What's My Line?

Season 5 Episode 25


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Feb 21, 1954 on CBS



  • Trivia

  • Quotes

  • Notes

    • (1) "WML?" SPONSOR WATCH: The main sponsor for this elusive episode is Remington electric shavers.
      (2) GUEST PANELIST DEBORAH KERR: At the time of her second and final "WML?" appearance tonight, Deborah Kerr was appearing on Broadway in "Tea and Sympathy." After her Oscar-nominated role in 1953's "From Here to Eternity," it was another two years before she appeared in another movie, when in 1955 she played "Sarah Miles" in "The End of the Affair." Less than three months from tonight's show, on May 14, 1954, Miss Kerr was one of two guests on that evening's edition of "Person to Person"; the other was Wally Cox. The actress introduced the panel moderator this evening as "the one, the only John Daly," borrowing from the intro for future "WML?" guest panelist and mystery guest Groucho Marx on his wildly successful quiz show, "You Bet Your Life." Miss Kerr thus becomes the first female guest panelist, among the extant "WML?" episodes, to introduce Mr. Daly, a distinction already held on three occasions by regular panelist Dorothy Kilgallen.
      (3) "WML?" OVERLAY FONT WATCH: The three regular contestants' overlay screens are set, as always during this period, in Kabel Heavy. However, while Mrs. Vaughn and Mr. Wiswell have their overlays set all in capital letters, which is the norm, second contestant Cliff Olsen's overlay of "Sells Maternity Clothes" is set in both upper and lower case.
      (4) FROM "THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP" DEPARTMENT: Tonight marked the first of six "WML?" appearances, all as a mystery guest, by the star of the highly successful "I Love Lucy," Lucille Ball. The "First Lady of Television" will go on to be the most prolific female mystery guest on the show in its 17.5-year CBS run, with her final appearance being on EPISODE #774 of July 25, 1965. For her uproarious mystery guest spot this evening, Miss Ball's nameplate on the panel moderator's desk is set in the regular Title Gothic Condensed No. 11.
      (5) "WML?" END CREDITS AND CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: It is probably with tonight's show that the end credits order is changed to what will be described in EPISODE #197. After executive producer Gil Fates comes director Franklin Heller, followed by the slide with the names of coordinator of production Bob Bach and program manager Frances Trocaine, and finally, set designer Robert Rowe Paddock. The two-name end credit slide and Mr. Heller's slide had their order reversed from what it had been up to this point. Also, because this episode is not in either GSN's or FremantleMedia's archives, there are therefore no end credits for the cable and satellite channel to impose its intrusive "crunching" procedure on its viewing audience. - W-B (2008)

    • CLIP SEEN ON PBS: A small part of the Cliff Olsen segment was used in the one-hour January 2008 PBS documentary "Pioneers of Television." The four-part documentary focused on TV's early days and its key personalities. This segment was used on the "Game Shows" episode, primarily to highlight Steve Allen's career. - sixtyfivealive (2008)

      CLIFF'S SEGMENT: Cliff Olsen's film clip, as aired by PBS, showed him in the following activities: standing at the sign-in board with John Daly; performing the panel walk-by; taking his seat by John Daly; and answering a game question posed by Steve Allen. During the panel walk-by, a visibly pregnant Dorothy Kilgallen was shown. - Suzanne (2008)

      DOROTHY MATERNITY WATCH 9.5 of 10: Dorothy Kilgallen is currently eight months pregnant. References are made on this episode regarding her condition. On March 19, 1954, she will give birth to her third and last child, a red-headed baby boy named Kerry Kollmar. - Suzanne (2006)

      ON THE NEST: Until this evening, no mention of Dorothy's pregnancy had been made on any of the preceding "What's My Line?" episodes. Even tonight, the word "pregnant" is not used, because it is considered taboo to use the word in polite society. Rather, in the second game, Arlene asks the seller of maternity clothes if his product has anything to do with "motherhood." Other euphemisms common in the 1950s were "with child," "in a family way," "in a delicate condition," "has a bun in the oven" and "on stork watch." What a contrast this is to the less restricted mores of contemporary society. - Lee McIntyre (2008)

      Per Gil Fates' handwritten logs, the master kinescope of this episode is lost. At least one full-length sub-kinescope formerly owned by Gil Fates is known to exist in a private collection. Yet another copy of this episode was purchased on eBay in 2005. It is also obvious that Lucille Ball was given a sub-kinescope at the time of appearance, since the mystery guest round portion of this episode shows up on "Lucy" compilation videotapes. But, since this episode is not in the GSN/Fremantle archive, it is considered "officially" lost and will never be seen on GSN. - Suzanne (2005)


      GSN does not have this show, but according to Gil Fates' logs, a sub-kinescope exists. I recently viewed this episode, so here is what we missed.

      Bennett Cerf is away and his place on the panel is taken by actress Deborah Kerr, so we have three woman on the panel along with Steve Allen.

