This TV show won the TýTý (main TV award in The Czech Republic) award for best TV show of 2008 and 2009.

Germany[edit]

Was bin ich? ("What am I?") ran on ARD (First German Television) from 1955 to 1958 with Robert Lembke (a Bavarian) as host.[47][48] Lembke was head of the news division of the public Bavarian Broadcasting Establishment Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) at the time and had bought the rights to the series during a visit to the BBC in 1954.

The best-known panel consisted of district attorney Hans Sachs, actress Marianne Koch, TV announcers Annette von Aretin and Anneliese Fleyenschmidt, and Guido Baumann, head of the Swiss radio and TV station DRS. Austrian TV announcer Ingrid Wendl would usually fill in for Annette von Aretin if the latter was not available.

Guests received 5 Deutsche Mark (DM) for each "no" answer and the panel was allowed 10 "no" answers. Prize money was given in a porcelain piggy bank, and Lembke used to insert a 5 DM coin into the Bank's slot for each "no", producing a loud, characteristic sound. In relation to this, Lembke's most famous line "Welches Schweinderl hättens denn gern?" ("Which piggy would you like to have?", spoken in Lembke's strong Bavarian accent), which referred to differently-colored piggy banks.

Playing rules were almost idendtical to the original American rules on What's My Line with two notable exceptions:

  • Before starting into the line of questions, Robert Lembke would ask the regular guests to perform a "typical gesture" that would occur regularly in their line of working, but wasn't recognizable too easily. A hairdresser, for example, would not perform the gesture of combing a customer's hair but of simply lifting a strand of hair before using the comb.
  • The "celebrity guest of honor" (German equivalent to the "mystery celebrity guest") would receive neither a piggy bank nor money to fill it but accessories to something he would indulge in privately, ascending in value. So if a secret guest of honor would e. g. be a painter in his private time he would receive something like a small paint brush on the first "no" up to an easel on the tenth "no". A keen reader would receive up to ten books by his favorite authors et cetera.

The series returned from 1961 and ran until Lembke's unexpected death in 1989. The series returned as a weekly program on Kabel 1 from 1999 to 2005,[49] hosted by Björn Hergen Schimpf. The panel consisted of entertainer/comedians Herbert Feuerstein and Tanja Schumann, talk-show host Vera Int-Veen, and former German minister of labour and social affairs Norbert Blüm.

Indonesia[edit]

The Indonesian version is called Kuis Siapa Dia ("Who He/She Is"). First premiered on August 3, 1992, it was one of the most successful and legendary quiz show in Indonesia. Created by Ani Sumadi. After 15 years, the show is aired again on Trans 7 TV station starting from 27 Oktober 2014.

Lithuania[edit]

The Lithuanian version began in late 2010 under the name "Kas tu toks?" (Who Are You?). It is broadcast on Lietuvos Rytas Television.

Puerto Rico[edit]

A Puerto Rican version aired, and Puerto Rican panelist Sylvette de Aldrey appeared as a contestant on the American version of the program on the 1955 Christmas episode.

South Korea[edit]

The South Korean version began in 1956 by the South Korean government and run as a non-profit organization.[50] On July 28, 1963 a panelist from this version, Miss Keun Oh Kim, appeared as a contestant on the American version.

Spain[edit]

The Spanish version was called Adivine su vida[51] and ran from 1960–1961.

United Kingdom[edit]

A British version aired on BBC Television Service from July 16, 1951 to May 13, 1963.[52]

The host (called "chairman") on the premiere was Gilbert Harding, who was replaced by Eamonn Andrews for the remainder of the run. Regular panelists included Harding, Lady Isobel Barnett, Barbara Kelly, David Nixon and Cyril Fletcher, while Katie Boyle, Jerry Desmonde, Ghislaine Alexander, Marghanita Laski, Frances Day and Elizabeth Allan were among the others.[53]

There was also a radio version for British listeners on Radio Luxembourg. As Andrews and Harding had exclusive contracts with the BBC, their places were taken by Peter Martyn (later Bernard Braden) and Richard Attenborough. Original-series regulars Nixon, Barnett and Kelly also appeared.

The series returned, on BBC2 with David Jacobs as host, from August 23, 1973 to May 18, 1974. Regular panelists were William Franklyn, Lady Isobel Barnett, Kenneth Williams, and Anna Quayle; later in the run, Quayle was replaced by Nanette Newman.[54]

Eamonn Andrews returned to host a revival on ITV from March 26, 1984 with John Benson as announcer. This version aired at night and, although mainly recorded, some episodes were screened live. Taped episodes may be identified as opening with "Tonight from London it's time for What's My Line?", while those broadcast live began with "Live from London". Regular panelists included Angela Rippon, Ernie Wise, George Gale, Jeffrey Archer, Barry Sheene[55] and novelist Jilly Cooper. After Andrews died in 1987, actress Penelope Keith assumed the role of chairperson.

The programme aired for a further two series from 1989 to August 28, 1990 with Rippon as host. The Keith and Rippon episodes were taped and screened in ITV's daytime schedule.

The show was revived by HTV West and Meridian from September 20, 1994 to December 17, 1996 hosted by Emma Forbes. A special one-off edition hosted by Hugh Dennis was produced for BBC Four in 2005, as part of a season about British culture in the decade following World War II, along with an episode of the original series, from October 5, 1957.

A one-off episode aired on the BBC website on March 7, 2011 as part of the BBC's Red Nose Day fundraiser 24 Hour Panel People. Stephen K. Amos served as presenter, with David Walliams, Christopher Biggins and Holly Walsh on the panel. Tom Felton was the mystery guest.

