What's My Line?

Season 5 Episode 22


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Jan 31, 1954 on CBS



  • Trivia

    • Although the audience shot of Bella Darvi was most certainly planned in advance (it would require a good 10 seconds to find and focus on an audience member), the lighting technician failed to bring up the house spotlight for the first four seconds of the five second shot. - Lee McIntyre (2005)

    • As John Daly is introducing the mystery guest, we catch a glimpse of blindfolded Steve Allen, unaware that he is on camera. He is shown laboriously adjusting his shirt and coat sleeves, to assure that the proper 3/4 inch of shirt sleeve shows beyond his coat sleeve. - Lee McIntyre (2005)

  • Quotes

    • Dorothy: Did you ever play bad men?
      Richard Widmark: Yes, Ma'am.
      Steve: Who won?

    • Victor Borge: (to Richard Widmark) Do you have two legs?
      John: (laughing) Yes, Mr. Borge.
      (An individual audience member cackles.)
      Victor Borge: Thank you.

    • Dorothy: Well, is it in the gorilla family?
      Ammie E. (Shorty) Greer: Yes.
      Dorothy: Then Mrs. Greer has something to do with gorillas. Does she raise or train them?
      John: I'm afraid that's not it. Mr. Allen?
      Steve: She's a (long pause while thinking) nice girl.
      John: She doesn't raise or train them.
      Steve: She sells them.
      John: 6 down 4 to go, Miss Francis.
      Arlene: She buys them.
      John: 7 down 3 to go, Mr. Borge.
      Victor Borge: She eats them!
      (big laughter from audience)
      John: I give up! I'm flipping them all over!

    • Victor Borge: You said four legs.
      John: Yes.
      Victor Borge: A monkey has two legs. Two legs and two arms.
      John: For the purposes of this program, we assume that each of these species has four legs.
      Victor Borge: Oh. (now to the panel) Isn't that fascinating?

    • Arlene: Would this animal be a part of the monkey, orangutan or gorilla family?
      Dorothy: What a family!

    • Steve: (thinking out loud) A four-footed creature that is rarely found in Texas. Very clever of me to figure that out. Is it an animal that would be more at home in another part of the world?
      Ammie E. (Shorty) Greer: Yes.
      Steve: Uh, the tropical section of the world?
      Ammie E. (Shorty) Greer: Yes.
      (An audience member sneezes.)
      Steve: (without missing a beat) Gesundheit.

    • Arlene: (to Victor Borge) You can get back on your chair now.
      Victor Borge: (looking at his chair) Nope. It's still wet. Too much water.

    • Dorothy: I think she's a steer roper.
      Steve: I think she's a rope steerer, and I think we've done these jokes before.

    • John: (standing behind Ammie E. (Shorty) Greer, at least 1 and 1/2 heads taller than she, and looking down) You're not so short! You're not short at all!

    • Arlene: You say, Mr. May, all of us could come in contact with this, but, would we perhaps not be likely to come in contact with it?
      John: (using a somewhat W.C. Fields-ian accent) I can't see a single soul on that panel not likely to come in contact with this.

    • Steve: (thinking out loud) What could you wear around your neck that would be associated with punishment?
      Arlene: A noose?

    • Victor Borge: (regarding the first contestant's product) Is it something I could get in contact with? As well as Steve Allen?
      John: Yes.
      Steve: I'll split it with you, Victor.

    • Steve: (taking a free guess at the line of the first contestant, while giving a free plug to Old Crow Kentucky bourbon whisky) I think he's in charge of the bird seed at the Old Crow factory here in town.

  • Notes

    • FLIP REPORT: John flipped the remaining cards for the first contestant at eight down because time was running short. The guest specified that he wished for his winnings to be donated to the March of Dimes. John flipped the rest of the cards for the second contestant at seven down because time was again running short. The panel had ascertained that she was associated with gorillas and had only stumbled upon her exact line of "hunts." - agent_0042 (2008)

