What's My Line?

Season 1 Episode 2


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Feb 16, 1950 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
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Episode Summary



Game 1: Miss Caroline Weston - "Lady Wrestler" (salaried; from Queens, Long Island, NY)

Game 2: Edward Eisen - "Income Tax Collector" (salaried; from Brooklyn, NY; In 1950, the due date for filing U.S. individual income tax returns was March 15th. Congress did not change the IRS due date to April 15th until 1955.)

Game 3: Elliott Roosevelt (9/23/1910 - 10/27/1990) (as Mystery Guest)

Game 4: Miss Karen Archer - "Teaches Dancing" (salaried; from New York City, NY; in error, the television audience is not shown Karen's occupation, we simply have to play along with the panel)

A backup profession was listed in Gil Fates' notes for a private detective, who finally appeared on the following episode. - Suzanne (2004)

Who was the Episode MVP ?

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    John Daly

    John Daly

    Moderator (1950-1967)

    Arlene Francis

    Arlene Francis

    Regular Panelist (1950-1967)

    Louis Untermeyer

    Louis Untermeyer

    Regular Panelist (1950-1951)

    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (0)

    • QUOTES (0)

    • NOTES (13)

      • AN UNKIND CUT: When GSN aired this episode in 2004, they aired the complete program and the timing was almost 29 minutes. For the next airing in 2008, GSN edited out the entire fourth game so they could add commercials. The 2004 timing was closer to 23 minutes. This was the only one of the very early episodes that was given this hack-job treatment in 2008. - Suzanne (2008)

      • REVIEW - FINALLY, ARLENE!!! Tonight marked the beginning of a very long marriage as the woman who would become the face of WML made her first appearance on the panel; none other than Arlene Francis. In fact, this also marked another historic occasion; the very first perfecto, where the panel correctly guessed all of the games and ended up with an impressive score of 4 for 4. Things got rolling in the first game as Louie, after Arlene had opened the door for him, correctly guessed that the young lady was a female wrestler. The second game definitely was a historic occasion as Arlene made her first guess by correctly guessing that the gentleman was a tax collector. Arlene also correctly identified the evening's mystery guest, Elliott Roosevelt. After the game, Elliott announced that he was donating his winnings to the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund. In the fourth and final game of the evening, Louie correctly identified the contestant's line of dance teacher. This definitely was an excellent way to begin the long, long association of Arlene Francis and WML. - Sargebri (2008)

        WELCOME ABOARD, ARLENE!!! This was the first appearance of Arlene Francis on the WML panel. She would become the longest serving member of the panel, not only appearing through practically every episode of the show's original CBS network run, but also becoming the most respected senior member of the syndicated version. - Sargebri (2008)

        WHERE WAS DOLLY MAE? Dorothy Kilgallen was on an assignment this week, forcing her to miss the broadcast. As a result, the viewing audience would have to wait another week before the classic pairing of Dorothy and Arlene would finally come together. - Sargebri (2008)

      • THE TAXMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE: Or three times, or four, or over and over and over. The panelists were presented with a tax collector from the IRS in this episode, launching a practice that would become common throughout the run of the series. Over the years, the producers would book a tax collector, tax auditor, tax agent, tax examiner or tax preparer as a contestant around the time of "tax day." In spite of the fact that a tax-related contestant was booked almost annually, it's surprising that the panel was still occasionally stumped over the years. - agent_0042 (2008)

        TOO MUCH INFORMATION: The mystery challenger was referred to as "Mr. X," a practice that gave away the gender and would later be dropped. - agent_0042 (2008)

        FLIP REPORT: John flipped all the cards for the mystery challenger at eight down. The guest had specified that his winnings be donated to a cancer society and John stated that they would donate $50. However, all mystery guests received $500 as an appearance fee and it is unknown whether the celebrity donated $50 or $500 to the charity. - agent_0042 (2008)

