The Hollywood Squares (1966)

NBC (ended 1981)



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The Hollywood Squares (1966)

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Welcome to The Hollywood Squares guide at After 2 failed multi-star games (People Will Talk and The Celebrity Game), Game show executive producers Merrill Heatter-Bob Quigley finally hit pay dirt with THE HOLLYWOOD SQUARES. The centerpiece of this classic game show was essentially a huge tic-tac-toe board. In each of the nine squares that sat a star (or often, more than one), armed with bluffs and quips aplenty. The show made its debut on NBC's daytime schedule on October 17-21, 1966. Actor-Comedian Peter Marshall served as "The Master of The Hollywood Squares" acting both as straight man and an abettor in the fun. 2 contestants, including a returning champion competed in a best 2-out-of-3 match of Tic-Tac-Toe. The male contestant was "Mr. X" while the female was "Miss Circle" (the "O"). In turn, each contestant chooses a star to which host Marshall read a question. Many of the stars gave zany bluffs (joke answers aka "Zingers") before coming up with their own answer; sometimes they also gave a funny explanation. It was up to the contestant to decide whether they would agree or disagree with the star. A correct judgment earned the player their mark in the square, but an wrong reply meant their opponent got the square. That's unless it led to tic-tac-toe for which the contestant had to earn himself/herself. The 1st player to complete a tic-tac-toe (up-and-down, across or diagonally) won the game and cash, which varied depending on the version: • NBC daytime: $100 per game+($300+100=$400 Bonus)=$500 per match up to $2500 (October 17, 1966-February 10, 1967). $200 per game, $400 per match up to $2000 from February 13, 1967 to June 20, 1980. • NBC nighttime (1968): $300 per game. • Syndicated (1971-1982): $250 per game. Certain games were designated as the Secret Square games (see below), which was a bonus prize (or prize package) for the contestant who won it. To earn the Secret Square prize package, the contestant had to choose that celebrity (up to that point, known only to the home audience) for which Marshall read a special Hollywood multiple choice question. If the contestant was correct in agreeing or disagreeing, he or she won the Secret Square prize package. The prize won with the Secret Square and the frequency played was as thus: • NBC daytime: The 1st or 2nd game of each match. A new prize package was worth started about $1000 and so on (especially if a trip, fur coat or boat were included) and depending on what was added grew in value until claimed. • NBC nighttime (Friday Night): The 1st 2 games of the show. The 1st prize was generally a trip (either around the world to Europe or South America), while the 2nd Secret Square was a new car (most frequently the 1968 Pontiac Firebird, though the Oldsmobile Cutlass and AMC AMX were also offered). • Syndicated: During the early years (1971-1973), the 1st 2 games of each show, later the 1st 3 games (1973-1978). At 1st, unclaimed Secret Square stashes carried over to the next playing, but later went lost if the contestant didn't win it. At first, each Secret Square was worth about $2000 but later, individual prize packages were worth as much as $7000! Later in the nighttime syndicated run (1978-1980) that went back to be having the 2 Games when "The Bonus Prize Squares" added to the nighttime syndicated run. The rules for becoming champion and reward also depended on the version you watched: • NBC daytime: Winning the best 2-of-3 match (which netted $400). At 1st, there was no bonus game; returning champions simply faced a new challenger before the commercial break and finally on September 6-10, 1976, a new "Bonus Prize Squares" game was added wherein the champion selected a star and won an merchandise item or additional cash prize ($500 to $5000) and in the 1978-1979 Season of the show, The Same merchandise items or the cash prizes are doubled ($1000 to $10,000 in 1979-1980). Originally, a 5-Match Champion retired undefeated also winning $2000 (Earlier $2500) and a new car. The bonus was upped handsomely on January 5-9, 1976 to include 2 cars (always at least one very nice car, such as the Chevrolet Caprice Classic or Pontiac Grand Prix), 1 Cruise Ship & $5000 cash for early of it's period (On January 3-7, 1977, the winners win 1 Car, 1 Cruise Ship & $10,000 Cash) are totaled $25,000 (Earlier it's all totaled $20,000). • NBC nighttime: The contestant in the lead won a bonus prize – usually a TV/stereo console or a new kitchen. Average value was about $1500. • Syndicated: The contestant in the lead won a new car – always an economy car (such as the Chevrolet Vega or Datsun B210). Also, in the NBC primetime and syndicated versions, when time expired in the middle of the game (with the sound of the horn aka "Tacky Buzzer"), each contestant was given $50 for each square they had after the final question was played (unless a contestant got a tic-tac-toe); even contestants who didn't win any cash were given $100 just for competing. Virtually every major star from every genre – television, movies, music, sports, experts & the stage of Broadway and other locales– of the 1960s through early 1980s are stopped by with their star quips and bluffs. Hollywood legends also appeared as cameos either as the star's squares or walk-ons. The most popular regulars were Rose Marie, Charley Weaver, Wally Cox, Morey Amsterdam, Abby Dalton, George Gobel and ... of course, longtime center square Paul Lynde. Paul Lynde – by the way – wasn't always the center square as he didn't become the permanent occupant of that space up to the weekday broadcast of October 14-18, 1968. Before Lynde the permanent center square, comedian Buddy Hackett was the most common star to sit in the center square (on the nighttime edition in 1968). Lynde was the center square on nearly every broadcast until he left on August 20-24, 1979; he returned to the center square for a part of the 1980-1981 Las Vegas syndicated season and was a special guest for not sitting the same center square, but sitting the different square for the final syndicated episode on September 11, 1981. Ernest Borgnine was the center square during the debut weekday broadcast of October 17-21, 1966, while Wayland Flowers & Madame was the NBC daytime show's last center square on the last weekday broadcast of June 16-20, 1980 and George Gobel was the last syndicated-version center square on September 7-11, 1981. On November 1-7 1971, a syndicated nighttime portion of The Hollywood Squares released. At first, the show was once-a-week, but once the show proved popular, it quickly expanded to a twice-a-week show starting on September 11-17 1972. 3 Months after the last NBC daytime show aired on June 20, 1980, the production of The Hollywood Squares moved to Las Vegas and the show expanded to five-day-a-week. The expanded syndicated format lasted one year (September 8, 1980-September 11, 1981) with a repeat of the last NBC-TV & Syndicated 1979-1980 Season for the 1981-1982 Season and being Distributed by RHODES PRODUCTIONS-A Filmways Company. 3 Theme songs of The Hollywood Squares were used. The 1st theme (1966-1969) called "The Silly Song" was composed by Jimmie Haskell. Beginning in the 1969-1970 season and it was replaced by a piece composed by William Loose for known to game show aficionados as "Merrill and Bob's Theme," it's the 2nd theme of The Hollywood Squares is mostly identified and ended before & after the 1978-1979 season. The disco-flavored theme called "The Hollywood Bowl" was composed by Stan Worth (who wrote many TV theme songs) became the 3rd and last theme song starting on September 3-7, 1979 and finishing on September 11, 1981. The Hollywood Squares ran on NBC daytime up to June 20, 1980, when it was replaced by David Letterman's ultimately unsuccessful daytime show. 3 revivals all had varying levels of success including a brief marriage to Match Game in 1983-1984 (as The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour); A 1986-1989 syndicated entry hosted by frequent original The Hollywood Squares square placer John Davidson (as The New HOLLYWOOD SQUARES) and the 1998-2004 edition (as HOLLYWOOD SQUARES "H2") hosted by talk show personality Tom Bergeron (Fresh out of WBZ-TV NBC "Now CBS 4" Boston's "PEOPLE ARE TALKING"). From April 2002 to October 2003, reruns of the Peter Marshall-hosted Hollywood Squares ran on Game Show Network; the package included 14 NBC-TV primetime and 116 syndicated episodes (130 total). Originally having aired in several weekday timeslots, the show was eventually downgraded to weekend-only airings (at 10:30 a.m. EST). Despite a promising start and wide promotion, the reruns never drew high ratings or young audiences (in part because many of the stars have died or are unfamiliar to younger audiences) and were eventually replaced with reruns of the Tom Bergeron Hollywood Squares edition right through August 31, 2007. On March 30-April 3, 2009 "(The All-New) HOLLYWOOD SQUARES" has came back to GSN-play everyday to the lineup for GSN LIVE. In 2010 The Show now seen on weekends featuring the 1st 2 Seasons of "HOLLYWOOD Squares" from 1998 to 2000. The Broadcast History of THE HOLLYWOOD SQUARES {NBC Daytime} October 17, 1966-October 1, 1976 Monday-Friday at 11:30 AM-12NOON Eastern October 4, 1976-September 29, 1978 Monday-Friday at 10:30-11:00 AM October 2, 1978-March 2, 1979 Monday–Friday at 1:00-1:30 PM (or 4:00-4:30 PM) March 5-August 10, 1979 Monday-Friday at 12:30-1:00 PM August 13, 1979-June 20, 1980 Monday–Friday at 10:30-11:00 AM. {NBC Nighttime} January 12-September 13, 1968 – 9:30-10:00 PM Friday. {Syndicated} November 1, 1971-September 11, 1981 – Various nights at 7:30-8:00 PM Eastern (Monday-Saturday) & 5:30-6:00 PM Eastern (Sunday) and for the last 2 seasons for Weekdays/Weeknights at various times which depending on market and Distributed by RHODES PRODUCTIONS-A Filmways Company. "THE HOLLYWOOD SQUARES (1966)" is A MERRILL HEATTER (hQ) BOB QUIGLEY PRODUCTION-A Filmways Company. Now This Show Owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television.

