Alfred Hitchcock: (On his habit of appearing in a cameo in most every film he directed) The indignity of being a ham is thrust upon me.
FLIP REPORT: John flipped five cards for the final contestant after Robert Q. Lewis guessed that she was Marilyn Monroe's dramatic coach at two down. The line had already been guessed during the free guess segment, but John had the panel play the regular game to try to guess exactly why Miss Forman was in town. There was initially some confusion as to whether they were to simply ask questions or if he wanted them to make a flat-out guess as to the identity of the star she was coaching. Ultimately, this mattered little, given how quickly the name "Marilyn Monroe" was mentioned. The panel had already been suspecting an appearance by Marilyn Monroe, or someone with a connection to her, as her name was mentioned during the mystery guest segment as well. For the record, Marilyn Monroe never made an appearance on "WML?" during its 17.5 year run. - agent_0042 (2008)
CINECON 41: Lee Meriwether was a guest at the 2005 Cinecon Film Festival, which was held from September 1-5, 2005, in Hollywood, California. During dinner at Musso and Frank's Grill, I was delighted to sit beside her. She informed me that she had been searching for a "Miss America 1955" kinescope, but to no avail, because the beauty pageant kinescope had been lost for decades. When I informed her that her September 12, 1954 appearance on "WML?" existed, and that this was the very next day after her pageant win, she became enthralled. I explained that she was seen in her diamond tiara, still excited over the previous evening's festivities, seated next to the pageant's host, John Daly. She gave me her address and I sent this episode to her the next week. It was not what she was originally looking for, but she was still grateful to obtain this historical record on film from her Miss America reign. - Stan16mm (2008)
(1) "STEVE ALLEN ERA" WATCH: This is the last extant "WML?" episode of what has come to be known as the "Steve Allen era," though the man himself, just as last week, was off tonight. Unfortunately, Mr. Allen's final appearance as a regular panelist, on the experimental color EPISODE #225 of September 19, 1954, no longer exists, whether in color or black-and-white, so therefore the last extant show on which Steverino appeared as a regular panelist was EPISODE #222 of August 29, 1954.
(2) "WML?" SPONSOR AND OPENING WATCH: Tonight's main sponsor as displayed on the panel desk was Stopette. In the transition from the opening titles to the off-screen announcer's introduction of the panel, there was no audience applause, although they were heard after the introduction for Miss Kilgallen.
(3) MYSTERY GUEST NAMEPLATE WATCH: The nameplates for both mystery guests were set in the usual Title Gothic Condensed No. 11, with that for Miss America 1955 Lee Meriwether reading "Miss America" and the plaque for Alfred Hitchcock displaying his full name. Also, the "Miss America 1955" overlay as seen while Miss Meriwether signed in was the usual "last-minute" font.
(4) "THERE SHE IS...": The Miss America Pageant on which Lee Meriwether was crowned on September 11, 1954 made history as the first nationally televised pageant, with ABC initially airing the program. It wasn't until the following year's telecast in 1955 that Bert Parks, who would become forever synonymous with Miss America, first hosted the proceedings, up to his controversial firing in 1979 when the pageant organizers deemed him, at 65 years of age, to be "too old." It was also in 1955 that "There She Is, Miss America" became the theme song for the pageant. The annual ceremony moved to CBS in 1957, NBC in 1966 (with the exception of the 1977 edition which was on CBS), and back to ABC from 1996 until 2004. Since then, the pageant has aired on cable and satellite TV, and in recent years, its base of operations was moved from Atlantic City, NJ to Las Vegas, Nevada. As a side note, Bert Parks -- who himself once had a Goodson-Todman connection, via the 1948-1952 radio series "Stop the Music" whose massive popularity caused a precipitous decline in the ratings for the long-running radio series of soon-to-be (in four months) "WML?" regular panelist Fred Allen -- never made any appearances on "WML?" at any time in its 17.5-year CBS run, but was a mystery guest on the syndicated "WML?" in 1969 and again within the final 1974-1975 season, the latter appearance on a week in which Miss America 1971, Phyllis George, was a guest panelist.
