What's My Line?

Season 5 Episode 18


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Jan 03, 1954 on CBS
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Game 1: Miss Sydell Shaw (Sydell Shaw, DDS)(b. 10/18/1929) - "Dentist" (salaried; Dr. Shaw specializes in root canal therapy; from the net, we learn that she is one of the first female endodontists in the United States; from New York)

Game 2: Art Gasior - "Sells Marilyn Monroe Calendars" (salaried; see notes below; from Chicago, IL)

Game 3: Robert F. Wagner, Jr. (4/20/1910 - 2/12/1991) (as Mystery Guest) "The New Mayor of New York City"

Game 4: Miss Gella Block - "Makes Matzoh Balls" (salaried; in spite of Steve Allen's witty "wild guess" comment of "I think Miss Block is here looking for Hal," she is no relation to the former 1950-1953 "WML?" panelist Hal Block; from New York, NY)

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  • This was a very witty and lively episode including one of the most unusual bits of coincidence in the history of What's My Line...or almost any other television program.

    This was a very special and unique episode for several reasons, including an extremely unusual coincidence revolving around one of the panelists and the night's mystery guest. Many years subsequent to its initial live airing, the widow of long-time panelist Bennett Cerf (who passed away in 1971) would marry tonight's mystery guest, the then recently elected New York City Mayor, Robert Wagner, Jr. She met Mayor Wagner several years following Bennett's death and they married in 1975. Mr. Wagner passed away in 1991. Phyliss Cerf Wagner, who was a cousin of actress Ginger Rogers, passed away at age 90 in November, 2006 due to complications from a fall in her home.moreless
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 (6)

    • Dorothy: (to the first contestant) Do you ever appear in an operating room?
      John: Small conference! Be back in about an hour.
      Steve: John's getting sicker every minute. (laughter from audience)
      Dorothy: They're plotting against me -- I can see it.

    • Announcer: And now, let's meet our award-winning What's My Line? panel. First, the distinguished lecturer, humorist and publisher at Random House, Mr. Bennett Cerf.
      Bennett: We all seem to have gotten mixed up in the shuffle here tonight! Well, it is my pleasure, for a chance, to introduce the lovely Miss Arlene Francis, who's said so many nice things about me, I have the chance to say nice things about her.
      Arlene: (to Bennett) Thank you. (to audience) And on my left is a gentleman who authored a new record called Dragnet Goes to Kindergarten that is being played madly by record fans everywhere - Mr. Steve... (she pauses as if not sure) Allen, is it?
      Steve: Thank you, Arlene. It just doesn't feel right to me some how. And on my left is the lovely lady of radio and television, whose column appears in four billion newspapers from coast to coast, Miss Dorothy Kilgallen.
      Dorothy: Thank you, Steve. And on my left, last, but most confusing, our charming, literate, amusing and mixing-up type moderator, John Daly.
      John: Well, as you can all see, we've shaken up the batting order tonight. We also trust we can shake up the panel.

    • Bennett: (during the panel walk-by of the first contestant, Sydell Shaw, a beautiful girl) I have Dorothy's place, so I have to look at your hands, and the label in your dress.
      John: Alright, Miss Shaw, will you come over here and sit next to me? I think we'll get Bennett back in his place by next week.

    • John: Until next week, this is John Daly saying good night, Bennett.
      Bennett: (to Arlene) I'm glad to know that the right side of your profile is just as pretty as the left. Good night, Arlene.

    • Steve Allen: (using his free guess at the last contestant's line to refer to former panelist Hal Block) I think Miss Block is here looking for Hal.

    • Steve Allen: Have you been elected to office within the last ten years?
      Mayor Wagner: Yes.
      Steve: Have you been elected to office within the past five years?
      Wagner: Yes.
      Steve: (after pausing to digest this revelation) You've been doing all right!
      (laughter from audience)
      Steve: (continuing this line of questioning) Have you been elected to office within the past two years?
      Wagner: Yes.
      Arlene: (laughingly interjecting) Are you smaller than a breadbox?
      (uproarious laughter, applause)

  • NOTES (4)

    • FLIP REPORT: John flipped the remaining cards for the second contestant at five down because time was running short. He flipped them for mystery challenger Mayor Robert F. Wagner at two down after Mr. Wagner requested that his winnings be donated to the March of Dimes. Unknown to the public, all mystery guest challengers received a $500 appearance fee. However, the amount of Mayor Wagner's actual donation to the March of Dimes is unknown. Finally, John flipped the cards at three down for the final contestant because time was again running short. - agent_0042 (2008)