Morey Amsterdam

Morey Amsterdam

Himself (1967-1969)

Cliff Arquette

Cliff Arquette

Charley Weaver (1966-1974)

Kaye Ballard

Kaye Ballard

Herself (1968)



Herself (1975)

Wally Cox

Wally Cox

Himself (1967-1973)

John Davidson

John Davidson

Himself (1974)

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  • "THE Greatest Show for Merrill Heatter & Bob

    Merrill Heatter-Bob Quigley's Newest Entry. This is the Tic-Tac-Toe of 9 Stars to play for cash and prizes. 2 Contestants...1 Man sits on an 'X' and 1 Woman sits on an 'O'. Peter Marshall as "The Master"; of the Board giving out questions and the stars giving out answers to make this show unique. As the 2 Contestants play the best 2-out-of-3 Match to become the champion and face an challenger. There's An Secret Square of the 1st, 2nd or Tiegames and started at $1000 in cash or prizes and added to more when it's lost. The Winning Goal of All 5 Matches is worth $2500 (later $2000) Wins A Car.moreless
  • How do you watch the show?

    I was on Hollywood Squares in 1971. I want to view the shows to find the show I was on. How do I download and watch them?
  • One of the best.

    HollyWood Squares is one of the best game shows ever. Like tic tac toe. But instead of putting down x, and os you pick a celberty in one of the squares. They get a questions they have to answer it. Then you get to dissagree or agree. And there was a secret square which if you got it right wou would get the money. It was fun to watch.
  • Love this show a lot

    I loved this show better when Peter Marshall hosted it

    And there is nobody as I heard Rose Marie, one

    Of the original panelist say that the original host is the

    Original indeed. And you know what, she is indeed very right

    Peter just was the perfect straight man to the stars as

    This was both a game show and a talk show all rolled up into one!

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