(5) "GOOD EV-E-NING": While famed director Alfred Hitchcock made his only "WML?" appearance tonight, this would not be the last time his visage would be seen on the small screen. Only a year later, beginning on October 2, 1955, Mr. Hitchcock became host and executive producer of the half-hour filmed anthology series "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." In its ten years (1955-1965) on the air -- the last three, from 1962 on, as "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" -- the program had two runs apiece on CBS (1955-1960 and 1962-1964) and NBC (1960-1962 and 1964-1965). One of the producers during the show's history was Norman Lloyd, who started out as an associate producer, and by the end of its run, was executive producer. Mr. Lloyd went on to play "Dr. Daniel Auschlander" on the 1982-1988 series "St. Elsewhere." Among the many directors who worked on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" was John Newland, who himself garnered fame as host of the 1959-1960 anthology series "One Step Beyond." As for Mr. Hitchcock, 1954 was a busy year, with two films -- "Dial M for Murder" and "Rear Window" having been released, and "To Catch a Thief" only several months from hitting the theatres. As he signed in, the director also drew his caricature profile which would go on to become the trademark of his aforementioned television series.
(6) "WML?" END CREDITS AND CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: Tonight's show was the last to feature the end credits in the "old-style" typesetting (Franklin Gothic Condensed and Gillies Gothic Bold, with the "CBS" part of the "In Association with the CBS Television Network" slide card set in Alternate Gothic No. 1) that, in this form, had been in use since at least 1952, if not earlier. As next week's experimental color episode is lost to history, we do not know which end credit slides are used on that show; but two weeks from now, new end credit graphics with illustrations by artist Roy Doty will take their place. Alas, none of this mattered in the least to GSN, which on its June 22, 2008 airing of this episode carried on as usual with its boorish, monotonous and tiresome maligned "crunching" of the end credits.
(7) "IGAS" OLD HOME WEEK - AND THE END OF AN ERA: GSN's June 22, 2008 airing of tonight's "WML?" episode was followed by a rerun of the September 5, 1966 edition of "I've Got a Secret" which was the last episode of the series to be telecast in black-and-white. Host Steve Allen and the panel of Betsy Palmer, Bill Cullen, Bess Myerson and Henry Morgan were back in harness after two and a half months of reruns. The celebrity guest was former "IGAS" host Garry Moore, who was promoting his upcoming new variety show which ran on CBS from September 11, 1966 to January 8, 1967, one of a long list of CBS shows since 1961 (a list that also included "The Real McCoys," "The Judy Garland Show," future "WML?" guest panelist William Shatner's "For the People," and "Perry Mason") that fell victim to the "Bonanza" onslaught on Sundays at 9:00 PM. Mr. Moore's longtime sidekick, Durward Kirby, came back to join him on the new show, leading Durward to leave "Candid Camera" which he co-hosted with Allen Funt since 1961; Mr. Kirby would be replaced for what would be "Candid's" final 1966-1967 season by "IGAS's" own Bess Myerson. Also of note is that among the regulars of Mr. Moore's ill-fated 1966-1967 comeback attempt were John Byner and then-New York-based children's show host, and later comic actor, Chuck McCann. During the opening, Mr. Moore came out to thunderous applause which lasted about 30 seconds; the opening titles were interrupted midway by GSN on its 2008 airing in favor of its own new ad break, owing to this "IGAS" episode's sponsor being Tempo cigarettes, coupled with the cable and satellite channel's prohibition on cigarette advertising on vintage shows. - W-B (2008)
HALLOWEEN WEEKEND: GSN aired this episode on November 1, 2005 as part of a "Halloween Weekend" of horror-related stars appearing on Goodson-Todman shows. This show was preceded by an airing of "WML?" EPISODE #405 of March 9, 1958 on which Vincent Price was a guest panelist. This "WML?" episode had previously been shown in regular rotation on February 5, 2005. - W-B (2005)
