What's My Line?

EPISODE #20

Season 2, Ep 5, Aired 10/15/50
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  • Episode Description
  • EPISODE EXISTS ON KINESCOPE. BENNETT CERF'S FIRST APPEARANCE ON "WHAT'S MY LINE?" Game 1: Fred Martini - "Seal Trainer" (salaried; from the Bronx, NY) Game 2: Miss Alice Matthews - "Cosmetics Buyer" (salaried; from Chicago, IL) Game 3: Gloria Swanson (3/27/1899 - 4/4/1983) (as Mystery Guest) Game 4: Edwin S. Lurie - "Tea Taster" (self-employed; from New York City, NY; he wore an American Legion lapel pin on his coat) A backup profession was listed in Gil Fates' notes for a (male) housewrecker. - Suzanne (2008) . .moreless

  • Cast & Crew
  • John Daly

    Moderator (1950-1967)

  • Arlene Francis

    Regular Panelist (1950-1967)

  • Dorothy Kilgallen

    Regular Panelist (1950-1965)

  • Gloria Swanson

    Mystery Guest

  • Bennett Cerf

    Guest Panelist

  • Fan Reviews (0)
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  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (2)

    • Bennett: (to the cosmetics buyer) Read any good books lately?

    • Announcer: Take a good look at this woman. If you saw her in a shoe store, would you be able to tell what she does for a living? Is she a truant officer? A woman scientist? A blues singer? What would you say if she turned to you and asked... Woman: What's my line?

    Notes (5)

    • FLIP REPORT: John has yet to establish the practice of flipping all the cards when a contestant wins the full prize due to time. He awards the money to the final contestant based on time, but the remaining cards stay firmly seated. - agent_0042 (2008) TIDBITS: This is the first episode since EPISODE #5 that is available to be aired on GSN. Unless it happens on the still-existing EPISODE #13, the name of the mystery challenger is displayed on-screen for the first time. John can be seen smoking in one of the segments. - agent_0042 (2008)

    • (1) WELCOME ABOARD, BENNETT CERF!!! Tonight's show marked the first appearance of a man who would go on to make a huge impact on "WML?" in the years to come, Random House publisher Bennett Cerf. This initial guest panelist appearance by the soon-to-be-designated "publisher/panelist" was notable in two ways: First, it was the only time Bennett appeared on the panel alongside Louis Untermeyer, whom he would replace in the second chair beginning with EPISODE #42 of March 18, 1951; and second, Mr. Cerf was filling in this evening for Hal Block, whom he would replace in the "anchor" position of the panel desk effective with EPISODE #145 of March 8, 1953. With this first appearance of Bennett's, the nucleus of the "WML?" panel as viewers will come to know it begins to come together, but again, it will be a few more months before the pieces truly assemble for the balance of the show's run on CBS. (2) "WML?" TYPESETTING WATCH: As with the last "official" show up to this point to be preserved, EPISODE #5 of April 12, 1950 (though unbeknownst to once and future "WML"?" producer Gil Fates, EPISODE #13 of August 2, 1950 also exists, but is not part of the GSN "canon"), the panelists' nameplates are still set in Stymie Extra Bold, and now likewise is Mr. Daly's nameplate on his moderator's desk; and the occupation overlay screens are still done in "hand-painted" type. (3) "WML?" CREDITS AND CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: The end credit card graphics for "WML?" have now settled on the design and layout that will be in use through 1954, with a background of diagonal lines set at a 45-degree angle, the "Directed by" line set in Franklin Gothic Condensed, and the names set in a script type called Gillies Gothic Bold. The production credit is now given as "CBS with Mark Goodson-Bill Todman," again anticipating the 1958 change in production order of the show. Of the production crew, only director Franklin Heller is credited this evening. And GSN's virulent, venomous and vile practice of "crunching" the screen during the end credits continued without interruption on its most recent airing of this landmark episode on March 1, 2008. (4) GSN's March 1, 2008 airing was followed by the July 1, 1963 edition of "I've Got a Secret," with Henry Morgan sub-hosting for Garry Moore, and the panel introduced here as Bill Cullen, Betsy Palmer, Alan King and Bess Myerson. The celebrity guest was Jack E. Leonard. - W-B (2008)

