What's My Line?

Season 5 Episode 4


Aired Sunday 10:30 PM Sep 27, 1953 on CBS



  • Trivia

  • Quotes

    • Bennett Cerf: And on my left is our incomparable news analyst and panel befuddler -- and no other love have we -- Mr. John Daly.

  • Notes

    • LAST WEEK'S PREVIEW PHOTO: The poor quality of the "preview photograph" shown at the end of EPISODE #173 makes it hard to identify the contestant, but due to a different facial structure, it does not appear to be Mr. Wishansky from tonight's episode. It is unlikely that the person in the preview photo appeared on the "Special Community Chest Episode" which was shown earlier in the day. In addition, on the May 5, 2008 GSN airing of tonight's episode, there was no "preview photograph" shown at the end of the program. It is possible that there was no photo shown in 1953, or possibly GSN cut the photo to allow more time for advertising. - cattaur (2008)

      FLIP REPORT: John flipped the remaining card for the first contestant at nine down because time was running short. In the final game, the panel ascertained the final contestant's line at only two down, but out of charity, John flipped three cards to make it five down. - agent_0042 (2008)

      (1) MYSTERY GUEST: Tonight was the first of two appearances by famed singer Lena Horne. Her next appearance, on EPISODE #404 of March 2, 1958, was also as a mystery guest. For her spot this evening, Miss Horne's nameplate, as seen on the panel moderator's desk, while set in Title Gothic Condensed No. 11, appears to be in a slightly larger size of type than John's own nameplate. One week and one day before her "WML?" appearance tonight, on September 19, 1953 (which was exactly one year prior to Steve Allen's last "WML?" episode as a regular panelist), Miss Horne was a guest on "Your Show of Shows" which ran on the proverbial "other network" (NBC).
      (2) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: As usual, GSN's May 5, 2008 airing of this episode bore excruciating witness to their ruining the viewing experience with their customary "crunching" of the end credits.
      (3) The May 5, 2008 airing of tonight's show by GSN was followed by an edition of "I've Got a Secret," hosted by Steve Allen, which was originally broadcast "live from New York" on March 29, 1965. After a week's respite, the full regular panel of Betsy Palmer, Bill Cullen, Bess Myerson and Henry Morgan was back in harness. The celebrity guest on this episode was David Wayne. When GSN most recently aired this show in 2008, the cable and satellite channel came right in at the point where announcer John Cannon started off with "Live from New York," suggesting that either a cigarette manufacturer was the opening sponsor, or the original opening moment of the kinescope recording was damaged, or both. - W-B (2008)

      REVIEW: After a dismal beginning, the panel, especially the distaff members, had a great night. They were totally stumped by the first contestant who was a mud bath attendant. Unfortunately, they concentrated too much on the product instead of asking if she performed a service that could be closely related to it. However, they did bounce back nicely in the next game as Dorothy correctly guessed that the second contestant was a judge. Next up was mystery guest Lena Horne, and Arlene guessed her after four "nos." Dorothy then did what was a rarity back then, when she figured out that the final contestant was a chicken plucker. So, after a slow start, the ladies of the panel stole the show. - Sargebri (2004)

      BREADBOX WATCH!!! Although the regular breadbox question wasn't asked, Steve did ask the mud bath attendant if the product was small enough to fit in his pocket. - Sargebri (2004)

      NO DICE: An interesting note about Ms. Horne is that there were plans, as early as 2004, to make a movie based on her life, with singer Janet Jackson portraying her. However, after the "Nipplegate" incident at Super Bowl XXXVIII, Ms. Horne refused to have Janet cast in the role due to the inappropriateness of the widely-reported half-time incident. - Sargebri (2004)

      SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: At the end of the show, John states that he has a "special announcement" to make. He announces that starting next week, Remington Electric Shavers will be the alternate weekly sponsor of "What's My Line?" along with the present sponsor Stopette. During the goodbyes, this leads Bennett to call John his "favorite little shaver." - Garrison Skunk (2004)

      FANCY SIGNATURE: Judge Madge Taggert had an interesting signature as she signed in. She first drew a long horizontal line which would cover the rest of her first name. She then made three small vertical lines to the extreme left, forming a somewhat square, but very formal looking "M." The "T" in her surname was made in a similar fashion. - Garrison Skunk (2004)

      COPYCAT: Steve Allen copied a Hal Block pun when he said that Judge Taggert had a show called "What's My Fine?" - Garrison Skunk (2004)

    • SPECIAL EARLY SHOW - LOST TO HISTORY - TWO SHOWS IN ONE DAY: On September 27, 1953, What's My Line? aired twice in one day with two different episodes! In addition to its regular 10:30 PM show on CBS, there was a different episode that aired earlier that day at 1:00 PM - on all the networks! The reason why is because President Dwight D. Eisenhower initiated 9/27/53 as the opening day of the National Community Chest Drive for 1953. To honor the charity campaign, a special edition of What's My Line? was played and broadcast that day with the regular panel, including Steve Allen. (Source: TV Guide, Vol. 1, No. 26, 9/25/53) - Jason Colflesh (2004)

      ALL THE NETWORKS: At the time of this special Community Chest edition, "all the networks" meant ABC, CBS, NBC and DuMont. For the full list of post-1952 lost episodes, see the notes to EPISODE #112 of July 20, 1952. - W-B (2008)

      GIL FATES' LOG BOOK: There is no detailed information about this special episode in the handwritten log book of Gil Fates. The show was not given a separate episode number by the producers. Gil Fates did not mention this show in his 1978 WML book. No kinescope of the special episode is known to exist. If one was ever made, it is evidently lost. The mystery guest and contestants are unfortunately unknown. No mention of this show was made by John Daly or any of the primetime panelists on the second show of the day. If the article had not been published in the 1953 TV Guide Magazine, even the knowledge of the existence of this show may have been lost to history. In Gil's logs, the only reference to this special episode is the following short comment at the bottom of the guest data notes for tonight's EPISODE #174:
      "Same day at 1-1:30 on CBS, NBC, ABC & DUMONT. We did a special United Fund program."
      During the mid-1950s, many local Community Chest charities were folded into and merged with the United Fund, which later became the United Way. - Suzanne (2004 & 2008)

      NOT LOST AFTER ALL! FOUND IN A HERETOFORE UNKNOWN COLLECTION: A 16mm kinescope of this special episode surfaced in June 2009 in an eBay auction. The show was neither in Goodson-Todman's (and, by succession, FremantleMedia's) archives, nor in GSN's, but was in a private collection. The layout of the panel desk was considerably different from the regular shows of the time, with the billboard reading "WHAT'S MY LINE?" on the top, and below that, a floral illustration and the slogan, presented in large and small capital letters in serif type, "Give the United Way." As a picture from the kinescope as shown on the eBay auction made clear, while Steve Allen was formally attired as always, Bennett Cerf wore a regular suit with straight necktie. The 1950-1952 nameplates for Dorothy Kilgallen and Arlene Francis, set in Franklin Gothic Extra Condensed, were once again in evidence. The special guest on this special show was Milton Berle, whose appearance preceded his first mystery guest shot on the regular episodes by nearly three years. - W-B (2009)

    • Tidbits: Arlene mentions that Bennett's daily column is syndicated by King Features. - Suzanne (2004)

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

  • Allusions