What's My Line?

Season 5 Episode 17


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Dec 27, 1953 on CBS



  • Trivia

  • Quotes

    • Peter: (commenting on Steve's vocal pitch change from high to low) Your voice is changing.
      Steve: (in a deep, gravelly voice) There might be more than one of me.

    • Bennett: (using his free guess for the second contestant to make a Stopette/Poof! related joke) I think Mr. Pilshaw works on a newspaper. He's a "poofreader."

    • Great comeback by mystery guest Steve Allen:
      Dorothy: Have you ever been the hero of a love story?
      Steve: Not in a movie!

  • Notes

    • FLIP REPORT: John flipped the remaining cards for the second contestant at six down because time was running short. - agent_0042 (2008)

      (1) "WML?" SPONSOR WATCH: This is the third straight week in which Remington electric shavers sponsored "WML?" -- the longest stretch since first joining as alternating sponsor with Jules Montenier, Inc.'s Stopette brand.
      (2) "SOMETIMES YOU FEEL LIKE A NUT...": In introducing Arlene and putting in a plug for her show "Talent Patrol," Peter Lind Hayes humorously refers to the program as airing "on another nutwork." Arlene enjoyed his joke and repeated it to make sure the audience heard it.
      (3) Tonight's show was the first of five mystery guest appearances by then-regular panelist Steve Allen. Not only did he appear on "WML?" as a regular panelist, guest panelist and mystery guest over 16 of its 17.5 years on the air, he also went on to appear as a regular contestant on EPISODE #818 of June 19, 1966 (his line: selling motorcycles), as well as making a cameo appearance on EPISODE #444 of December 14, 1958. In that sense, all this was a sketchbook example of Mr. Allen's being the proverbial "jack-of-all-trades," as was evident in his other enterprises throughout his long career. As with his regular panelist's nameplate, Steverino's plaque as displayed on the panel moderator's desk for his mystery guest spot is set in Title Gothic Condensed No. 11. While his regular panelist nameplate reads "Mr. Allen," his mystery guest nameplate displayed his full name, "Steve Allen."
      (4) A PEEK INTO THE FUTURE: As with the whole of EPISODE #181 of November 15, 1953, for the fourth game with the Macy's complaint adjuster, John dispensed with the regular contestant's panel walk-by to save time. It would be another three years before this would become standard operating procedure on "WML?"
      (5) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: GSN carried on with its malevolently maddening "crunching" of the end credits when running this episode on May 18, 2008.
      (6) Following the May 18, 2008 airing of tonight's show, GSN repeated the June 28, 1965 edition of "I've Got a Secret," with host Steve Allen and the panel whom he had introduced on this occasion as "Ann Cullen's husband Bill," "Vinnie Marandino's wife Betsy," "Henry Morgan, who doesn't seem to belong to anyone," and "Arnold Grant's wife Bess Myerson" -- one of only two shows to date in the "Allen era" to have the particular panel order of Mr. Cullen, Miss Palmer, Mr. Morgan and Miss Myerson which was prevalent under prior host Garry Moore. The celebrity guest was another link to the "Moore era," onetime regular "IGAS" panelist (and Steverino's lovely wife) Jayne Meadows, making another rare appearance during the course of Mr. Allen's tenure as "IGAS" host for the remainder of its CBS run. The end credits look like they could have come from the otherwise "lost" September 14, 1964 episode on which Mr. Moore passed the baton to Mr. Allen, given that the 1962-1964 era typesetting and layout was used, rather than News Gothic with Bold which was the end credit typesetting throughout the "Allen era"; plus previous "IGAS" director Clarence Schimmel being credited rather than by-then current director Paul Alter, and Oscar Hobman credited as production supervisor. - W-B (2008)

    • RARE KILGALLEN MISTAKE: Dorothy, whose meticulous approach to game-playing is well-documented, made an unusual error, losing her place in the second game by citing a line of questioning from the first game. In his earlier questioning of the champagne salesman, Peter had asked if the contestant's product "had anything to do with a ladies' hairpiece." Over nine minutes later, while the following game with the ice bag maker was winding down, the panel was granted a conference, which led to this exchange:

      Bennett: "Something to do with hair?"
      Arlene: "Peter said something about hair."
      Peter: "No, I didn't say anything about hair."
      Dorothy: "You said 'did it have anything to do with a ladies' hairpiece.'"

      Dorothy's error was not caught. - obbor (2004)

    • 1) The panel has fun guessing the occupation of Alfred Laurence, the champagne salesman. (With so many New Year's Eve toasts to be made just four days after this show's original broadcast, how appropriate to have an occupation dealing with champagne!) Bennett elicits that the product might make a glamorous woman appear more appealing and glamorous, or under certain circumstances, might make her less glamorous. However, John takes exception to Mr. Laurence when Dorothy Kilgallen asks, "Is this anything that would either alter, improve, or reveal, or conceal a woman's figure?" and Mr. Laurence replies, "Under certain circumstances!"
      2) A second "seasonal" guest is the complaint adjuster for Macy's Department Store, who of course is very busy this December 27, 1953, just two days after Christmas. The panel guesses her occupation in record time, under two minutes. Of course, the panel is larger than normal, for by this time Steve has JOINED (not replaced) Peter Lind Hayes on the panel, so we have five panelists crammed into four chairs. Great fun!
      3) Everyone is in good form this evening, and there are too many funny lines to catalog them all. One stands out, however. After determining that the product of the second guest (ice bags) could be said to be "worn" on the head, Bennett calls a conference. Peter wonders aloud, "What about medicinal? Like a corn plaster?" Bennett replies, "You couldn't wear that on the head." Peter shoots back, "Well you could. It all depends on where you get corny!" ... Now THAT'S corny! - Lee McIntyre (2004)

