What's My Line?

Season 4 Episode 47


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Jul 26, 1953 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
5 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Game 1: Jack Finden - "Hotel Bellboy" (salaried; he works at Philadelphia's landmark Bellevue-Stratford Hotel; from Philadelphia, PA; see notes below)

Game 2: Donald Steckler - "Sells Babies' Teething Rings" (salaried; from New York, NY)

Game 3: James A. Van Fleet (3/19/1892 - 9/23/1992) (as Mystery Guest) - "General U.S. Army"

Per Gil Fates' logs, there was not enough time for the next scheduled contestant, a male who was a "Policeman." - Suzanne (2008) . .moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

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    John Daly

    John Daly

    Moderator (1950-1967)

    Arlene Francis

    Arlene Francis

    Regular Panelist (1950-1967)

    Bennett Cerf

    Bennett Cerf

    Regular Panelist (1951-1967)

    Dorothy Kilgallen

    Dorothy Kilgallen

    Regular Panelist (1950-1965)

    Steve Allen

    Steve Allen

    Regular Panelist (1953-1954)

    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (0)

    • QUOTES (7)

      • Bennett: Is it the kind of service, Mr. Finden, that would make me a happier man?
        Mr. Finden: No.
        John: Make you a happier man?
        Bennett: Yeah.
        John: Whoa, let me have a small conference. (They do so.)
        Bennett: Doesn't take much to make me happy, Mr. Finden.
        John: We've had an executive committee meeting and Mr. Finden has decided to give you the benefit of any doubt you may have had and give you a "yes" on that, Mr. Cerf.
        Bennett: (thinking to himself) It would make me happy then...
        John: And we want to make you happy, Beans, you know that.

        (As of 2008, we don't know why John refers to Bennett as Beans, but John does this again on the following two episodes.)

      • Steve: (taking a wild guess about Mr. Finden who lives in Philadelphia, known for its Philly cream cheese) I think he makes cream cheese.

      • Arlene: And on my left, a gentleman whose twinkling brown eyes got quite a build-up in the New York News this morning - Mr. Bennett Cerf.
        Bennett: Thank you, Arlene. Sitting next to a girl like you, what normal man wouldn't have twinkling eyes?
        Arlene: (purringly) Oh, Mr. Cerf!
        Bennett: On my left, famous newscaster, panel moderator, and newly-elected Vice President of the American Broadcasting Company - Mr. John Charles "Throttlebottom" Daly!

        (This is a comic reference to a musical play character, Vice-President Alexander Throttlebottom, who appears in the 1931 Gershwin play Of Thee I Sing and in its 1933 sequel, Let 'Em Eat Cake.)

      • Arlene: Would you wear something other than the clothes you are wearing now in order to perform your services?
        Mr. Finden: Yes.
        Arlene: Would it be something that covers you?
        (John stands up in mock shock.)
        Arlene: I meant as opposed to a hat!

      • Dorothy: This costume you wear, is it gay and attractive?
        John: Gay and attractive?
        Dorothy: Or funny, or amusing?
        Mr. Finden: Attractive, but not gay.

      • Steve: Is this smaller than a birdbath?
        Mr. Steckler: Yes.
        Steve: Could a woman get this in her handbag?
        Mr. Steckler: Yes.
        Steve: Could she get it out again in a hurry?

      • Bennett: (regarding the teething rings) Is it something to make the baby safer? (The audience and panel laugh.)
        Arlene: Safer for whom, Bennett?
        Steve: (to the audience) Anyone with exploding babies, please leave the theatre at once!

    • NOTES (4)