      (1) Because most of EPISODE #191 (which was presumably sponsored by Remington electric shavers) is lost to history except for the mystery guest segment of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, GSN went directly from the preceding week's EPISODE #190 to tonight's show, which was sponsored by Stopette.
      (2) This episode, Victor Borge's second overall appearance on "WML?," was also the first of seven times he appeared as a guest panelist. The pianist/humorist, who at the time was starring in the one-man show "Comedy in Music" at the Golden Theatre, made his final appearance on the panel on EPISODE #742 of December 13, 1964. This was out of a total of 12 appearances, the last of which was on EPISODE #750 of February 7, 1965, which was also notable in that it marked the last time the then-current opening titles with an animated juggler would be used.
      (3) UNOFFICIAL RICHARD WIDMARK TRIBUTE: GSN's May 22, 2008 airing of this evening's episode could also be seen as a de facto tribute to tonight's mystery guest, Richard Widmark, who died on March 24, 2008 at age 93.
      (4) RICHARD WIDMARK - PART II: For his sole "WML?" appearance tonight, Richard Widmark's nameplate on the panel moderator's desk is set in Title Gothic Condensed No. 11, which was the regular typeface for such plaques. Besides "Hell and High Water," Mr. Widmark's other movies in 1954 included "Garden of Evil" and "Broken Lance." He was married twice, first to writer Jean Hazlewood from 1942 until her death in 1997 (their marriage produced one daughter, Anne Heath Widmark, who was married to legendary baseball pitcher Sandy Koufax from 1969 until their divorce in 1982), and then to Susan Blanchard (former wife of the late Henry Fonda) from 1999 until his death in 2008. As a side note, while Mr. Widmark's "Hell and High Water" co-star Bella Darvi was in the audience this evening, she otherwise never made any other appearances on "WML?," either as a panelist or mystery guest.
      (5) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: The May 22, 2008 airing of this episode by GSN was, as usual, plagued by the cable and satellite channel's unfortunately bad habit of "crunching" the end credits.
      (6) GSN's May 22, 2008 airing of tonight's show was followed by the September 27, 1965 edition of "I've Got a Secret," hosted by Steve Allen. The panel on this occasion was assembled as Bess Myerson, Bill Cullen, Jayne Meadows (in only her third appearance on the "IGAS" panel since her husband assumed the hosting duties; she was subbing for Betsy Palmer) and Henry Morgan. The celebrity guest was Fred Gwynne, then starting his second (and, as it turned out, final) season as "Herman Munster" on the CBS sitcom "The Munsters." - W-B (2008)

      Also seen on this September 27, 1965 episode of "I've Got a Secret" was Ray Newby of Stockton, CA. His secret was that he had been the first radio disk jockey in 1909. The history of Ray's broadcasting achievements can be found on the web page below. - Suzanne (2008)

      The History of KQW (San Jose) and KCBS (San Francisco)
      By John F. Schneider


    • Steve Allen calls the first contestant, Julius L. May, a joke name when he calls him "Julius LaRosa May." Julius LaRosa will soon be mystery guest on EPISODE #194. - Suzanne (2005)

      REVIEW: The show was pretty much normal for all of... five minutes! Then, the fun began as Victor Borge made his first appearance on the panel and definitely stole the show with his zany antics. As for the games themselves, the panel probably would want to forget this night, except for the mystery guest round. They were totally stumped by the traffic ticket printer. Unfortunately, they went way off-track when they thought he made something to wear, and that's what wound up costing them. They did come close with the lady gorilla hunter. Arlene was able to figure out that she had something to do with primates, and then Dorothy further narrowed the guest's line down to gorillas. Unfortunately, they never figured out that she hunted them. They couldn't be blamed, though, because this "height challenged" woman looked absolutely nothing like you'd expect a gorilla hunter to look like. For the next game, Dorothy saved face for the panel when she figured out that the mystery guest was Richard Widmark. This may have been a night the panel would want to forget, game-wise, but it still wound up being a fun night. - Sargebri (2005)

      When Dorothy asked Mr. Widmark about a distinguishing characteristic, she was referring to the laugh he used when he played a maniacal thug named Tommy Udo in the 1947 film "Kiss of Death." Not only was it a big hit with children, but several years later, Frank Gorshin would use that same style of laugh in his portrayal of "The Riddler" in the 1966-1968 camp television classic "Batman." Ironically, the WML episode of the previous week also featured another person who would go on to play a "Bat-villian." This was guest panelist Cesar Romero, sitting in for Bennett, who would later play "The Joker." In addition, the guest panelist in the following episode, David Wayne, would also later play another "Bat-villian," the "Mad Hatter." - Sargebri (2005)

      BREADBOX WATCH!!! Steve used his trademark breadbox question in the second game when questioning the gorilla hunter. - Sargebri (2005)

    • ABOUT VICTOR BORGE: Børge Rosenbaum was born in 1909 in Copenhagen, Denmark. During the 1930's he became one of Denmark's most popular artists. He started his career as a classical pianist, but his talent for making the audience laugh was soon obvious, and he started developing his unique blend of humor and music. He had his stage debut in 1933 and his film debut in 1937. He emigrated to America in 1940, and his first American performance was on Bing Crosby's radio show in 1941.

