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The topic of this page has a Wikia of its own: What's My Line wikia.

Hosts
John Charles Daly (1950–1967)
Wally Bruner (1968–1972)
Larry Blyden (1972–1975)
Harry Anderson (2000)
Announcers
Lee Vines (1950–1955)
Hal Simms (1955–1961)
Ralph Paul (1961)
Johnny Olson (1961–1972)
Wayne Howell (1972)
Chet Gould (1972–1975)
Broadcast
Wml50
CBS Primetime: 2/2/1950 – 9/3/1967
NBC Radio (Weekly): 5/20/1952 – 8/27/1952
CBS Radio (Weekly): 9/3/1952–7/1/1953
Wml68
Syndication (Daily): 9/9/1968 – 9/3/1975
Wml00
Unsold Pilot for CBS: 6/10/2000
Packager
Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions (1950–1975)
Pearson Television (2000)

What's My Line? is the long-running panel game show where the celebrity panelists try to figure out unusual occupations of everyday people. It's famous for asking the question..."Is it bigger than a breadbox?"

PanelistsEdit

RegularsEdit

Arlene Francis
Bennett Cerf
Dorothy Kilgallen
Soupy Sales
Fred Allen

Semi-RegularsEdit

Louis Untermeyer
Hal Block
Steve Allen
Martin Gabel
Dana Valery
Alan Alda
Bert Convy
Elaine Joyce
Ruta Lee
Meredith MacRae
Henry Morgan
Gene Rayburn
Gene Shalit
Nipsey Russell

FormatEdit

Main RoundsEdit

In each game, a contestant would enter the stage and sign in his/her name, by virtue of the host saying, "Will you enter and sign in, please?" After that, he/she sat down at a desk next to the host. The game would begin by having the home audience be shown what his/her line was, and the host afterwards told the panel a clue which was usually "deals in a service" or "self-employed", something like those.

The panelists in turn then asked yes-or-no questions to the contestant which would hopefully lead to the right line. Each time the panelist in control got a "yes" answer, his/her turn continued, but if at any time the panelist in control got a "no" answer, he/she lost his/her turn and control passed to the next panelist in line; the contestant would also receive $5. Upon a "no" answer, the host would say the famous catchphrase "# down, # to go" (Ex: 2 down, 8 to go).

Sometimes a question would have the host make a brief explanation which could lead to either a "yes" or "no" answer. A panelist could be allowed to pass his/her turn without penalty; other times, the panel could call a conference. If the panel could guess the right line, they won the game, but if they got ten no answers, the contestant stumped the panel, won the game, and a maximum total of $50. Often, the host would throw the cards over (end the game) when time was running short or any other reason.

In the syndicated run, the contestant would demonstrate or perform the product or service in question.

The Score CardsEdit

In the entire original run and during Wally Bruner's stint as host, the money was printed on flip cards. The hosts would flip a card over when a panelist received a "no" answer; they would also flip all the cards over if time was running out, or any other reason. When Larry Blyden took over as host, the flip cards were replaced with slide cards built into the desk; they slid away with a press of a button. Finally, the money cards were replaced with descending numbers.

Final Round: Mystery GuestEdit

After two rounds of What's My Line? were played (sometimes more), a final round was played, but a little differently. This round featured the appearance of the "Mystery Guest". This was where the panelists were blindfolded so they couldn't see the guest. The mystery guest entered and signed in as usual, and that's where the game began. As usual the panel asked yes-or-no questions, this time to try and guess the name of the mystery challenger. What made this round more different was that this time, each panelist could only ask one question per turn, hence the rule "one question at a time", and they had two to three minutes to identify the guest, depending on the amount of time left in the show. While all this was going on, the mystery guest disguised his/her voice in a variety of ways.

Some mystery guests wouldn't be famous from the entertainment field, but from other walks of life; when that happened, those guests would play in the main rounds; instead of writing their names, they would write down a big "X" referring to them as Mr. or Ms. "X". One such main round mystery guest was future President Jimmy Carter.

In the original classic version, the mystery guest still scored for no answers, while in the syndicated run, the mystery guests were no longer scored. Also in the syndicated run in later years, if a panelist made a wrong guess of the guest, he/she would be free to take his/her blindfold off. Larry would announce that rule by saying "face law prevails."

Who's WhoEdit

In the syndicated run, whenever there was extra time, a special game was instituted called "Who's Who". This was where four members of the studio audience were lined up on stage, and their occupations were printed on cards. Each panelist took those occupation cards gave each to the appropriate contestant (the ones who they thought had that occupation). Each time one panelist failed, another panelist took a turn. The game ended when the panel was stumped or if a panelist could place the occupations with the right contestants. $25 was awarded for each stump for a grand total of up to $100.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: The theme song from this segment of the show was originally borrowed from the short-lived 1969–1970 syndicated game show He Said She Said hosted by the late Joe Garagiola.