      • (1) While certain aspects of the "WML?" set design on this episode and the previous week's episode would become fixtures in the final years of the show, such as the "WML?" logo over the sign-in board; flip cards with no sponsor product placement tie-in; and, although temporary for tonight, the lack of a sponsor billboard on the panel desk, there was one aspect of the set layout on tonight's show which was not to be repeated in the 1960's: the large "WHAT'S MY LINE?" sign in bold, glittering letters above the panelists.
        (2) JOHN CHARLES DALY, VICE-PRESIDENT: Regarding John's being named vice-president for news, special events and public affairs of ABC, in addition to his anchoring the evening newscast, it is only a slight exaggeration to say that in all his seven and a half years with the network, John Charles Daly was ABC News. While he and the network won Peabody Awards in 1956 for his coverage of the Presidential conventions, ABC ran a very poor third (way behind CBS and NBC) in the nightly news race throughout his run, and for many years afterwards. After Mr. Daly resigned from ABC in 1960, he was succeeded by James C. Hagerty, former White House press secretary under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Mr. Hagerty had made two appearances on "WML?," as a mystery guest on EPISODE #353 of March 10, 1957 and as a guest panelist on EPISODE #368 of June 23, 1957. It wasn't until after John left the network that ABC News began to assemble something resembling a staff of reporters, including future legends Peter Jennings and Ted Koppel, and it wasn't until maverick sports producer Roone Arledge was named president of ABC News in 1977, followed by the premiere of "World News Tonight" in 1978, that ABC finally began achieving parity with the other networks in ratings and news prestige. As for John's role as ABC's evening news anchor, he closed his newscasts with "Good night, and a good tomorrow," which he would use at the end of "WML?" EPISODE #463 of May 10, 1959 in place of his usual "WML?" sign-off, "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and thanks for being with us on 'What's My Line?'" The significance of his ABC News sign-off, and its possible influence as a potential basis for a legendary comedy sketch catch phrase, can be found in the notes to EPISODE #463.
        (3) "WML?" FONT WATCH: At the point General James Van Fleet signed in for his mystery guest spot, an overlay screen reading "GENERAL U.S. ARMY" was shown, set in the same typeface used for last-minute switches in mystery guests and contestants. The overlay text was larger than the television "title safety" standards, and not all of the "G" was visible on the screen. In deference to his rank, his nameplate at the moderator's desk -- set in the usual Title Gothic Condensed No. 11 font -- reads "GENERAL VAN FLEET."
        (4) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: As always, GSN's continued carefree and cavalier "crunching" of the end credits was a major distraction for the disgruntled viewing audience on the most recent screening of this episode on April 26, 2008.
        (5) Right after GSN's April 26, 2008 airing of tonight's show, the cable and satellite channel repeated the January 25, 1965 edition of "I've Got a Secret." After the previous week's "big switch" between "IGAS" and "To Tell the Truth," panel-wise, host Steve Allen welcomed back his regulars, Betsy Palmer, Bill Cullen, Bess Myerson and Henry Morgan. Peter Lawford was the celebrity guest. - W-B (2008)

      • The camera shot of the panel's desk seemed odd in the previous EPISODE #164. The shot framed the top of the desk in the bottom one-third of the screen, leaving the top two-thirds of the screen showing the plain curtain that is behind the panel's desk. In this episode, we now see why this odd shot was shown. A giant, somewhat gaudy-looking sign saying "WHAT'S MY LINE?" now hangs behind the panel in that top two-thirds area. Other changes include the previous episode's new sign saying "What's My Line?" which has replaced the Stopette sign above the sign-in chalkboard. The flip cards, which up to EPISODE #163 had featured outlines of Stopette bottles, are now dark colored cards with a white nondescript oval containing the numbers. The Stopette/Finesse sign is still on the front of the panel desk, though not shown much on this episode. It did appear briefly as the first contestant walked by the panel. One might think that Stopette is about to go "Poof!" as far as being a WML? sponsor, but as we know, this is not the case. - Garrison Skunk (2004)

        Bennett gets away with mentioning the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) by name, while Steve must resort to plugging Arlene's show "Talent Patrol" as "being on another network." - Garrison Skunk (2004)

        More on THE LOOK OF THINGS: Of course, absent any specific records, we can only speculate about the changes in the WML set regarding Stopette. As a broadcaster since the late 1950's, I'll toss in my observations: In radio and TV's "Golden Years," an entire episode might be sponsored by one advertiser. That is to say, one advertiser would purchase all the commercial time in the episode. If the advertiser paid an additional fee to the producer or network, the advertiser was said to have purchased "full sponsorship." The advertiser's logo would be plastered in every conceivable place. In the case of WML, the sponsor's logos are seen on the panelists' desk; above the sign-in board; and on John's flip cards. The advertiser might even be able to finagle a verbal mention or two such as, "Welcome to What's My Line?, presented by Stopette." These new marketing conventions were just being developed for television in the early fifties. My guess is that the venerable Dr. Jules Montenier was told he would have to pony up additional fees if he wanted to continue to have his full sponsorship perks, and he balked at the higher fee for a few weeks. Due to this, the producers may have said, "Okay then, you'll lose most of your on-camera mentions." For at least one episode, the wide-angle camera view of the panel was tilted up to eliminate the Stopette logo from the picture, even though the resulting composition was awful. It didn't take long for the set designer to balance the composition of the shot by putting the bold, glittery "WHAT'S MY LINE?" on the curtain behind the panelists. - Lee McIntyre (2004)

        The 1904 Bellevue-Stratford Hotel on Broad Street in Philly, where bellboy Jack Finden works, has an interesting history. It's most infamous for the July 1976 Legionnaire's Disease breakout which occurred there. The mystery disease killed 34 and sickened 221. For a short while after that, it closed. The hotel has since changed ownership and names many times. - Bill Savage (2004)

