To Tell the Truth (1956)

CBS (ended 1967)
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  • show Description
  • Will the real John Doe please stand up? That's the famous catchphrase associated with one of the most enduring games of all time, To Tell the Truth. That's where a team of celebrity panelists attempted to determine which of three contestants is the actual person associated with a story. To Tell the Truth had five runs over a 45-year period, the first three versions of which are documented here. The object of each version, however, was identical: A team of three people, only one of which is actually associated with a story, introduce themselves. The host relates the person's story through an affidavit (which could be funny, serious, inspirational, having to do with their profession, political activity or cause they were actively involved in, etc.). The celebrity panelists, one at a time, question the three contestants (addressing them as No. 1, No. 2. and No. 3) in an attempt to expose the liars and determine the actual person. After all four panelists have had their turn to question the team, they voted separately as to who they thought was the real person associated with the story. If the panelist happened to know the real person in any way, the panelist would have to disqualify him/herself from voting & would count as an incorrect vote. Payoffs were based on the team's ability to fool the panel; the amount varied(each incorrect vote increased the amount of money the challengers received), depending on the version, but the maximum amounts were $1,000 in the CBS version, $500 in the 1969-1978 syndicated version and $1,000 again in the 1980-1981 syndicated revival. Three segments were played in the 1956-1968 series, and two games in all subsequent versions. To Tell the Truth debuted as a prime-time CBS entry in December 1956, and a daily show aired on CBS starting in 1962. Kitty Carlisle began her long association with the show in 1957. Other frequent panelists (some of them who quickly became so popular they were regulars) included Orson Bean, Polly Bergen, Peggy Cass, Tom Poston and Gene Rayburn. The CBS daytime show ended in 1968 & CBS daytime would be gameless for four years. The 1969 version of To Tell the Truth was among the best known of all versions of this durable show. Many game show fans fondly remember this version for the colorful, "groovy" set (used from 1969-1973, after which a conservative, blue-accented set was used) and its soft rock-flavored lyrical theme. Often, the contestants were invited to demonstrate their skill after their game; other times, skits and film vignettes were used to illustrate the person's story. Garry Moore (long associated with his daytime show and I've Got a Secret presided until December 1976. Bill Cullen took over for two weeks, after which Joe Garagiola took over the host's chair. Garagiola, a former professional baseball player, was intended to be a temporary host, but in the 1977-1978 season premiere, Moore (still recovering from throat surgery when the show was taped in June 1977) announced his retirement and named Garagiola his permanent replacement. Moore also used this final appearance to put to rest rumors surrounding his absence, fueled in part because of the "bicycling" method of syndicated programs still in use the 1970s (ergo, large markets got the most-recently taped episodes, while other markets got to show them afterward, sometimes up to two years later as "new" episodes). To Tell the Truth geared up for a final single-season syndicated run in 1980-1981, with Robin Ward as host. After two regular games were played, a new segment was played as thus: the four imposters (one of them associated with another story) returned for one final game. Each panelist could ask one question, and they each chose who the real person was. Payoffs were $100 per incorrect vote and $500 for a complete stumper. These three versions were all taped in New York City. See To Tell the Truth (1990) and To Tell the Truth (2000) for details on those versions ... and don't forget to tell the truth!moreless

  • Episode Guide
  • S 2 : Ep 21

    January 14, 1958

    Aired 1/14/58

  • S 2 : Ep 20

    January 7, 1958

    Aired 1/7/58

  • S 2 : Ep 19

    December 31, 1957

    Aired 12/31/57

  • S 2 : Ep 18

    December 24, 1957

    Aired 12/24/57

  • S 2 : Ep 17

    December 17, 1957

    Aired 12/17/57

  • Cast & Crew
  • Tom Poston

    Regular (1958-1968)

  • Ralph Bellamy

    Sub-Moderator (1957)

  • Orson Bean

    Regular (1964-1968)

  • Polly Bergen

    Regular (1956-1961)

  • Barry Nelson

    Panelist(Nighttime Show)

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Notes (21)

    • Tonight's sponsor is Zarumin.

    • Panel Members: Polly Bergen, Mike Wallace, Hildy Parks & Dick Van Dyke

    • Tonight's sponsor is Geritol.

    • Panel Members: Polly Bergen, John Cameron Swayze, Hildy Parks & Dick Van Dyke

    • Tonight's sponsor is Zarumin.

    • Panel Members: Polly Bergen, Hume Cronyn, Hildy Parks & Dick Van Dyke

    • Tonight's sponsor is Geritol.

    • Panel Members: Polly Bergen, John Cameron Swazye, Hildy Parks & Dick Van Dyke

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