      Audiences loved Borge's carefully cultivated befuddled persona, which is evident when he is asked in this week's WML episode to begin the questioning in the second round.

      On his radio and TV "concerts" - the word is chosen advisedly - he would solemnly begin a serious piano composition, then abruptly stop after a moment or two to deliver an apparently off-the-cuff wisecrack, then start the performance over again. He could do this for 10 or 15 minutes and never finish the musical selection. The more often he interrupted himself, the funnier it became.

      An example of his musical wisdom: "The cello stands about as tall as a 10-year-old boy (providing he's no taller than the cello)."

      Note: To hear the sound files linked in the following two paragraphs, you'll need RealPlayer, available from http://www.real.com/
      Look for the "Get RealPlayer Free" button.

      Borge created a comedy routine called "Phonetic Punctuation." Hear his explanation here:

      Phonetic Punctuation

      What this link does not provide is an example of how the punctuation sounds in action. Simply imagine reading aloud, and inserting all the punctuation using the system Borge explains. It's hilarious.

      We're treated to a 15-minute "Happy Birthday" concert here:

      Happy Birthday

      This will be funniest to those with some exposure to classical music, but there's enough humor for all of us. ("It's a little known fact that Bach had 20-30 children. [Pause] I guess that goes for Mrs. Bach, too." ... "The management of this theater has asked me to announce that there will be no dancing during this particular number [pause] unless you absolutely have to.")

      Borge also invented "inflationary language," you know, the one where numbers hidden in the language (like wonderful) become inflated (twoderful). For example, he might ask, "Anytwo five elevennis?" instead of "Anyone for tennis?"

      Victor Borge was pronounced "the funniest man in the world" by the New York Times - and millions of people all over the world agreed. Borge died at home in his sleep, December 23, 2000. Learn more about "The Great Dane" and the "Clown Prince of Denmark" at the link below. - Lee McIntyre (2005)



      STEVE ALLEN enjoys toying with the fact that someone is not permitting Dorothy Kilgallen to name either his show or his network during her weekly introductions. Since we really don't know who exactly would be dictating what he could or couldn't say, we can only guess. It might have been the CBS standards and compliance officer, known as the network censor. They are entirely separate from the production company, and they might not have allowed the cross-promotion. It is unknown whether Goodson-Todman Productions would have cared about what he said. At any rate, here are the funny introductions that take place this week:
      Dorothy: "And on my left, the brilliant young humorist who conducts his own very funny television show nightly, Monday through Friday, on another network, Mr. Steve Allen."
      Steve: "Thank you, Dorothy," (applause) "thank you, and thanks to the other network."
      Arlene Francis giggles off-camera, which causes Steve to stumble in his introduction of her and laugh back at her. - Lee McIntyre (2005)

    • BENNETT CERF WAS NEVER LIKE THIS! Victor Borge, after a somewhat slow start, quickly settled in with his particular bag of tricks and gags. He walked out "Groucho Marx style" to greet Ammie E. (Shorty) Greer. Then, upon being asked to start the questioning for the second round, he feigned nervousness: First, by imitating his heart beating wildly by sticking his hand under his jacket, then by making nervous small talk with Arlene, and finally by taking a drink of water, comically spilling it on himself. Steve Allen offers him his water, Borge takes it, starts to sit back down on the wet chair, jerks back up, then moves the chair to the side while leaning forward on the desk. Then, without missing a beat, he asks, "Is a product involved?" as if nothing happened. To top off the evening, he refused to remove his blindfold after the mystery guest game because he didn't want to look at "movie bad guy" Richard Widmark. - Garrison Skunk (2005)