In Popular Culture During What's My Line?Edit

What's My Lion?Edit

Warner Bros. created a Looney Tunes short that used a pun title. It was called What's My Lion? and saw Elmer Fudd hunt a mountain lion and didn't realize until the end of the cartoon that the lion came to Elmer's home as a hunting trophy.

What's My Crime?/101 DalmatiansEdit

In the classic 1961 animated Disney film 101 Dalmatians briefly spoofed What's My Line? as What's My Crime? What happened was that Horace & Jasper Badun, Cruella De Vil's offbeat henchmen, were watching the show when Cruella came in to tell them to kill the 99 kidnapped puppies tonight, but they elected to continue watching the show until it was over, at which point they would then do the job. The game itself was centered around crime & the law; the contestants were all criminals and the panel was shortened to three. Horace & Jasper continued watching the show while the puppies escaped from the room; when the show ended, Horace & Jasper chased after them until Pongo & Perdy arrived.

What's My Perversion?Edit

It was during the syndicated version that Woody Allen (who has appeared in a 1967 episode of the show itself) parodied the show in the 1972 comedy film Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) with the segment called "What Are Sex Perverts?" featuring a game show called What's My Perversion?. It was hosted by Jack Barry (The Joker's Wild) and appearing are the panelists Robert Q. Lewis (who had been a panelist on the show), Regis Philbin, Toni Holt and Pamela Mason (who had been a "Mystery Guest" on the show).

Whats My Perversion

Whats My Perversion

Magnavox OdysseyEdit

On the syndicated version in 1972, the production director of Magnavox Inc. came on the show to show the extremely short-lived console called the Odyssey. The secret was that he and host Larry Blyden were playing Tennis (which the panel failed to figure out).

What's My Part?Edit

In the 1974 episode of Sesame Street had a spoof of What My Line? called What's My Part?, hosted by Guy Smiley. There were two such sketches: Foot, in which the regulars Bennett Snerf (Bennett Cerf) and Arlene Frantic (Arlene Francis) were portrayed as regular people joined by Professor Hastings, Who accidentally identified the Mystery Guest (Foot) merely by complaining his "foot" was asleep, and Nose, in which Snerf and Frantic are portrayed as noseless monsters and joined by Cookie Monster, also noseless, so naturally the Mystery Guest stumps them...and even when they remove their blindfolds they still can't identify him!

25th Anniversary SpecialEdit

Main article: What's My Line? at 25

On May 28, 1975 (months before the cancellation of the syndicated run), ABC aired a 90-minute special of What's My Line called "What's My Line at 25". It was hosted by producer/creator Mark Goodson alongside Arlene Francis & original host John Daly. The special chronicled the life, times, and excellent moments of the show.

In Popular Culture After What's My Line?Edit

The Kentucky Fried MovieEdit

a segment from the 1977 movie called Courtroom for which in turn is a spoof of the popular reality court series Divorce Court (1957 version) the judge (played by Ross Durfee) can be briefly seen flipping through the score cards from 5 to 50.

That's My LineEdit

In 1980, CBS (the network that originally aired What's My Line?) & Goodson/Todman Productions produced & aired a special summer series called That's My Line. It was entirely based on What's My Line? except it was not a real game show; it was a simple Real People/That's Incredible-like reality show focusing on everyday people's unusual occupations. The show was hosted by Bob Barker and announced by former What's My Line? announcer Johnny Olson (who by that time became a team on The Price is Right); co-hosts for this show were Suzanne Childs, Tiiu Leek and Kerry Millerick (who joined in 1981).

What's Our Line?Edit

In the 1995 segment of Animaniacs called "Deduces Wild", Yakko, Wakko and Dot are sitting at a desk along with a sign that reads "What's Our Line?".

Proposed What's My Line? Pilots/RevivalsEdit

These are the eras that were made to revive the show but failed to have never aired.

1963Edit

A planned network daytime version was made for CBS at the time, but original host John Charles Daly made it perfectly clear that he would not host a five-days-a-week game show. Daly was so closely associated with WML? by that point the network shelved the project instead of finding a new host.

1981Edit

A version was planned at the time, pending on the success of the short-lived Robin Ward syndicated revival of To Tell the Truth in 1980. Details were sketchy as the revival never went past the talking stages and few if any other details are known, other than it was to be a five-days-a-week show.

1996Edit

Produced in a joint venture between All-American Television and Miramax Films. This was also the film company's (Miramax) first foray into television production.[1]

This version was described as "a new model" that would have blended the original features such as having a celebrity panel questions contestants in an effort to guess their occupation and also having the panel blindfolded to guess the identity of a famous person with "contemporary special effects and interactive twists".

