What's My Line?

Season 4 Episode 20


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Jan 18, 1953 on CBS



  • Trivia

  • Quotes

    • We hear the first "breadbox" reference during the questioning of the final contestant who sells manhole covers:

      Steve: (using the first version of the famous question "Is it bigger than a breadbox?" that would become forever associated with him and the program) It's a product, I take it then, that you would use outside of the home, huh? Don't know how that came to me all of a sudden. Is it a large product, if you want to accept as a norm, something the size of a breadbox, let's say?
      John: Yes, if a breadbox is your norm, it's a large product, yes.
      Arlene: Wanna show us your breadbox, Steve?

  • Notes

    • FLIP REPORT: John flipped all the cards for the final contestant at three down because time ran out. - agent_0042 (2008)

    • (1) THE LOOKS OF THINGS: For the second straight week, Mr. Cerf and Mr. Allen are attired in regular business suit and straight tie, while Mr. Daly, as is usual during this period, is semi-formally attired, in a style which in later years would come to be associated with long-time NBC News economics correspondent Irving R. Levine. Steve's blindfold is the same as that worn recently by Robert Q. Lewis. And for June Havoc's nameplate in her mystery guest spot, a different font, Headline Gothic, is used. This typeface is not the same as that which is commercially available today from digital typeface libraries, but more along the lines of such fonts as Railroad Gothic, Gothic No. 13 (aka Tourist Gothic per Monotype parlance), and the usual "WML?" nameplate font of Title Gothic Condensed No. 11. A page showing this particular Headline Gothic (from American Type Founders, aka ATF) is linked here, and here.
      (2) MYSTERY GUEST: This was the first of two appearances on the show by June Havoc. She will next appear on EPISODE #832 of September 25, 1966, as part of the mystery guest cast of the Broadway production of "Dinner at Eight" in which Arlene co-starred at the time. By coincidence, this was less than six months before her sister Gypsy Rose Lee's infamous guest panelist appearance (and "WML?" swan song) on EPISODE #854 of March 19, 1967. A month following Miss Havoc's appearance tonight, she will appear in a production of the 1951-1953 television series "Hollywood Opening Night" called "The Romantic Type" which aired on February 23, 1953. In that installment, she co-starred with Don Defore who would go on to play "George Baxter" in the 1961-1966 series "Hazel."
      (3) "WML?" CREW CREDITS AND CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: Not only did Steve Allen's famous "breadbox" question debut tonight (albeit in a different form than that which would be most famous on the show), but this is also the first extant "WML?" edition since EPISODE #5 of April 12, 1950 to list Gil Fates in the closing credits. Tonight he is credited as executive producer, a position he will hold for the rest of the show's CBS run. Mr. Fates' card comes before that for coordinator of production Bob Bach and program manager Frances Trocaine in the end credit sequence which was rushed for time. As is typical of GSN, though, its April 1, 2008 airing of this episode showed the end credits in their usual, unrelenting and unconscionable "crunched" manner.
      (4) GARRY MOORE "IGAS" COUNTDOWN WATCH - 9 SHOWS TO GO: GSN's April 1, 2008 airing of tonight's show was followed by an edition of "I've Got a Secret" which was first presented "live from New York" on April 20, 1964. Host Garry Moore introduced his panel this time out as "IGAS" co-creator turned song parodist Allan Sherman (who was filling in for Bill Cullen), Betsy Palmer, Henry Morgan and Bess Myerson. During the intros, Mr. Moore noted that Mr. Sherman "taught Bill and all of us" how to play the game 12 years prior. As with his upcoming "WML?" guest panelist appearance on EPISODE #712 of May 10, 1964, Allan Sherman is not wearing his trademark glasses. Ed Begley was the celebrity guest on this "IGAS" installment. - W-B (2008)

    • This was a very good outing for the panel, especially for one Dorothy Mae Kilgallen. Dorothy managed to correctly guess that the first contestant was a truant officer. Dorothy then complimented her by saying that she probably was the prettiest truant officer she ever saw. Dorothy also correctly guessed that the second contestant made rubber panties for babies. Prior to his game, Dorothy had "flirted" with him by asking to feel his muscles during his walk-by, something she often does which is always good for a laugh. However, Dorothy didn't have all the fun to herself. Bennett guessed that the mystery guest was June Havoc. Unfortunately, Bennett would get involved in a controversy with Miss Havoc's sister, Gypsy Rose Lee. Fourteen years after this episode, in March 1967, Gypsy was a guest panelist on WML. When she introduced Bennett, she took the opportunity to publicly chastise him for not publishing her book. This was old news, since her book had been published in 1957! Needless to say, Bennett was insulted and Miss Lee was never invited back on the show. Also, around the same time as the incident with Bennett, June and Arlene would co-star together in the 1966-1967 Broadway play "Dinner at Eight." As usual, the panel didn't figure out the occupation of the final contestant due to lack of time. The manhole cover salesman wound up winning by default. - Sargebri (2004)

    • John announces that WML won yet another award! This most recent honor came from Chicago's "TV Forecast" magazine. WML won the award for the best quiz show. In April 1953, this magazine was bought out by Walter Annenberg of Philadelphia. He also purchased local television guides in New York, Philadelphia and Washington. Once merged, they evolved into TV Guide Magazine. - Suzanne (2004)

      "Baby June" Havoc was unhappy over the content of her sister's musical memoir, "Gypsy," which became a monstrous hit on Broadway in 1959 and was made into a 1962 film. The estrangement between the two lasted over a decade and only ended when Gypsy told June she was dying of cancer and wanted to make amends. - IMDB Trivia - Suzanne (2004)

      First Breadbox Reference: This is the first episode where Steve Allen asks a question referencing the size of a breadbox. He asks, "It's a product, I take it then, that you would use outside of the home, huh? Don't know how that came to me all of a sudden. Is it a large product, if you want to accept as a norm, something the size of a breadbox, let's say?" His question will eventually evolve to "Is it larger than a breadbox?" or "Is it bigger than a breadbox?" and becomes very famous. It will be frequently asked on all the remaining years of WML by both Steve Allen and other regular panelists and guest panelists. Often, when others ask this question, they will preface it with, "Is it larger than Steve Allen's breadbox?" This phrase becomes part of the American vernacular and has been used by cartoonist Gary Larson and many others. - Suzanne (2004)

    • Tidbits: Dorothy will be attending President Eisenhower's upcoming inaugural. This kinescope has been scratched and shows damage during the first half of the show. Arlene wears a rhinestone tiara. - Suzanne (2004)

      Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Bennett Cerf, Arlene Francis, Steve Allen. Hal Block had the night off.

  • Allusions