      AN UNKIND CUT: Due to an edit, or more likely a poorly-fixed break in the 1954 tape, Steve Allen's goodbye jumps and we miss some of his dialogue. He says only "Good night boys and good night" before the film then jumps to Arlene who laughingly says, "I'm here!" Unfortunately, whatever he said to elicit that response from her is lost to history, and the sequence becomes cryptic for the viewer. - Garrison Skunk (2005)

      IN SHORT: Upon seeing Ammie E. (Shorty) Greer's self-appointed nickname on the sign-in board, John bends down while greeting her and says, "You're not so short!" Next, during her panel walk-by, Steve deliberately looks over her head and puts his hand way out over her head to shake her hand, while innocently saying, "Hello, how are you?" To cap off the good-natured "short jokes," Victor then walks out from behind the panel desk, and crouches over "Groucho Marx style" to greet her. - Garrison Skunk (2005)

      PLUG: Arlene plugs Victor Borge's one-man show at the Golden Theatre in NY. - Garrison Skunk (2005)

      SPLICE MYSTERY SOLVED? Although it's impossible to know why the film was spliced, I'm inclined to think it was due to mishandling, rather than the necessity to cut out anything Steve said. Upon close examination, it's evident that several frames before the splice are damaged with scratches and dirt. My guess is that the kinescope recording was damaged. This has happened at other times on other broadcasts, but the effect was never to obliterate a funny remark. Decades later, we can only guess at what Steve might have said. The soundtrack of a kinescope leads the corresponding video frame by several inches, because the sound drum of the projector is several inches past the projection lamp in the film path. Because the lamp comes first, when there is a splice in the film, we first see the picture jump, then a second later we hear the sound jump. Thus, we can interpolate what Steve said during the missing audio, by reading his lips. My guess? He said, "Good night boys, and good night, Victor Borge," skipping over Arlene, which could have easily led to Arlene's laughing response, "I'm here." - Lee McIntyre (2005)

      My guess is that Steve Allen was mimicking Jimmy Durante and said, "Good night boys, and good night, Arlene, wherever you are." This too would have prompted Arlene to reply, "I'm here." - Suzanne (2008)

    • RICHARD WIDMARK AND A RARE STUDIO AUDIENCE SCREEN SHOT: Richard Widmark had been unable to serve in the military during World War II due to a perforated eardrum. His mild hearing loss is evident on this episode, as he frequently cups his hand around his right ear to enable him to hear better. Regarding Dorothy's question of what Richard Widmark does that children imitate - it's a maniacal laugh. From IMDB Trivia: Widmark is unforgettable in his screen debut in 1947's "Kiss of Death" as Tommy Udo, a psychopathic mob hit-man who giggles gleefully even as he sends a wheelchair-bound old woman tumbling down a long stairway to her demise. Widmark promoted his 1954 film, "Hell and High Water." When he discussed this movie with John, he stated that his co-star, Bella Darvi, was in the audience. The camera then focused on her, giving us an extremely rare shot of the "What's My Line?" studio audience. Only a small portion of the audience was framed in the camera. Over the long history of "What's My Line?," the only other time we saw a camera shot of the studio audience was on EPISODE #284 of November 13, 1955, when Kentucky's governor-elect Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler was shown seated in the audience. - Suzanne (2005)

      MORE ON THE RARE STUDIO AUDIENCE CAMERA SHOT: Although we see only about 10 audience members, almost all out of focus and only fleetingly (the shot was less than six seconds in duration), by watching carefully in slow motion, we can gain an insight into the What's My Line? studio audience. It was a mixed audience of men and women, mostly aged approximately 35-55. The audience members, like the guests, wore their Sunday best. The men all wore coats and ties. At least four of the women wore hats, which were fashionable at the time. Although Bella Darvi wore a sleeveless gown, a woman seated directly behind her was wearing a long coat. Several of the audience members apparently didn't know who Darvi was until Widmark acknowledged her presence, for there was a certain amount of nudging, whispering, and pointing as she stood to her feet. - Lee McIntyre (2005)

      Tidbits: Since What's My Line? was first broadcast on February 2, 1950, the show is nearing its "fourth anniversary" show. No mention of this was made tonight. - Suzanne (2005)

      Victor Borge (1/3/1909 - 12/23/2000)

      Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Steve Allen, Arlene Francis, Victor Borge. Bennett Cerf had the night off. He was on a lecture tour in California.

  • Allusions

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