      (1) "WML?" SPONSOR WATCH: After a three-week stretch where Remington electric shavers sponsored the show, Stopette/Finesse's billboard has returned to the panel desk.
      (2) BACK TO THE PAST: Tonight's reversal of the panel order hearkened back to EPISODE #3 of March 2, 1950, the first show on which Arlene and Dorothy appeared together. On that earlier show, Miss Kilgallen introduced Mr. Daly, as well. This is the third time in "WML?'s" history that she has done so, among the still-extant kinescopes.
      (3) MYSTERY GUEST: Robert F. Wagner was the second Mayor of the City of New York to appear on "WML?"; William O'Dwyer had appeared as a mystery guest on EPISODE #13 of August 2, 1950, prior to resigning in the wake of a corruption scandal. Wagner's successor, John V. Lindsay, appeared twice on "WML?," in 1964 and 1965 -- but while Congressman of the "Silk Stocking" district, and as a guest panelist; Lindsay never appeared on the show while Mayor, either as a guest panelist or mystery guest, but his wife, Mary Lindsay, was a guest panelist on EPISODE #806 of March 6, 1966, two months into her run as the city's First Lady. The only New York City Mayor never to appear on "WML?" in its 17.5-year CBS run was Mr. Wagner's predecessor, Vincent R. Impelliterri (1900-1987), who served in that position from September 1, 1950 to December 31, 1953. Nor did Abraham D. Beame, who served as Mayor within the final two years (1974-1975) of the syndicated run of "WML?" For this, Mr. Wagner's only appearance on the show, his nameplate on the panel moderator's desk -- set in a different sans-serif font than the panelists' or Mr. Daly's, and somewhat resembling Headline Gothic -- reads "ROBERT WAGNER," not even mentioning his new title.
      (4) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: As usual, GSN couldn't help itself in "crunching" the screen when airing this episode on May 19, 2008, to the ever-loving dissatisfaction, disgust and dismay of the viewing audience.
      (5) Following the May 19, 2008 airing of tonight's show by GSN, the cable and satellite channel ran the July 5, 1965 edition of "I've Got a Secret," with host Steve Allen and panelists Betsy Palmer, Bill Cullen, Bess Myerson and Henry Morgan. The second-most prolific male guest panelist in "WML?'s" history, Tony Randall, was the celebrity guest. - W-B (2008)

    • HAL BLOCK REMEMBERED! Just under a year after being fired by Goodson-Todman Productions, former regular panelist Hal Block is referenced in this episode. Steve Allen, in his free guess about the fourth contestant, Miss Gella Block said, "I think Miss Block is here looking for Hal." The reaction to his comment was interesting. The audience and one or both of the female panelists seemed to give a burst of surprised/nervous laughter. There was no indication of how - or if - Bennett reacted to this Hal Block mention. - Garrison Skunk (2005)

      NO SKIP: After taking a break from airing the regular order of episodes from December 28, 2004 to January 01, 2005 in order to show a week of all five Bobby Darin episodes, GSN picked up right where they left off, and this episode was shown on January 02, 2005. - Garrison Skunk (2005)

      1954 MARILYN MONROE CALENDAR: Although not mentioned, the guest in game two, Art Gasior, would most likely have been selling Marilyn Monroe's very famous nude calendar which first came out in 1952 and was still being published in at least 1955. The 1954 "Miss Golden Dreams" calendar featured one photo of Marilyn, sitting up, legs bent at the knees, face partially obscured by one upstretched arm, with a red velvet draped background. The photo was attached to the top of an oblong backing. The calendar was positioned below the photograph. The calendar consisted of one separate page for each month, stapled together and then affixed to the bottom part of the calendar. Net research tells me that the actual picture was taken in 1949 by photographer Tom Kelley, at a time when Monroe was out of work and in need of money. She earned $50 for the photograph, but never made any profit from the sale of the calendars, since she had signed away her rights. The nude model from the photo shoot was at first billed as "anonymous." In 1952, a blackmailer threatened to reveal her identity as Marilyn Monroe, but she thwarted the scheme by announcing the fact herself. The media attention actually increased her popularity. Hugh Hefner bought the rights to use the photo for the first issue of his new men's magazine, Playboy. The calendar was wildly popular for several years and today is considered a collector's item. - Suzanne (2005)

      It should be noted that Robert F. Wagner was elected mayor with an unusual - but quite New York - slogan! During the previous few years, service on the city-run subway system had started to deteriorate. In addition, there had been TWO fare raises in a period of five years. The first increase was from the hallowed nickel to a dime, and the second increase saw the fare jump from 10 cents to 15 cents. With the advent of a fifteen cent fare, New Yorkers now had to start buying tokens to use the subway, instead of using nickels or dimes they might have on hand. Mr. Wagner, when running for office, simply used a slogan that mirrored the straphangers' anguish: "New York Deserves MORE Than a Token Mayor." - exapno99 (2005)