A parody of this show, entitled "What's My Crime?", appears in The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith and its film adaptation. It features a contestant whose crime was to have stolen two hundred bath plugs from hotels.

Venezuela[edit]

The Venezuelan version was called Mi Trabajo y Yo (roughly, "My Job and I"). On December 24, 1961 the director and moderator of this version, Jacques Lemoine, appeared as a contestant on the American version.[56]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Awards for "What's My Line?" (1950)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  2. ^ "Golden Globe won by What's My Line?". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  3. ^ Fretts, Bruce (June 17, 2013). "Eyes on the Prize", TV Guide, pp. 14 and 15, http://www.tvguide.com/news/greatest-game-shows-1066568.aspx.
  4. ^ Weiner, Ed; Editors of TV Guide (1992). The TV Guide TV Book: 40 Years of the All-Time Greatest Television Facts, Fads, Hits, and History. New York: Harper Collins. p. 174. ISBN 0-06-096914-8. 
  5. ^ Adams, Val (March 1, 1953). "Guest Relations Is Big Business". New York Times. 
  6. ^ Cox, Jim (2002), Say Goodnight, Gracie, The Last Years of Network Radio, McFarland and Company, Inc., p. 124 
  7. ^ https://www.facebook.com/groups/728471287199862/permalink/741975149182809/?comment_id=749202948460029&offset=0&total_comments=47
  8. ^ "Episode #410 summary from TV.com". v. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  9. ^ "Episode #411 summary from TV.com". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  10. ^ "Episode #382 summary from TV.com". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  11. ^ "First Breadbox episode. Summary at IMDB". Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  12. ^ "First mention of "breadbox". Episode summary". Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  13. ^ "Summary at TV.com of show with contestant who made breadboxes". Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  14. ^ "Video of Man who Made Breadboxes". Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  15. ^ Cerf, Bennett (session 16) (1968-01-23). Notable New Yorkers. Interview with Robbin Hawkins. Columbia University Libraries Oral History Research Office. New York, New York. Retrieved 2008-04-27.  at p. 744, 54:37.
  16. ^ "WSJ opinion piece of style and civility of WML". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  17. ^ Terry Teachout, The Games People Played in a Simpler Time, The New York Times, October 28, 2001
  18. ^ "Video WML after Allen's death". YouTube. Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  19. ^ "Video WML after Kilgallen death". YouTube. Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  20. ^ "Video of Daly "chiding" panel (at 8:30)". YouTube. Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  21. ^ "What's My Line? - Louella Parsons; Danny Kaye [panel] (Nov 5, 1961)". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-05-04. 
  22. ^ a b c d Fates, Gil (1978). What's My Line?: TV's Most Famous Panel Show. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 
  23. ^ Cerf, Bennett (session 16) (1968-01-23). Notable New Yorkers. Interview with Robbin Hawkins. Columbia University Libraries Oral History Research Office. New York City. Retrieved 2008-04-27.  at p. 730, 33:24.
  24. ^ "Audio of Hawkins interview with Cerf from Youtube". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  at 4:30
  25. ^ "Helene Curtis company history". Helene Curtis Industries, Inc. Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
  26. ^ Fates p. 44
  27. ^ Cerf, Bennett (session 16) (1968-01-23). Notable New Yorkers. Interview with Robbin Hawkins. Columbia University Libraries Oral History Research Office. New York City, New York. Retrieved 2008-04-27.  at p. 733, 37:30.
  28. ^ "Audio of Hawkins interview with Cerf". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  at 8:30
  29. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042168/trivia
  30. ^ Cerf, Bennett (session 16) (1968-01-23). Notable New Yorkers. Interview with Robbin Hawkins. Columbia University Libraries Oral History Research Office. New York City, New York. Retrieved 2008-04-27.  at p. 750, 1:03:30.
  31. ^ "Episode #876 Summary from TV.com". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  32. ^ "Video final episode". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  33. ^ "IMDB final episode summary". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  34. ^ "Gould at IMdb". Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  35. ^ Fates pp. 113–115
  36. ^ Fates p. 198
  37. ^ a b Fates p. 204
  38. ^ Fates p. 113
  39. ^ "List of Celebrity Guests from Stage version". van Straaten Entertainment, inc. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  40. ^ "Albert Hodge: Captain Video Of TV". Washington Post. March 22, 1979. p. C12. 
  41. ^ Elliott, Stuart (2008-01-10). "NY Times article on WML on GSN". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  42. ^ "Photo of DVD confirming availability". Oldies.com. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  43. ^ "Episode 341 Summary". Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  44. ^ "IMDB page". Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  45. ^ "Episode 242 summary". Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  46. ^ "Episode summary from TV.com". Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  47. ^ "IMDB page". Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  48. ^ "Video of show" (in German). Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  49. ^ ""Was bin ich?" 2000 version IMDB". Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  50. ^ "Episode 674 summary". Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  51. ^ "Adivine su vida at IMdb". Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  52. ^ "British version What's My Line? page". UKGameshows.com. Retrieved September 22, 2009. 
  53. ^ "Photo from original UK series". Retrieved September 22, 2009. 
  54. ^ "Photo from 1973 series". BBC. Retrieved Sep 22, 2009. 
  55. ^ "Filmography SHEENE, Barry". British Film Institute. Retrieved Oct 28, 2009. 
  56. ^ "Episode #594 Summary". Retrieved 2009-07-04. 

External links[edit]