CBS (ended 1975)



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Password was a simple word-association game, but became one of the most popular and beloved game shows of all time. It was the first successful show to pair a contestant with a celebrity partner and among the first to return after being cancelled several years. A retooled version of "Password" began in 1979 (as Password+Plus and later in 1984 as Super Password) enjoyed two more highly successful runs. This Password page, however, focuses on the 1961-1967 and 1971-1975 versions. Two contestants competed, each paired with a star partner that played the entire week. Host Allen Ludden gave one member of each team a "password," and using 1-word clues only (proper nouns were accepted), it was the cluegiver's job to get his or her partner to guess the word for 10 points. If the 1st team didn't guess the word, the opposing team (who was allowed to "eavesdrop") could try to successfully communicate the word with a new clue (or sometimes even the same clue) for 9 points. Play alternated until the word was guessed with 1 point deducted for each clue or until all 10 clues were given at Ludden's discretion (if it was obvious the word would never be guessed) or if the cluegiver accidentally uttered part or all of the password. Illegal clues – such as hyphenated words and clues with more than one word – and taking too much time also passed control to the opponents will be sounded by the buzzer from The Word Authority of Dr. Reason A. Goodwin--The Editor of World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary. Usually, the stars (who played the entire weekday) gave the clues on the 1st word of a game with the contestants trying to guess the word; then the contestants gave the clues and the celebrities tried to guess and so on. Play continued until 1 team scored 25 points (or on occassion, a time's up whistle sounded). The contestant won $100 on CBS Daytime and ($250 for the nighttime portion) and his or her team played the Lightning Round (believed to be the 1st endgame in a game show). In the Lightning Round, the celebrity partner was shown a series of 5 new passwords, one at a time. He or she had 60 seconds (1 Minute) to communicate all 5 to the contestant at $50 per correct guess of the word. An illegal clue or a pass meant no money could be earned on that word. Up to $250 was possible in the Lightning Round. Each contestant played 2 games after which they both retired; a contestant could win a maximum of $700. Even contestants who were shut out of any cash winnings were given a consolation gift (usually a camera or a set of World Book encyclopedias or other stuff). The most impressive contestants returned each year for a tournament of champions, but this was little more than asking them back to play two more games for $700 extra. The show debuted on the CBS daytime schedule on October 2, 1961 and continued through September 15, 1967; a nighttime Portion premiered on January 2, 1962 and had 2 runs up to May 22, 1967. Actress Betty White was a frequent guest star(and in June 1963, was a permanent fixture in Ludden's life ... as his wife); she appeared very frequently in all revivals of Password, long after Ludden's death on June 9, 1981; little wonder she was among the best players of this game. Reruns were syndicated to local stations after leaving CBS daytime (in part due to a naughty new game show called The Newlywed Game which was scheduled against Password) before reappearing on April 5, 1971 as a part of the ABC daytime schedule. Play was largely as before with modest cash payouts. That's until November 18, 1974, when the powers-that-be decided to change the game. An all-star edition – as Password All-Stars with 6 stars playing for charity – and a revised format with 4 contestants (2 of which were paired with a celebrity partner) competing for 2 spots in the main game were seen more as screwing up a good thing than changing it. Needless to say, the show would die of a quick death leaving ABC after an 5 season run on June 27, 1975. However, Goodson-Todman did make some changes that DID work, and showcased them in another revival called Password Plus, which debuted on January 8, 1979 on NBC (hosted originally by Ludden and later Bill Cullen and Tom Kennedy). That show remained until March 26, 1982, but it returned on September 24, 1984 as Super Password (hosted by Bert Convy) and it lived on NBC until March 24, 1989. See Password Plus and Super Password for more details. Broadcast History of Password: October 2, 1961-September 15, 1967 CBS-TV: Monday-Friday at 2:00-2:30pm April 5, 1971-September 3, 1971 ABC-TV: Monday-Friday at 4:00-4:30pm September 6, 1971-March 17, 1972 ABC-TV: Monday-Friday at 12:30-1:00pm March 20, 1972-June 27, 1975 ABC-TV Monday-Friday at 12Noon-12:30pm.moreless

    December 2, 2008 DVD Releases

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    • Password was a "smart" game show, meaning the audience could play along.

      Allen Ludden was the original and one true host of Password, a game show where lots of synonyms and metonyms were thrown around, from 1961 to 1980. People knew what synonyms were, back then. Password was what was called a “smart” game show, as Jeopardy is now, meaning that to win, an I.Q. was essential. In the earliest, most successful Password years, the TV audience could play along, by not looking and not listening to the "password" as it flashed on the screen and was quietly spoken. Behind the scenes at Password, rarely appearing on camera, hovered the godlike Dr. Reason A. Goodwin, probably the smartest man in the world, who ruled on matters in doubt. But in front of the camera was my man, show host Allen Ludden, nicknamed "the happy highbrow," who had the right attitude about his stardom: He once said, "I'm only the host, the servant to the game." Among the roster of game show hosts there were some very fine ones, but there has never been a game-show host who fit the part better, and the show -- even when slicked up, and the set glittering and looking the the floor of a disco, and featuring all-celebrity contestants -- could not survive Ludden's passing.moreless
    • nighttttt / day

      This is an all time classic game show. It has humor and comedy. You get to see many different stars outside of their element as character in shows, It shows us just how many others think and have fun all at the same time. It is a show that could still be running today with a whole new set of stars and contestents. It brings fun to those who play from home. It is a gameshow that withstands time. The remake didn't catch on as well as the original but it was still a great show to watch and play along with.moreless
    • © 2007 Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

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