      STEVE ALLEN: Steve Allen was born the day after Christmas, 1921 and died of an apparent heart attack the day before Halloween, 2000. He was 78. In his entertainment career, he was impresario, radio host, TV entertainer, composer, musician, businessman (owned a motorcycle shop), actor, singer, author and more. During a portion of his WML stint in 1953, Steve was also master of ceremonies of Arlene Francis' "Talent Patrol" program. Andy Williams once said, "Steve did so many things, he's the only man I know who's listed on every one of the Yellow Pages." While Steve's wit was at times nearly as off-the-wall as that of Ernie Kovacs or Soupy Sales, his contributions to the entertainment media seem to this observer to have been much broader, more long lasting, substantial, and - if you'll pardon the word - uplifting. Steve's last book was "Vulgarians at the Gate: Raising the Standards of Popular Culture," a provocative assessment of the tastelessness of popular culture. He completed the book only days before his death. It was published posthumously in 2001, received terrific reviews, and rose to #7 on the Los Angeles Times non-fiction Bestseller List. Steve married Jayne Meadows on July 31, 1954, almost two months before he left WML as a regular panelist. Someone once asked Steve how he and Jayne Meadows had stayed happily married for so many years when show business tries so hard to break people apart. He said, "It's not what I know about marriage. It's that I'm married to Jayne Meadows; and that simple fact makes all the difference in the world." - Lee McIntyre (2004)

      OBSERVATION ABOUT STEVE ALLEN: In another forum ("on another network"), someone asked whether forum members thought Steve was a comedic genius or a big bore. Many members opined that they thought Steve was quite talented but that his comedic talents were underutilized on WML. I'd suggest that to get an idea of Steve's quick wit and versatility, all one needs to do is watch him in action as the mystery guest tonight. - Lee McIntyre (2004)

    • REVIEW: This was a pretty fun episode. Bennett gave a particularly funny introduction when he said that this was the first time in four days that John didn't have some sort of award. As for the games themselves, the panel had a particularly fun evening. In fact, the first two contestants had very appropriate occupations, considering that four days later, America would be ringing in the New Year. Bennett nearly had the first contestant, but was given a "no" because of a technicality. He called him a champagne dealer instead of a salesman. This left the door wide open for Dorothy to make the correct guess. The next game provided the only hiccup of the night when the panel ran out of time while trying to guess the occupation of the second contestant. He was appropriate due to the fact that many people would be using his ice bags to try to ease their celebration hangovers. The mystery guest was the panel's compatriot, Steverino. He was greeted with wild applause when he stepped from behind the curtain. After he was identified, the panel didn't hide the fact that they were extremely surprised. Arlene actually screamed with glee! She had the honor of guessing her panel mate, who had both the panel and the audience in stitches by using several different voices to fool the panel. For the final game, the audience got a real treat as for the first time in the show's history, unless it was done on any of the "lost" episodes, five people, Dorothy, Steve, Arlene, Bennett as well as guest panelist Peter Lind Hayes, played the final game. Dorothy put the capper on the evening when she guessed that the final contestant worked in the complaint department of Macy's. This definitely was a wonderful way for the panel to say goodbye to 1953. - Sargebri (2004)

      BREADBOX WATCH!!! Though Steve Allen's famous breadbox question wasn't used in any of the games, Dorothy referred to it in the wild guesses before the second game, when she said that the guest's product probably was bigger than a breadbox. - Sargebri (2004)

      Interestingly enough, Steve wasn't the only member of the panel to appear as a mystery guest. Seven years later, on February 5, 1961, Dolly Mae Kilgallen herself appeared as a mystery guest. She had been off the show for a couple of weeks due to "illness" and wanted to surprise her panel mates. However, what many people didn't know until several years later was that Dorothy was actually in a clinic to try to combat her alcoholism. Also, on the final edition of WML on September 3, 1967, John Charles Patrick Croghan Daly himself would become a mystery guest. He finally got a chance to do something that he had always wanted to do, and that was to try to pull a fast one on the panel by appearing as a mystery guest. Of course, he was always on stand-by in case the scheduled mystery guest failed to appear. - Sargebri (2004)

      Besides Steve Allen and Dorothy Kilgallen, there was only one other regular CBS-era "WML?" panelist to appear as a mystery guest while still part of the panel: Fred Allen, on EPISODE #267 of July 17, 1955. The beloved radio humorist had been off the show a few weeks due to an operation for an appendectomy, and had recovered quicker than expected. This 1955 episode was also notable in that it was the only extant "WML?" episode to have five games, a frequent occurrence in the "lost" 1950-1951 period. Publisher/panelist Bennett Cerf didn't make any mystery guest appearances during the show's CBS run, but did appear as a mystery guest within the second week of the syndicated "WML?" in 1968. Only Arlene Francis never made any appearances as a mystery guest, either on CBS or in syndication. - W-B (2008)

    • Steve Allen is the first regular panelist to appear as a mystery guest. He signed in with a fake name, "Remington Poof!," which is a "joke" on the two current WML sponsors. After his mystery guest round, he joined the panel for the final game. He shared a chair with Peter. - Suzanne (2004)

      Tidbits: Bennett will be spending the next six days in sunny Florida. - Suzanne (2004)

      Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Peter Lind Hayes, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf. Steve Allen is a partial guest panelist for the final game only.

  • Allusions