Pantomime Quiz

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Pantomime Quiz
Mike Stokey and timekeeper Sandra Spence in 1952.
Also known asPantomime Quiz Time
Presented byMike Stokey
Country of originUnited States
Running time24–26 minutes
Production companyMike Stokey Productions
Original networkKTLA (1947–1949)
CBS (1949–1957)
NBC (January–March 1952)
DuMont (1953–1954)
ABC (1955; 1958–1959)
Original releaseNovember 13, 1947 (1947-11-13) –
October 9, 1959 (1959-10-09)

Pantomime Quiz, initially titled Pantomime Quiz Time and later Stump the Stars, was an American television game show produced and hosted by Mike Stokey. Running from 1947—1959, it has the distinction of being one of the few television series—along with The Arthur Murray Party; Down You Go; The Ernie Kovacs Show, The Original Amateur Hour; and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet—to air on all four TV networks in the US during the Golden Age of Television.


Based on the parlor game of Charades, Pantomime Quiz was first broadcast locally in Los Angeles from November 13, 1947, to 1949. In that format, it won an Emmy Award for "Most Popular Television Program" at the first Emmy Awards ceremony. The competition involved two teams of four contestants each (three regulars and one guest). In each round, one member acts out (in mime) a phrase or a name while the other three try to guess it. Each team had five rounds (in some broadcasts there were only four); the team that took the least amount of time to guess all phrases won the game.

Home viewers were encouraged to send in suggestions for phrases to be used in a telecast. Those that were actually used earned cash or a prize for the people who sent them. A bonus was given if the team trying to solve it could not do so within two minutes.

Broadcast history (national)[edit]

In June 1949, Pantomime Quiz became the "first locally [Hollywood] originated show to be aired in New York via kine recordings."[1] The broadcasts over WCBS-TV were sponsored by Chevrolet dealers "beginning early in September for a price of about $1,200 weekly."[1]

The program was picked up by CBS Television in October 1949 and ran on that network, usually during the summers, until August 28, 1951. After this, NBC Television took it as a mid-season replacement from January 2 to March 26, 1952. CBS then took back the series from July 4 to August 28, 1952. NBC never aired the program again.[2] Reruns of the show, with the title Hollywood Guess Stars, began on WPIX in New York City on November 20, 1952.[3]

The DuMont Television Network took the series from October 20, 1953, to April 13, 1954, after which it went back to CBS from July 9 to August 27, 1954.[2]

ABC finally took the charades game for a mid-season slot much like NBC, airing the durable quiz from January 22 to March 6, 1955. After CBS took it back they ran it for three more summers (July 8 to September 30, 1955; July 6 to September 7, 1956; July 5 to September 6, 1957) before the network dropped the program altogether.[2]

After a seven-month absence, ABC picked up Pantomime Quiz from April 8, 1958, to September 2, 1958; on May 18, 1959, the show began airing on ABC in daytime and concurrently with a primetime show beginning on June 8. However, September 28 saw the end of the primetime version, with the daytime version ending October 9, 1959.[2]

An Australian version aired in 1957 on Melbourne station GTV-9 and Sydney station ATN-7, with Harry Dearth, George Foster and Jim Russell among those appearing,[4] but proved to be short-lived, running from March to November.


Stump the Stars
Host Mike Stokey welcomes celebrity guests Angie Dickinson and Walter Slezak, 1963
Also known asMike Stokey's Stump the Stars
Presented byPat Harrington, Jr. (1962)
Mike Stokey (1962–1970)
Country of originUnited States
Running time22–24 minutes
Production companyMike Stokey Productions
Original networkCBS (1962–1963)
Syndication (1964/1969–1970)
Original releaseSeptember 17, 1962 (1962-09-17) –
September 25, 1970 (1970-09-25)
Nancy Sinatra and Tommy Sands on Stump the Stars (1962)

On September 17, 1962, Pantomime Quiz returned to the air as Stump the Stars on CBS with Pat Harrington, Jr. as the emcee. Stokey replaced Harrington on December 17 and continued as both host and producer until the September 16, 1963, finale.

Soon after, Stokey began recording a new syndicated version which ran from February 24 to September 2, 1964. It returned five years later (September 8, 1969) as Mike Stokey's Stump the Stars. As the title suggests, Stokey returned once again to host.

Celebrity Charades[edit]

January 1979 brought another syndicated revival with a few tweaks and a new name - Celebrity Charades. Jay Johnson was the host; This version aired until September. The first three episodes reran on GSN in the 1990s.

On June 20, 2005, AMC revived the series, which was presented by Hilary Swank and her then-husband Chad Lowe. Swank, Lowe, and director Bob Balaban were the producers - although only Lowe hosted. In this version each team had its own room in which to compete. One player from each team is sent to midstage (actually the middle of a New York City loft apartment) to retrieve a phrase to be acted out in his/her team's room. When the team guesses the phrase correctly, the person making correct guess is sent out to midstage for another clue, and so forth until five phrases are guessed. The first team that guesses the phrases' common theme wins the game. However, this version did worse than any of the ones before it, running for a mere five episodes until the experiment ended on June 24.

Celebrity guests[edit]

Some of the "stars" who were "stumped" on Pantomime Quiz or Stump the Stars:

Episode status[edit]

Many episodes of Stump the Stars and Pantomime Quiz exist, and are held by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.[5][6]

A few episodes that appear to be public domain have been available on the private trading circuit; and also appear on YouTube.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "KTTV's 'Pantomime' To N.Y. Chevy Dealers" (PDF). Billboard. 25 June 1949. p. 10. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d McNeil, Alex (1997). Total Television (4th ed.). Penguin. pp. 639-640. ISBN 0-14-024916-8.
  3. ^ "Local Station Activity (cont'd)". Ross Reports on Television including The Television Index. 16 November 1952. p. 3. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  4. ^ "The Age - Google News Archive Search".
  5. ^ UCLA archive website Archived 2012-07-07 at
  6. ^ UCLA archive website Archived 2012-07-07 at


External links[edit]