      GAME 1: Frances Vaughn (from Bonner Springs, Kansas) Kansas State Board Movie Censor. Despite Dorothy guessing early on that Frances works for the state government, the panel is stumped and she wins the full prize.

      GAME 2: Cliff Olsen (from Hickory, North Carolina) Sells Maternity Clothes. Steve started the questioning and got a big laugh when he asked if Cliff's product would be useful to a member of the panel. He then asked if one of his colleagues would be more apt to use the product then he. (Big Laugh) He then got a huge laugh when he asked if one of the panel members was wearing this item right now! After a brief conference, John said that Cliff did not know, but he would answer "yes" to the question. (This, of course, was a reference to Dorothy's pregnancy! Her son will be born on March 19, 1954.) John was laughing hysterically during Steve's questioning. Steve then passed to Arlene who got a "no" answer to her question, "Does he make maternity clothes?" This left it to Deborah Kerr to guess that Cliff sold them. John was so happy, he flipped all the cards and gave Cliff the full prize.

      FIRST COMMERCIAL FOR REMINGTON: The studio announcer, Dick Stark, introduces a film of a barber shop quartet doing a singing commercial about the Remington Electric Shaver.

      GAME 3: Lucille Ball (Previously reviewed below.)

      GAME 4: Tom Wiswell (from Brooklyn, NY) World's Champion Checker Player. There was no panel walk-by due to time running out. In addition, there were only a few questions asked before John stopped the game and gave Tom the full prize by default.

      SECOND COMMERCIAL FOR REMINGTON: Dick Stark tells the viewers they can get $7.50 for their old electric razor if they trade it in for a new Remington.
      John Reminds the viewers that WML is on every Sunday at 10:30 PM.

      THIRD COMMERCIAL: Short filmed commercial for Stopette.

      John announces that Deborah Kerr appeared on the show through the courtesy of "The NY Lighthouse For The Blind."

      There was no information given by John about where to send mail to become a WML contestant, so I believe this was not done on every show.

      During the goodbyes, Steve said he hoped "his boys" had their PJ's on. This was a reference to his sons.

      This was a very funny show. - ymike (2005)


      Lucille Ball's "lost" 1954 WML mystery guest appearance is available on the 1990 Goodtimes Video titled "A Tribute To Lucy," which is a compilation of some of her lesser-known movie and TV appearances, including clips from a pre-"I Love Lucy" appearance with Desi on February 7, 1950 on "The Ed Wynn Show," as well as a February 9, 1956 appearance with Desi on "I've Got a Secret."

      This WML mystery guest appearance is edited, but most of if is intact. It starts with Lucy signing the sign-in board, Daly's usual mystery guest introduction, and Dorothy's first question. Lucy uses a hilarious "Martian" dialect that had been used in a then-not-yet-aired 1954 "I Love Lucy" episode where she and "Ethel Mertz" (played by Vivian Vance) dress up as Martians and frighten people on top of the Empire State Building in New York City. On this WML, Lucy also uses a variation of her line, "It's a Moo-Moo."

      Highlights of this WML segment include:

      Dorothy asking, "What did IT say?"

      Steve Allen asking, "Are you a man?"

      But the best part was Arlene jumping right in with her own "Martian dialect." Lucy responds, and then turns to John Daly and says, "She knows." (Over the years, Arlene often uses this trick of imitating the disguised voices of the mystery guests.) Finally, we see guest panelist Deborah Kerr, who is sitting in Bennett's chair, whispering to Arlene, "It MUST be Lucy!" Although, there was probably no question in anyone's mind at this point.

      Apparently, Lucy was very nervous about coming on, and told the producers ahead of time that she hardly had any voice left. Supposedly this was her first visit to New York in four years. She was there because she was on a ten-day publicity tour to promote the Heart Fund. (Shades of Bobby Darin!) The WML clip ends before we get to see her shake hands with the panel, though we do see her sneak in a "Hi, Steve!" to Steve Allen after being guessed.

      This episode is also reviewed in Geoffrey Fidelman's 1999 collection "The Lucy Book," which is a must-have book for Lucille Ball fans! In it, there is a fascinating modern perspective from Steve Allen:

      "I had first worked with Lucille on radio doing "My Favorite Husband." I only had a small part then, but it was written by the same folks who wrote for my radio show, Bob Carroll Jr., and Madelyn Pugh. 'What's My Line?' was totally legit, and they hired me for my type. As long as you were witty and urbane and got two or three good laughs, you were a success. Much of the humor on this show came from the comedy of manners. That sort of comedy is gone today, along with manners. Television has become vulgarians entertaining barbarians. As far as that evening went, we really did have to gauge things just on the voices alone. On television, it seemed like Lucy was very far away from us, but in reality it was only about eight feet."

      - Rob Johnson (2004)

    • Deborah Kerr (9/30/1921 - 10/16/2007)

      Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Steve Allen, Arlene Francis, Deborah Kerr. Bennett Cerf had the night off. He was on a lecture tour in California. - Suzanne (2004)

  • Allusions

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