CBS reportedly committed to six episodes for its fall 1999 schedule. However, according to Miramax TV president Billy Campbell, the deal crumbled because the network decided the show was too "costly and ambitious".

2000Edit

A pilot was shot on June 10, 2000 for CBS' primetime schedule hosted by Harry Anderson (Judge Harry T. Stone) of Night Court fame along with Catherine Bell (JAG), Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle; Breaking Bad), Betty White and Al Franken as the four panelists. It was one of two proposed shows for the network at the time. The other was the long-running reality competition series Survivor hosted by Jeff Probst. However, this pilot was turned down for the latter show.

In the same year, another revival of the show was supposed to be made with actress Gwyneth Paltrow but was "on hold"[2]at the moment.

2008Edit

This version was in the works with former Knight Rider and Baywatch star David Hasselhoff along with FremantleMedia (who owns the rights to the show)[3]but was never materialized.

2014Edit

Most recently, another pilot was made for a shot in the fall 2015[4][5]season in syndication. Developed by Debmar-Mercury with production studio FremantleMedia North America (which again owns the rights to this show) was supposed to feature the famed Improv theatre comedy group called "The Second City" as the four panelists. However, it was also never materialized.

What's My Line? Live On StageEdit

Since 2004, What's My Line? came back as a live stage show hosted by J. Keith van Straaten. People who appeared on the original series along with relatives of those appeared made appearances on the live show. The show went on a brief hiatus giving host Straaten time to move from Los Angeles to New York City from July 2006 to June 2007.

Mystery Taster (The Rachael Ray Show)Edit

On certain episodes of the popular talk show The Rachael Ray Show, they had their own version of the Mystery Guest game called "Mystery Taster". This was where a celebrity or a group of celebrities past or present came down the elevator while Rachael stood in the corner of her kitchen so she wouldn't see. She asked interesting questions (not restricted to yes or no) hopefully to lead her to the identity of the taster. There were two rounds of Mystery Taster, the first of which being at the start of the show, and the other was later in the show. After the second round in which the identity of the Mystery Taster was eventually revealed, Rachael & the surprise guest took some time to chat at the kitchen table.

GalleryEdit

Press PicturesEdit

MerchandiseEdit

Board GamesEdit

The original incarnation based on the original 1950s CBS version was released by Lowell in 1955.

The second incarnation based on the 1968 syndicated version was released by Whitman in 1969.

To celebrate the show's 50th anniversary at the time, a third edition was released by Endless Games in 2001.

BooksEdit

A book based on the show was created by Gil Fates and was released by Prentice Hall in 1978. In the book the producer of the classy panel show looks back over the quarter-century run of the series. (NOTE: Original host John Daly and panelists Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf and Dorothy Kilgallen are on the cover of the book.)

Record AlbumEdit

A record album based on the show was released by Dot in 1955, where audio recordings of eight "mystery guest" segments as originally seen on the show can be heard on the album.

StudiosEdit

Network VersionEdit

Grand Central Studios, New York City, NY (Early Episodes)
Studios 52, 59, and 50, CBS New York City, NY (Later Episodes)

Syndicated VersionEdit

Ed Sullivan Theater, New York City, NY (1968–1971)
NBC Studios 8H and 6A, New York City, NY (1971–1975)

RatingEdit

72px-TV-G icon svg

MusicEdit

1950
1st Open - "Melody in Moccasins" by Wilfred Burns
2nd Open - by Sacha Burland and His Orchestra Close - "Roller Coaster" by Henry Rene and His Orchestra

1968 - by Charles Fox and Score Productions

1972 - by Charles Fox and Score Productions

The Who's Who music of the 1971 version was the main from He Said She Said.

2000 - Unknown

SpinoffsEdit

Figure it Out – a kid's version on Nickelodeon similar to What's My Line? except the Secret was on a board and there were tons of surprises such as clues and slime. The panel still asked yes or no questions.

Additional PageEdit

What's My Line?/Quotes & Catchphrases
What’s My Line/Video Gallery

ReferencesEdit

  1. All American Television and Miramax Films Partner to Produce new 'What's My Line?' Game Show
  2. A "What's My Line?" remake with Gwyneth Paltrow is on hold | EW.com
  3. Redrawing "My" Line
  4. What's My Line? - On Camera Audiences
  5. Randy West > The Randy West Appreciation Group Hey, what's up with THIS?

LinksEdit

What's My Line? @ Pearson Television's official website (via Internet Archive)
Rules for What's My Line?
Jason Colflesh's What My Line? Page
Official What's My Line? Live on Stage site

YouTube Links & VideosEdit

The original What's My Line? channel
The First Ever Episode of the Original What's My Line
September 3, 1967 Finale
A playing of Who's Who
Clip of the 2000 Pilot