NEXT WEEK IN COLOR: At the end of this episode, John Daly announced that next week's episode would be shown in color. Unfortunately, that early experimental color episode is lost to history. However, the names of the mystery guests and the occupations of the regular contestants have been filled in from Gil Fates' logs. Also noted in the logs is that the special episode was broadcast from CBS Studio 72. - Suzanne (2005)
REVIEW: This was a pretty decent night for the panel. Bennett correctly guessed that the mystery guest was the then new Miss America, and future star of the small screen, Lee Meriwether. Ironically, Arlene thought that Lee was another former Miss America, Bess Myerson. At the time, Bess was a panelist on another Goodson-Todman panel game, ABC's "The Name's the Same," which was hosted by guest panelist Robert Q. Lewis. Unfortunately, in the second game, even though they did guess that the contestant had something to do with corsets, they never were able to figure out that he fitted them and he wound up with the full prize by default. They did bounce back nicely in the mystery guest round when Dorothy correctly guessed that the mystery guest was the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock. Mr. Hitchcock was on the show to promote his latest release, the classic "Rear Window" which starred James Stewart, Grace Kelly and Raymond Burr. The big event of the night occurred when Bennett, during the free guesses, correctly guessed that the final contestant was a drama coach. However, it was Robert Q. Lewis who correctly guessed that she was the dramatic coach of Marilyn Monroe, who was in New York filming the comedy classic "The Seven Year Itch." - Sargebri (2005)
MISS AMERICA: The previous night, Lee Meriwether joined that wonderful list of young ladies who were crowned Miss America. However, she belongs to an even smaller sorority, the Miss Americas who were successful in their entertainment careers long after their one-year reign. Miss Meriwether would go on to have a successful career as an actress. Her first major role was in the 1956 science fiction film "The 4-D Man," which also starred Robert Lansing, James Congdon and a 13 year old actress by the name of Patty Duke. However, her biggest success would come on the small screen. In 1966, she would take on the role of "Doctor Ann MacGregor" in the 1966-1967 Irwin Allen science fiction series "The Time Tunnel." However, her most famous role was that of "Betty Jones," the daughter-in-law and secretary of Buddy Ebsen's "Barnaby Jones" in the 1973-1980 series of the same name. She also was famous for playing the second "Catwoman" in the 1966 film version of the campy "Batman" series. Unfortunately, Lee's string of successes seemed to come to an end when she took the role of "Lily Munster" in the 1988-1991 television series, "The Munsters Today," which was an ill-advised remake of the 1964-1966 classic ghoul comedy series "The Munsters." However, Lee was not the only woman to have a successful career outside of being Miss America. The first was Bess Myerson, Miss America 1945, who went on to a highly successful run on two Goodson-Todman panel shows, "The Name's the Same" and "I've Got a Secret." After Bess and Lee, there was Mary Ann Mobley, who won the crown for 1959 after a rather steamy "mock striptease" talent contest performance. She would go on to have a successful career in films and television, most notably in the 1965 Elvis Presley film "Harum Scarum." Still another member of this club was Phyllis George, Miss America 1971, who for several years appeared as the female member of the pregame crew for CBS's broadcasts of National Football League games. But perhaps the most famous, or infamous, member of this club was the woman who won in the crown for 1984, Vanessa Williams. Not only was she the first black Miss America, she also was the first one forced to relinquish her crown after nude photos she took a few years earlier surfaced in Penthouse magazine. However, she did bounce back quite nicely by becoming a highly successful recording artist and actress. - Sargebri (2005)
BASEBALL: During the introductions, Arlene mentioned Bennett's love for the New York Giants and that year's National League pennant race. The Giants not only wound up winning the pennant, but the World Series as well, when they defeated the heavily favored Cleveland Indians in a four game sweep. - Sargebri (2005)
