What's My Line?

CBS (ended 1967)


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Show Summary

Welcome to the What's My Line? guide at TV.com! Show Type: Game Show with Panel. First Telecast: February 2, 1950. Last Telecast: September 3, 1967. Producers: Mark Goodson & Bill Todman. Schedule: Currently not being aired on GSN or any other station. Synopsis: What's My Line? was one of network television's longest running and most beloved prime time game shows with a broadcast run of seventeen and one-half years. The game consisted of four panelists trying to guess the occupation of a guest contestant. As the questioning rotated, a panel member asked questions and the guest would answer either "yes" or "no." A contestant received $5 for each "no" answer. Ten "no" answers ended the game in favor of the contestant. A mystery guest segment was also included in which the panelists were blindfolded. The mystery guests were paid $500 as an appearance fee whether they won or lost the game. This was in addition to the maximum $50 game winnings. Guest panelists were paid $750 as an appearance fee. The regular panelists were under contract and were paid "much more" stated Gil Fates in his 1978 What's My Line? book. From 1950-1967, John Daly hosted the "classic" CBS What's My Line?, to which this site is devoted. In September 1968, What's My Line? was revived as a syndicated daily show (M-F) which lasted until 1975. Thanks for visiting us! Enjoy your stay! And now... TIME FOR EVERYBODY'S FAVORITE GUESSING GAME!

Arlene Francis

Arlene Francis

Regular Panelist (1950-1967)

Steve Allen

Steve Allen

Regular Panelist (1953-1954)

Dick Stark

Dick Stark

Substitute Announcer

John Daly

John Daly

Moderator (1950-1967)

Johnny Olson

Johnny Olson

Announcer (1961-1967)

Fred Allen

Fred Allen

Regular Panelist (1955-1956)

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  • Was Hubert Humphrey ever on What's My Line?

    I have a photo that suggests Hubert Humphrey (either as Senator or Vice-President) was on What's My Line?---but I can't seem to find the episode in the index guide. Can anyone confirm if/when he was a guest?
  • Random Talent!

    Thinking under pressure, singing under pressure with never before heard songs... this is the best of the best acting and singing you can find on tv! Great piano playing! That lady is my hero!
  • A True Classic!

    Although I was born in 1956, I have fond memories of "What's My Line?" In the 1960's my mother would wake me up at 10:00 on Sunday night to watch "Candid Camera" and "What's My Line?" As a child my favorite segments were the Mystery Guest spots. Watching all those big stars gurgle and goo and falsetto and basso profundo their voices to avoid being detected were so funny to me. As an adult, I appreciate even more the wild humor as the panel would ask questions that were either unintentionally suggestive or legitimate, but going down the wrong path, like Steve Allen asking a man who made feedbags for horses if "a new father would have difficulty putting it on." My lifelong love of puns began with Bennett Cerf, and thank you for that, sir. This was one of the true greats of the genre. I still miss it. I don't think you could replicate it today. There just aren't folks like John Daly, Bennett Cerf, Arlene Francis or Dorothy Kilgallen around today, people who could be witty and intelligent off the top of their heads. These days even the best of the lot are vacuous and fluffy-headed compared to these "Fab Four."moreless
  • Simply the best game show ever.

    There’s no doubt about it; this long-running classic game show was the best ever. The game was deceptively simple; a guest came in and signed his or her name. The panel of four people then tried to ascertain the person’s job by asking yes or no questions. The panelist continued asking questions as long as the question receives a “yes” answer. If the job had not been guessed before the panel received 10 negative responses, the contestant won the grand prize of $50.

    The show was greatly helped by being anchored for most of its run by the same moderator, newsman John Charles Daly, and three of the four panelist positions: publisher Bennett Cerf, actress Arlene Francis, and newspaper columnist Dorothy Kilgallen. The fourth panelist chair was filled by several people over the first few years, including Steve Allen and Fred Allen, before settling into using revolving guest panelists. Because of their intelligence, experience, and obvious enjoyment of the game, the panel had amazing success with guessing a myriad variety of occupations.

    One enjoyable aspect of the game was the mystery guest. Every week, for one of the games, the panel would put on blindfolds and try to guess the identity of a famous celebrity. The celebrities were usually in the entertainment field, but also included such luminaries as Eleanor Roosevelt, Bishop Sheen, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Watching the mystery guest is a great way to see the changes in popular culture 40-50 years ago, as TV western stars and rock and roll singers start appearing as mystery guests.

    Naturally, with a show that started over 50 years ago, there are aspects that seem strange to our modern sensibilities. The moderator, Mr. Daly, invariably asked women guests if they were “Miss or Mrs.” The male panelists, especially Mr. Cerf, felt no reservations about remarking on a woman’s beauty or figure. The panel often had trouble guessing a woman’s occupation if it was not normally associated with “women’s work”. Black guests were rare, and most of them were the celebrity mystery guest. None of this seems to have been done with any malice though, and simply reflects the times.

    The show is an artifact of another era. The men panelists and moderator wore formal wear, and the women wore evening gowns. The panelists were intelligent and witty, and were polite to each other and to the guests. The overall feel is closer to the Algonquin Round Table than Jerry Springer.

    I don\'t know if such a show could survive today, much less thrive. But I certainly wish they would try.moreless
  • Bennett's Cinderella references

    Bennett's mention of "glass slippers" and calling John "Prince Charming" during the introduction referred to the live airing, earlier that evening, of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella", an event that attracted 107 million viewers. Starring Julie Andrews and Edie Adams, the show wasn't seen again until PBS aired it in December 2004. Commissioned by CBS in response to NBC's production of "Peter Pan" starring Mary Martin, "Cinderella" was re-made in 1965 starring Lesley Ann Warren and Celeste Holm. Andrews, Adams and Holm all appeared on WML.

    I attempted to add this to the "comments" section of the page but was stimied so have resorted to a review.moreless

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