    • WELCOME TO THE PANEL MR. CERF!!! Unknown to the panel this night, this episode would be a historic occasion. For the very first time, Bennett Cerf sits in on the panel as a guest panelist. Of course, it would be another year and a half before he takes up his regular seat on the panel. Ironically, he is sitting in the "anchor" position, which he would occupy for 14 years from 1953 to 1967. He does ask many intelligent questions, which would be his future trademark. However, he never gets a chance tonight to display his best feature, that of telling the worst puns ever heard on television. As for the rest of the panel, it is a fairly successful night. Arlene makes the last-second "save" as she guesses that Mr. Martini is a seal trainer. She also correctly guesses that the second contestant is a cosmetics buyer. The panel as a group are also successful in guessing mystery guest Gloria Swanson. Miss Swanson was on the show to promote her new radio show which would be debuting soon. Also in 1950, she would appear as faded film star "Norma Desmond" in the classic film "Sunset Boulevard." Directed by Billy Wilder, Gloria's co-stars were William Holden and Erich Von Stroheim. Also featured is a cameo by Cecil B. DeMille. (I'M READY FOR MY CLOSEUP, MR. DEMILLE). The story that was the basis for the film would later be adapted into a successful 1994 Broadway musical featuring Glenn Close as "Norma." Unfortunately, the time ran out as they were questioning the tea taster, so he won the game by default. All in all, this was a good night for the panel. - Sargebri (2004) SUNSET BOULEVARD REVISITED: The 1994 Broadway musical "Norma" was not the only project to have been based on "Sunset Boulevard." Beginning in 1972 with a parody of the movie and continuing to about 1977, Carol Burnett did a recurring series of comedy sketches which were very loosely based on the film, generally referred to as "Nora Desmond," on her long-running 1967-1978 variety show. Miss Burnett played the aging screen actress as "Nora Desmond," while the Erich von Stroheim character of her butler, "Max," was played by Harvey Korman as "Max von Stroheim." Between 1961 and 1966, Miss Burnett made four mystery guest appearances on the CBS network "WML?" - W-B (2008)

    • In Gil Fates' 1978 WML book, in Appendix A of mystery guests, film producer Sam Goldwyn is incorrectly listed as a mystery guest on 10/14/1950, which could have been a typo for the date of this episode. However, Sam Goldwyn did not make an appearance on this episode. His appearance was actually on the episode of 10/14/1951, which is unfortunately lost to history. - Suzanne (2004) This is Bennett Cerf's first appearance on What's My Line? as a guest panelist. He eventually becomes a permanent panelist on EPISODE #42 of March 18, 1951 and stays with the show until its cancellation in 1967. He then makes frequent guest appearances on the syndicated version of WML, but never becomes a regular panelist on the syndicated series. A clip of Bennett Cerf from this episode is shown on the final CBS network EPISODE #876 of September 3, 1967. - Suzanne (2004) Gloria Swanson's hat was quite amazing. It fit all-over snug to her head and was accented by a tree growing out of the top! Yes, a tree with branches! On the branches were sparkly decorations. Gloria promoted her new radio program which was scheduled to begin two weeks from tomorrow. Also mentioned was her upcoming Command Performance for the British Royal Monarchy, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England. These are the parents of the future Queen Elizabeth II. In what was very amazing to see, during Gloria's post game conversation, a female model walked on stage wearing a stylish ladies' suit designed by Elsa Schiaparelli. John told Gloria that the suit was a gift to her, compliments of the sponsor, Jules Montenier, Inc. and Schiaparelli. Gloria was very pleased. - Suzanne (2004) Per Gil Fates' handwritten logs, a kinescope of this episode exists. Gloria Swanson is again a mystery guest on the 15th anniversary show on February 14, 1965. This episode is referenced. - Suzanne (2004) ........................................................................................................................................................ FIVENINEGAL'S THOUGHTS - It was great to see Bennett's first appearance on the panel. Little did he know then what was to come! Because it kept fading in and out of focus, I found the kinescope of this episode very challenging. But, hey, I'm just glad it's still around! There is a funny moment when Louis starts discussing something with DK and John reminds them, "There's been no request for a consultation, panel!" Challenging John, Dorothy responds with, "Oh, there was I thought. I asked Louie if he wanted one!" (Good try, DK!) Arlene was SO CLOSE on her wild guess for contestant #2 when she said "Department Store Buyer"! She was very wise to keep going down this line of reasoning, as she quickly guessed the woman's profession. Gloria Swanson seemed so sweet and professional! A truly lovely and charming person. Her appearance makes me want to run out and see all of her films! Even though the day and time switch first happened on EPISODE #18 on October 1, 1950, John made an announcement of the new time slot at the end of this episode: Sundays at 10:30 PM Eastern Time. It would stay there for many, many years to come. I love this show! - fiveninegal (2004)

    • THE LOOK OF THINGS - There is evidently some redecoration going on, because instead of curtains hanging behind John, panels of material are haphazardly hung. This caused this episode to have an unprofessional appearance. - Suzanne (2004) Tidbits: Tonight's short film, seen prior to the opening scrolling credits, features a lady in a shoe store trying on shoes, while a shoe salesman helps her. At the end of the show, a preview photo of a blond woman who is one of next week's regular contestants is shown. - Suzanne (2004) Bennett Cerf (5/26/1898 - 8/27/1971) Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Louis Untermeyer, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf. Hal Block had the night off.

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