      • (1) During the opening sequence, the newspaper the man is reading at the table is the New York World-Telegram and Sun. Unfortunately, no one connected with that newspaper appeared on "WML?" in the paper's remaining 16 years of existence, either as a panelist or mystery guest.
        (2) "AND THE PIECES OF THE PUZZLE ARE STARTING TO COME TOGETHER": Tonight's episode marked the debut appearance on the panel of Arlene Francis, who would come to be synonymous with "WML?" for the rest of its days. As with the debut show two weeks prior, the panel lineup gender order is exactly the same: male, female, male, male. Tonight, though, Arlene Francis is the lone female instead of Dorothy Kilgallen. Interestingly, this was the exact same gender order of the panel of the very last EPISODE #876 of September 3, 1967, although among the lineup of that final show, Miss Francis was the only one from tonight's show to be on the panel. She was also, in the bigger picture, the only one of the "regular" panelists never to have appeared as a mystery guest, unlike Steve Allen, Fred Allen, Dorothy Kilgallen, or even Bennett Cerf, if the syndicated version is counted.
        (3) "WML?" OVERLAY FONT AND NAMEPLATE WATCH: Tonight's show had the first instance of a professionally-typeset overlay font for the first and second contestants' occupations. The typeface used on this occasion was Stymie Extra Bold, a serif type font, which was also used for much of the "lost" period in 1951 for the nameplates on the panel desk. It was also the first instance of white type set on a black background. (There is a difference between the appearance of this font and Stymie Black, which was never used at any time by the "WML?" production crew.) However, it still took up much of the screen, with some individual lines barely touching "title safety" on the left and right sides. As to the nameplates, on these very early episodes it appears the typeface used was a sans-serif font, Gothic No. 13 (aka Gothic Condensed No. 140 according to Monotype). Also, besides the "Mr.," "Miss" and "Mrs.," the nameplates also, in some cases, mentioned the professional appendage of some panelists (in this case, "Dr. HOFFMANN" and "Gov. HOFFMAN"). This will likewise be a fixture on "WML?" throughout its entire CBS run (e.g. "REP." for a sitting Congressman, or "SEN." for a sitting Senator). As to the overlay font, it will be awhile before a standard typeface is settled on.
        (4) SIGN-IN BOARD: Prior to settling on a "chalkboard" (which was separate black art paper panels signed with chalk), the early sign-in "board" consisted of sheets of paper, presumably on an easel, on which contestants and mystery guests signed with a magic marker. Like the primitive set of the first episodes, including tonight's, this will be dispensed with down the road.
        (5) MYSTERY GUEST: At the time he appeared on this sophomore edition of "WML?," Elliott Roosevelt was still married to Faye Emerson, "The First Lady of Television"; however, later in this year of 1950, their marriage ended in divorce. Mr. Roosevelt was married a total of five times. From 1965 to 1969, he was Mayor of Miami Beach, Florida. In his later years, Elliott wrote a series of mystery books in which his mother, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, was a detective. He also owned a radio station in Texas for a time.
        (6) "WML?" CREW CREDITS WATCH - SUCH AS IT IS - AND CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: As per the end credit sequence, the production company credited on tonight's show is Goodson-Todman Productions, with no mention of the network. This was the second and last edition of "WML?" to be directed by Paul Munroe. Franklin Heller would not take over the helm until the third episode, as confirmed by show producer Gil Fates in his logs, and mentioned by co-producer Bill Todman on the very last EPISODE #876 of September 3, 1967. Unfortunately, however, GSN has once more reverted to its pitiful, pungent and putrid former habit of "crunching" the screen during the end credit sequence when this second episode was last run on February 27, 2008.
        (7) Following the February 27, 2008 airing of tonight's show, GSN ran an edition of "I've Got a Secret," which originally emanated "live from New York" on June 10, 1963. Host Garry Moore introduced this evening's panel as Bill Cullen, Lauren Bacall (filling in for Bess Myerson), Henry Morgan and Betsy Palmer. The celebrity guest was up-and-coming golf legend Arnold Palmer. - W-B (2008)