      MATZO BALL: For those, like me, who've never seen matzo, much less a matzo ball, a little background may be in order. "Matzo" (also spelled "matzoh," as in tonight's broadcast, matza or matzah) is a Yiddish term for the unleavened bread eaten especially at the Passover. Historically, when the Jews were leaving Egypt, there was no time for the bread to rise, and the resulting food was matzo. For Passover, the ingredients for matzo are flour and water. Matzo can be ground from coarse to a fine meal. Matzoh balls, then, are bread-like balls made from ground matzo meal. They're often made with eggs and meat, such as chicken, or vegetables. - Lee McIntyre (2005)

    • REVIEW: Once again, the panel batted .500 for the night. Arlene correctly guessed that the first contestant was a dentist, after narrowing down her area of expertise to the area of the head. Nobody could believe that this pretty young woman was a dentist! The panel wasn't so lucky when it came to the second contestant, who sold Marilyn Monroe calendars. They were all over the map with him and they ran out of time, so he won by default. It was ironic that Bennett would be the first to question Robert F. Wagner, especially since Mayor Wagner would later marry Bennett's widow Phyllis. However, it was Steve who identified him. The panel also ran out of time with the matzoh ball maker and she won the full prize by default. - Sargebri (2005)

      POLIO: After the game, Mayor Wagner promoted the annual March of Dimes drive that was kicking off that week. He also mentioned the fact that Steverino was the honorary chairman of the event. Even though he only earned $10, John flipped over the rest of the cards and gave him the full prize. John also mentioned the fact that they were getting close to finding a way to deal with the main purpose of the charity, polio. A year after this episode's 1954 airing, Dr. Jonas Salk would come up with the polio vaccine, and within a few years, the disease would no longer pose the major threat to healthy living that it once did. - Sargebri (2005)

      BREADBOX WATCH!!! For a change, Dorothy used Steve's trademark breadbox question as she asked in the second game if the contestant's product was smaller than a breadbox. Dolly Mae also asked if it were bigger than a pill box. In addition, during the mystery guest round, Arlene jokingly asked Mayor Wagner, "Are you smaller than a breadbox?" Any way you slice it, there were several breadbox references in this episode. - Sargebri (2005)

    • After Bennett Cerf died in 1971, his widow Phyllis Cerf later married Robert F. Wagner, who appeared on this episode. Phyllis and Robert Wagner were together for fifteen years, until Mr. Wagner died in 1991. - Suzanne (2005)

      Mayor-elect Robert F. Wagner, Jr. promoted the upcoming March of Dimes campaign which is scheduled to start tomorrow. - Suzanne (2005)

      Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. info: Robert Ferdinand Wagner, Jr. (1910-1991) of New York, N.Y., Democrat. Member of New York state assembly, 1937-1941; served in the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II; delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1948 (alternate), 1952, 1960, 1972 (alternate); mayor of New York, N.Y., 1954-1965; candidate for Democratic nomination for Vice President, 1956; candidate for U.S. Senator from New York, 1956; delegate to New York state constitutional convention, 1967; U.S. Ambassador to Spain, 1968-1969. Catholic. Died of heart failure in New York, N.Y., February 12, 1991. Interment at Calvary Cemetery, Queens, N.Y. - Suzanne (2005)

      Tidbits: The panel is reversed this evening. Dorothy again gets the honors of introducing John. - Suzanne (2005)

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


    • Steve Allen: "Do you know where Judge Crater is?"

      During Game 3, the panel has determined that the mystery guest is involved in politics, but not national politics, and has been elected to office within the past two years. Steve Allen asks the gag question, "Do you know where Judge Crater is?"

      On August 6, 1930, New York Supreme Court Justice Joseph Crater made plans to attend the Broadway play "Dancing Partner" - or so he told friends. Instead, he went to his office and removed various papers from his files, then cashed two large checks. Later that day, he stepped into a taxi and vanished without a trace. His disappearance created a public sensation. Some speculated that Crater was involved in illegal activities or had been murdered by organized crime, but no firm evidence was ever found. Nearly a decade later, he was finally declared legally dead. Crater never reappeared and his name became a pop culture synonym for mysterious disappearances.

      Incidentally, Judge Crater was the inspiration for the 1949 film "The Judge Steps Out," released several years before this WML episode was broadcast. - Lee McIntyre (2005)

    • Robert F. Wagner: "The March of Dimes ... drive starts tomorrow."

      The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis was founded by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1938 to promote the finding of a cure for polio, a disease which had stricken FDR in 1921. That same year, 1938, comedian Eddie Cantor, who will appear with daughter Marilyn on WML in June 1957, coined the phrase "March of Dimes," playing off the popular newsreel feature "The March of Time." The campaign was an appeal to radio listeners (and school children) all over the country to send their dimes directly to the White House. For that reason, Roosevelt is on the U.S. dime. The campaign proved to be hugely successful.

      The foundation's efforts to find a cure for polio were successful, and the March of Dimes has expanded its vision to include improving the health of babies generally. In 2003, the March of Dimes launched a five-year, $75 million campaign to prevent premature birth and raise awareness of its serious consequences. - Lee McIntyre (2005)

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