What's My Name? (radio program)

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What's My Name?
What's My Name radio show.jpg
Promotional photo for the show with Arlene Francis
GenreQuiz show
Running time30 minutes
Country of originUnited States
StarringArlene Francis
Produced byEd Byron
John Gibbs
Original releaseMarch 25, 1938 – July 30, 1949
Sponsored byPhilip Morris
Bristol Myers
Chase and Sanborn
Fleischmann's Yeast
Lydia Grey
General Electric

What's My Name? was a 30-minute radio program in the United States. The program was hosted by Arlene Francis and was among the first radio shows to offer cash prizes to contestants.[1]


Contestants on What's My Name? had to identify a person from a maximum of 10 clues given by the show's two hosts. People to be identified were celebrities and historical characters.[2] In the show's early days, a correct guess on the first clue earned the contestant $10; the amount earned dropped by $1 with each additional clue. In 1948, the top prize was increased to $100, with $50 and $25 prizes, respectively, for identification on the second and third clues.[3]

The program also involved listener participation to some extent, as listeners could send in questions to be used on the air.[4] People who submitted questions received $10 for each question used.[5]

A review of the first episode of What's My Name? offered little hope for its future, calling it "a rather drab show." The reviewer explained: "The program got off to a bad start in that the participants, for the most part, were unable to guess the identities of the characters asked for in the game until long after the listeners got the drift of the proceedings." The reviewer did, however, note that the show was "ably conducted by Bud Hulick and Arlene Francis."[6]

Francis was a constant on What's My Name?, serving as the hostess in all eight of its iterations on radio while her male counterparts changed. Hulick was the host in three versions. Other hosts over the years were Fred Uttal, John Reed King, Ward Wilson and Carl Frank.[3] Harry Salter and his orchestra provided the music.[7]

One source noted that What's My Name? "helped make a broadcasting fixture out of Arlene Francis."[8]

A 1942 review gave What's My Name? a much better evaluation than the earlier review mentioned above. Paul Ackerman wrote in The Billboard, "Name is well produced, moves quickly and manages to maintain an informal atmosphere directly traceable to Miss Francis's and Mr. King's manner with the contestants."[9]


What's My Name? was the brainchild of radio writers Joe Cross and Ed Byron. An August 1940 magazine article related that, after listening to a program called Professor Quiz, "the two of them shut themselves up in a hotel room, vowing they wouldn't come out until they'd thought up a game program that was as much fun as Professor Quiz. What's My Name? was the result." [5]


A version of What's My Name? was incorporated into the Paul Winchell-Jerry Mahoney Show on television. The program (originally titled The Speidel Show after its sponsor) ran from September 18, 1950 to May 23, 1954. In the show's early years, each episode began with a comedy skit featuring Winchell and Mahoney. That skit was followed by a quiz segment, What's My Name?, similar to the radio program.[10] The host for the quiz was Ted Brown.[11]

The TV version of the quiz failed to achieve the success of its radio predecessor. A review in The Billboard in August 1951 said:

Speidel has tried hard all season to combine the very accomplished Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney team and the former What's My Name? format into a successful stanza. The attempt has failed and, if anything, the talents of the ventriloquist and his little pal have been blunted by misuse."[12]

By 1953, the What's My Name? component of the Paul Winchell-Jerry Mahoney Show had been removed.[10]

Broadcast Schedule[edit]

Start Date End Date Network Day Time Sponsor
March 25, 1938 March 17, 1939 Mutual Friday 8 p.m. Philip Morris
July 5, 1939 September 27, 1939 NBC Wednesday 9 p.m. Bristol-Myers
November 4, 1939 March 1940 NBC Saturday 7 p.m. Oxydol
March 1940 August 16, 1940 NBC Friday 9:30 p.m. Oxydol
July 6, 1941 August 31, 1941 NBC Sunday 8 p.m. Chase & Sanborn
January 6, 1942 June 30, 1942 Mutual Tuesday 8 p.m. Fleischmann's Yeast
February 21, 1943 June 27, 1943 NBC Sunday 10:30 p.m. Lydia Grey
June 3, 1948 June 3, 1948 ABC Thursday 9 p.m. General Electric
June 10, 1948 November 27, 1948 ABC Saturday 9:30 p.m. General Electric
February 5, 1949 July 30, 1949 ABC Saturday 11:30 a.m. NA

Note: "NA"—information was not listed on the cited page.[3]


  1. ^ Reinehr, Robert C. and Swartz, Jon D. (2008). The A to Z of Old Time Radio. Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8108-7616-3. P. 280.
  2. ^ "Radio Note". Lewiston Evening Journal. March 25, 1938. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. P. 716.
  4. ^ McLean, James (July 5, 1939). "On The Air Waves". The Miami News. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Friday's Highlights". Radio and Television Mirror. 14 (4): 50. August 1940. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  6. ^ Banner (March 28, 1938). "New Shows On the Air: "What's My Name?"". Motion Picture Daily. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  7. ^ Grunwald, Edgar A., Ed. (1940). Variety Radio Directory 1940-1941. Variety, Inc. P. 343.
  8. ^ "14 April: Up and down with The Aldrich Family". Kallman's Alley. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  9. ^ Ackerman, Paul (January 17, 1942). "Program Reviews: "What's My Name?"". The Billboard. 54 (3): 8. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  10. ^ a b Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (1979). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows: 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-25525-9. P. 480-481.
  11. ^ McNeil, Alex (1996). Total Television. Penguin Books USA, Inc. ISBN 0-14-02-4916-8. P. 647.
  12. ^ Morse, Leon (March 17, 1951). "Paul Winchell-Jerry Mahoney Show". The Billboard. Retrieved 28 April 2014.