      • WELCOME ABOARD ARLENE FRANCIS!!! Little did anyone know, but this was the beginning of a very long association between Arlene Francis and "What's My Line?," as she would become the person most associated with the show. In fact, she would become the face of WML over the next 25 years, much like Kitty Carlisle and Peggy Cass were the faces of "To Tell the Truth." She definitely was well on her way to becoming one of the grande dames of panel shows. Also, in looking at Arlene in 1950 as compared to how she looked in 1967, you could tell why John said that she aged gracefully, because she did. As for her game playing ability, what a way to begin! She asked intelligent questions, and would do it with the class and grace that would become her trademarks. In fact, she guessed the second contestant as well as mystery guest Elliot Roosevelt. Louis Untermeyer was responsible for the other correct guesses, the female wrestler and the dance teacher. Untermeyer showed on this occasion that he was very competitive and somewhat argumentative, traits that would later be associated with Dorothy "Dolly Mae" Kilgallen. This definitely was a good night. - Sargebri (2004)

      • Elliott Roosevelt is the son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. Arlene was able to identify him after she asked, "Did you ever sell Christmas trees?" He donated his show winnings to the Damon Runyan Cancer Fund. - Suzanne (2004)

      • FIVENINEGAL'S THOUGHTS - This was a fun show! It was fabulous to have Arlene on the panel! She was full of spark and personality from day one. It was hilarious when she made that passing "if she were a lady gymnast" remark to John, who has a great poker face! I was disappointed that Dorothy Kilgallen was absent, however. I'm glad that they decided to use both ladies. I can see the appeal for them to go with Arlene initially. How strange was that to see her smoking on the panel?! Dr. Hoffmann makes me nervous. I look forward to Bennett coming aboard! - fiveninegal (2004)

      • The early microphone technology of the day was quite noticeable in this episode. John Daly would move his head about, and the volume of his voice would change. It was also evident that the camera work was in its infancy at this time. It was indeed surprising to see Miss Francis and Mr. Daly smoking. - ironcreekguy (2004)

      • This is former Governor Harold G. Hoffman's second and final appearance. In his 1978 WML book, Gil Fates wrote that after Harold Hoffman's 1954 death, it was discovered that he was a bank embezzler. Gil said that his secret came to light in 1954 when his safe deposit box was opened, and authorities found a letter to his daughter confessing the theft of $300,000 from a bank in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Harold Giles Hoffman is buried in Christ Church Cemetery in South Amboy, NJ. Net articles state that the ex-governor plundered public funds while in office. More here: HOFFMAN CORRUPTION ARTICLE


        Suzanne (2004)

      • This is Arlene Francis' first appearance. Arlene became a regular panelist on this second episode. She noted in her 1978 autobiography that she had been unable to attend the broadcast of the first show. She wrote that Mark Goodson had called her one day and said, "Arlene, would you like to try out an idea with us? It's for a summer replacement, just a thirteen-week deal, but we have John Daly and Dorothy Kilgallen coming over to the house Sunday to see if it works, and we need you. So it won't be a total loss, I'll give you tea and crumpets." Of course, she accepted, and the rest is history. She will remain with WML as a regular panelist for both the entire network and syndicated runs. - Suzanne (2004)

      • THE LOOK OF THINGS - As with the previous episode, the studio set is not yet in its usual familiar placement. Before the opening scrolling credits, a short film is shown of a man sitting at a table, reading a newspaper and drinking a cup of coffee. The narrator wonders if you'd be able to guess his profession. The man looks up from the newspaper and asks, "What's My Line?" - Suzanne (2004)

      • Tidbits: John does not join the guest at the sign-in board until the next episode. There is no formal sponsor yet. This time, the smokers are John Daly, Arlene Francis and Dr. Richard Hoffmann. In Gil Fates' 1978 WML book, he stated that the studio would get very smoky at times. He said that at some later time, they all eventually decided to voluntarily forego their cigarettes during the broadcasts. - Suzanne (2004)

      • Arlene Francis (10/20/2007 - 5/31/2001)

        Panel: Former Governor Harold G. Hoffman, Arlene Francis, Louis Untermeyer, Dr. Richard Hoffmann.

    • ALLUSIONS (1)