(1) LET THE "STEVE ALLEN ERA" OF "WML?" BEGIN!!! With tonight's show, the particular order of the eternal "classic" panel of Dorothy Kilgallen, Steve Allen, Arlene Francis and Bennett Cerf has firmly taken shape. Counting Steve's frequent post-1956 guest panelist appearances as well as his 18-month stint as a regular panelist as commencing this evening, this lineup will hold together on and off up until EPISODE #788 of October 31, 1965, which was only one week prior to Miss Kilgallen's death. On a few of the later shows after Mr. Allen returned to the show for "old home week" in the official position of "prodigal son," the ladies' seating positions were reversed, with Arlene sitting on the far end of the panel desk and Dorothy in-between Steverino and Bennett.
(2) THE BEGINNING OF THE "AWARD-WINNING" ERA (AMONG OTHER FIRSTS): To lead off the first official post-Hal Block "WML?" episode, announcer Lee Vines begins his introduction of the panel with the following words: "And now, let's meet our award-winning 'What's My Line?' panel of well-known personalities whose lines you already know." While the "...of well-known personalities..." part of this intro will soon fall by the wayside, the "award-winning" part, albeit with a few minor tweaks in the wording along the way, will be incorporated into the opening for the next eight and a half years, up to EPISODE #582 of September 24, 1961. As for Bennett, he seemed to suggest he was introducing the "news commentator and moderator" for the very first time; this was far from the case, as in fact he had introduced John in his very first "WML?" appearance on EPISODE #20 of October 15, 1950. For the first time since just before Mr. Block's final half-dozen shows, the nameplates for the now-regular panelists and Mr. Daly are all set in the same Title Gothic Condensed No. 11 font which will become synonymous with "WML?" for the remainder of its days on CBS.
(3) MYSTERY GUEST - PART I: At the time of his appearance tonight, Jackie Gleason had been with CBS for less than six months. The first incarnation of his long-running variety series, "The Jackie Gleason Show," debuted on CBS on September 20, 1952. While in this first CBS season he did not crack the Nielsen Top 25, by the end of this season, Mr. Gleason was still enough of a threat to force NBC to move its "All-Star Revue" to another time slot. "The Jackie Gleason Show" was also notable in that it was one of the first television shows, if not the very first, to have partial sponsorship from different companies -- a model which, within a few decades, would be adopted throughout the industry. Tonight's show was to be his only extant "WML?" appearance; unfortunately, his next mystery guest spot, on EPISODE #277 of September 25, 1955, in which he appeared in his "Ralph Kramden" bus driver's uniform to promote the debut of what would come to be called the "Classic 39" version of "The Honeymooners," is today lost to history. The Title Gothic Condensed No. 11 font is used to print "The Great One's" "Jackie Gleason" nameplate for his mystery guest spot.
(4) MYSTERY GUEST - PART II: There was a little irony to Arlene's initial incorrect identification of the mystery guest as Jimmy Gleason -- as both he and Jackie, at different times, were under contract to Warner Bros. Pictures. Interestingly, James Gleason was a guest on the February 9, 1951 edition of DuMont's "Cavalcade of Stars" during Jackie's run as host. However, the veteran character actor, who was of no relation to the larger-than-life comedian, never made any appearances of any kind on "WML?"
(5) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: In the manner of a 2008 ad campaign for an anti-inflammatory drug, GSN continued its scandalous and shameful practice of shrinking -- otherwise known in the cable and satellite channel's case, as "crunching" -- the end credits at the time of its April 8, 2008 airing of this episode.
(6) GARRY MOORE "IGAS" COUNTDOWN WATCH - 2 MORE SHOWS TO GO: Following the April 8, 2008 airing of tonight's show, GSN ran an edition of "I've Got a Secret," hosted by Garry Moore, which first originated "live from New York" on June 8, 1964 and featured the usual panel of Bill Cullen, Betsy Palmer, Henry Morgan and Bess Myerson. Opera singer Robert Merrill was the celebrity guest. - W-B (2008)