      • REVIEW: The panel had a so-so evening this particular episode. They were stumped by the first contestant who was an elderly gentleman. However, they probably wouldn't have guessed that he was a bellboy, due to his advanced years. They did have a little more success with the second contestant when Steve, with two questions to go, guessed that he was a teething ring salesman. The mystery guest was General James Van Fleet, who had just retired after his service in Korea. Bennett managed to successfully guess his identity. After the game, General Van Fleet promoted a television special which was being aired to raise funds for the American-Korean Foundation. The money raised from the program was to benefit the Korean people as they struggle to recover in the post-war period. - Sargebri (2004)

        BREADBOX WATCH!!! The breadbox question wasn't asked this night, but Steverino did ask a variation on the question when he asked the teething ring salesman if his product was smaller than a birdbath. This caused John to smile. - Sargebri (2004)

        GENERAL VAN FLEET: General Van Fleet promoted the $5 million American-Korean Foundation fund drive to raise money for the war-torn people of Korea. He said it was an emergency fund drive for desperately needed money. On Tuesday, July 28, 1953, a television special called "Give Them This Day" will be aired on CBS TV at 4:00 PM EST to raise funds for post-war Korea. The special will also be broadcast on the CBS Radio Network at 10:00 PM EST that same night. John stated that the President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, will make a plea for the five million in donations. Many other stars will also appear, and John named several of them: Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Danny Kaye, Betty Hutton, William Holden, Debbie Reynolds and Walter Pidgeon. In addition, General Van Fleet said the program will be shown on the screen in 14,000 motion picture theatres. John mentions that tonight is Armistice Night. On July 27, 1953, the Korean armistice was signed at Panmunjom. The war had lasted three years. General James A. Van Fleet (1892-1992) was a general in the United States Army. He was a commander who led major campaigns in WWII and the Korean War. The General retired from the Army on March 31, 1953, with the accolade from former President Harry Truman of being "The greatest general we have ever had. I sent him to Greece and he won the war. I sent him to Korea and he won the war." During his career, he earned more than twenty U.S. medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Silver Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters. He also was authorized to wear the Combat Infantryman's Badge. - Suzanne (2004)

      • THE LOOK OF THINGS: There are many cosmetic changes on this episode, as WML continues to upgrade its look and presentation. The most startling item is the huge glittery "WHAT'S MY LINE?" logo hung over and behind the panel's desk, all in capital letters. As the camera attempts to capture both this sparkly logo and the panel at the same time, the panel desk Stopette advertising gets cut off the bottom of the television screen. This might lead one to believe that WML is phasing out Stopette, but from a historical vantage point, we know that this is not the case. Stopette will continue to sponsor WML until about March 1956 when the corporation is sold to Helene Curtis, and then Helene Curtis sponsors WML until about November 1958. Another change on this program involves the flip cards. They now have a shaded border around the outside edges, as if gently spray-painted with black paint on the white cards. New as of the previous episode, the sign-in board now has a banner reading "What's My Line?" over the top, instead of the former Stopette advertising. In a few months, WML will also add Remington Shavers as a sponsor. To cap off the new upscale look, John, Steve and Bennett are all wearing tuxedos. - Suzanne (2004)

        Good Morning, What's My Line?! - During the Korean War, long before Adrian Cronauer's days of fame, kinescopes of "What's My Line?" were specially made and shipped overseas for our American men in the service. In addition, "audio only" portions of some of the WML television shows were rebroadcast on the military radio network for the servicemen. - Suzanne (2004)

        AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Service) is a service which was created in 1942 during WWII to bring entertainment to United States military men overseas. American radio shows, with all of the commercials edited out, were shipped on large transcription discs and played around the world. In 1954, due to the advent of television, AFRS changed its name to AFRTS (Armed Forces Radio and Television Service) as it provided both radio and TV shows to the troops. - Lucky Cowboy (2004)

        "Game Show Network Salutes the Armed Forces" - On May 26, 2001, Game Show Network (now GSN) aired a special 4-hour television marathon called "GSN Salutes the Armed Forces" which was hosted by Gary Burghoff and Jamie Farr, who were both stars of the 1972-1983 television series "M*A*S*H." Shown were military-themed episodes of: I've Got a Secret (B&W); To Tell the Truth (1991); Family Feud (Hosted by Ray Combs); What's My Line? (syndicated version from 1970); To Tell the Truth (B&W); Card Sharks (1989); I've Got a Secret (B&W); and Hollywood Showdown. - Suzanne (2004)

        Tidbits: Although she accidently calls it "Grimm Tales for Hip Kids," Dorothy again mentions Steve Allen's new record album on Brunswick Records, "Grimm Fairy Tales for Hip Kids" which contains classic fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, albeit updated with jive language. On the record, a narrator (Al "Jazzbo" Collins) reads Steve Allen's treatment of these tales while Allen plays jazz cocktail piano in the background. It is also announced that John Daly received vice-president status at ABC News. - Suzanne (2004)

        Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Steve Allen, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf.

    • ALLUSIONS (0)