WOW! The last contestant, Miss Tala Forman, is Marilyn Monroe's dramatic coach, and Bennett guessed her line on the panel's "Free Wild Guess" feature! He only said "dramatic coach," and didn't say "Marilyn Monroe," but it was good enough for John. For fun, and to use up time, they then went on to try to guess the star she was coaching. Robert Q. Lewis guessed correctly when the cards were at $10! John flipped some cards as a consolation prize, so the contestant ended up winning $35. Bennett told her that her "face looked vaguely familiar" to him, and asked her if she used to be known as "Miss Lytess." She replied "yes." Bennett said he had seen her photo. A photo of Marilyn and Lytess on the set of the 1953 movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" had been published in the May 1953 issue of Family Circle magazine. Possibly, this is the widely-circulated photograph Bennett remembered seeing. It is unknown why she changed her name from Natasha Lytess (aka Natasha Lytesse) to Tala Forman. Bennett pronounced her former surname of "Lytess" as "LaTesse." At the time of this What's My Line? appearance, she is currently Marilyn's drama coach for the 1955 film, "The Seven Year Itch." In earlier years, Lytess had also been an actress, starring in such films as the 1940 comedy/drama "Comrade X" with Clark Gabel and Hedy Lamarr. Marilyn had a close relationship with Lytess for several years, going back to 1948, for both friendship and professional dramatic instruction. Later, the two women had personal difficulties and in 1956 Marilyn refused to see or speak to her again. Marilyn had learned that Lytess was going to write a gossipy article about her. In 1955, Marilyn had hired a new drama coach, Lee Strasberg. Lytess, born in Berlin, Germany in 1913, passed away in 1964. - Suzanne (2005)
FREE WILD GUESSES: For a list of the episode numbers and dates that the 1950 to 1955 "Wild Guesses" or "Free Guesses" were won, see EPISODE #253. - Suzanne (2005)
HARRY'S BAR IN VENICE: Alfred Hitchcock promoted his 1954 film "Rear Window" which stars James Stewart and Grace Kelly. During the questioning, Dorothy asked Hitchcock when the last time he had been in "Harry's Bar in Venice," Italy. His answer of "1939" was not the answer she was looking for. Later, after the game, she said she had been thinking of Jimmy Stewart, whom she had evidently seen much more recently in Harry's Bar. The world-famous Harry's Bar was opened by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1931, and is still open today in 2005. - Suzanne (2005)
THEN AND NOW: On February 2, 2005, Lee Meriwether appeared as a panelist in a Los Angeles, California production of "What's My Line? - Live On Stage." Held at the Acme Theatre, the one-hour show was produced by J. Keith van Straaten and Jim Newman. Hosted by J. Keith van Straaten, the other panel members for the evening were Wil Wheaton, Patt Morrison and Carlos Alazraqui. The mystery guest was Ed Begley, Jr. Moderator J. Keith van Straaten wrote, "When Lee Meriwether was on my WML show, she told us that after her September 12, 1954 appearance, she and John Daly struck up a friendship. She said they would have lunch from time to time, with John giving her advice on her budding broadcasting career. In 1956, she was the first female correspondent on the 'Today' show." Coincidentally, GSN then aired Lee's original episode a few days later on February 5, 2005. - Suzanne (2005)
LEE MERIWETHER: From 1996-1998, and again from 2002 to the present, Lee Meriwether has played "Ruth Parker Brent Martin" in the long-running soap opera "All My Children." Lee took the role when the original cast actress, Mary Fickett, retired. Mary had played the role from 1970-1995 and again from 1998-2001. Most recently, Lee appeared in a few Christmas 2004 shows and the "All My Children 35th Anniversary" show in January 2005. She is known by many of the show's fans on the Internet as "CatRuth" because of her past role as "Catwoman" on "Batman." On one show in 1997, one of "Ruth's" sons remarked that even Miss America wasn't as pretty as their mother! - Gus S. (2005)
Tidbits: John volunteered his hosting duties last night at the Miss America Pageant. He had hoped the panel wouldn't suspect that the producers would arrange to have the new Miss America as a contestant, but when Lee walked in, Arlene mentioned that she heard the rustle of Lee's gown. Lee wore her sash and crown. John cryptically stated that Lee was "self-employed and salaried." - Suzanne (2005)
Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Robert Q. Lewis, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf. Steve Allen had the night off.
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