What's My Line?

Season 6 Episode 40


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Jun 05, 1955 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
6 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Game 1: Mrs. Elizabeth Rowens - "Attendant in Public Bath (City of Baltimore)" (salaried; she works for the city's free public bath; from Baltimore, Maryland)

Game 2: William Gourlay - "Drives Patrol Wagon (N.Y.C. Police Dept.)" (salaried; he is a civil servant employee who drives a paddy wagon for the New York City Police Department; from Brooklyn, New York)

Game 3: Conrad Hilton (12/25/1887 - 1/3/1979) (as Mystery Guest) - The overlay screen read "Famous Hotel Owner"

Game 4: Alex Tansman - "Makes Davy Crockett Hats" (self-employed; he wrote his name on the board so small that John and Bennett humorously tried to decipher what he had written; there were only 90 seconds for his game; he donated his winnings to the Heart Fund; from New York, NY; see notes below) . .moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

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  • Error made by moderator of this blog.

    The moderator's name is Mr. Lee McIntyre. He lives in Riverside, California.

    He listed the wrong name at the end of the long paragraph I submitted here in 2005.

    You can find the long paragraph in the "Notes" section that starts with the name "Alex Tansman." He is the final contestant on this episode.

    For whatever reason, Mr. McIntyre ignored my Facebook login and added the name "David Herschel" as the credit at the end of the long paragraph.

    I am Brian Kaufman. Alex Tansman was my father's cousin. My father got the backstory from Alex before Alex died in 1962.

    This should clear up any misinformation about who is giving you the backstory.

    The kinescope of this episode can entertain people more than five decades later. Everyone who appeared on "What's My Line?" acted much more dignified than the people who appear on the hostile television talk shows and news commentary shows we have today.moreless
  • My grandfather appeared as a guest on this show and it remains in the minds of all our family. From the other reviews it appears that the show was quite well received.moreless

    This was an exciting episode for me since my grandfather was on it and the other reviews obviously enjoyed his appearance. Alex Tansman was the guest and I would love to see a video copy of this if it is available. I can remember being very young when this was on, and the fact that it was live was thrilling to our family. But I was 6 years old and fell asleep before my grandfather was on. We were all quite upset that he was last and that he was cut short, but only when I read these reviews did I find that Arlene Francis was furious and would not wear the Davy Crockett hat. Of course, I wore it everywhere. Thank you for providing this information on the web because I\'ve only learned the details today. Does anyone know how one can obtain a videotape of this episode? Please leave a comment here if possible.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)

Fred Allen

Fred Allen

Regular Panelist (1955-1956)

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (2)

  • NOTES (5)

    • FLIP REPORT: John flipped the remaining cards for the first contestant at eight down. The panel never really got close to figuring out what her line was. John flipped the remaining cards for the second contestant at seven down. Arlene had correctly guessed this contestant's line, but she was out of turn, so John flipped the cards on this technicality. Finally, John flipped the remaining cards for the final contestant at just three down. Time was very short on this game -- only a minute and a half was allotted for it -- and John dispensed with the opening walk-by segment, as has been the recent custom with these short final games. Before the cards went over, Arlene guessed that this contestant's product was something in the "hat family." This contestant donated his full prize to the Heart Fund. As the night came to a close, John placed the Davy Crockett hat the contestant had given him atop the fully flipped set of cards. - agent_0042 (2008)

    • (1) "WML?" SPONSOR WATCH: This evening, the turn for being main sponsor falls upon Stopette.
      (2) MYSTERY GUEST CONRAD HILTON: For his only "WML?" appearance tonight, the hotel magnate's nameplate on the panel moderator's desk is set in the customary typeface for such plaques, Title Gothic Condensed No. 11. In addition, as he was signing in, the upper-third overlay reading "Famous Hotel Owner" was set in the "last-minute" font which, of late, has been alternating with the more professional typesettings in Kabel Heavy for such overlays.
      (3) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: When aired on July 28, 2008 by GSN, the end credits continued to suffer (along with the viewers) from the cable and satellite channel's relentless and persistent "crunching" practices -- even though such credits this evening only consisted of the usual American Airlines travel plug and the "WML?" title card.
      (4) GSN's July 28, 2008 airing of tonight's show was followed by the November 26, 1952 edition of "The Name's the Same," hosted by Robert Q. Lewis. Garry Moore, host of the then-new "I've Got a Secret," sat in on the panel alongside Joan Alexander and Meredith Willson. The celebrity guest was Dick Haymes, another personality whose appearance on "TNTS" was more fortunate (in terms of still being able to be seen today) than his mystery guest appearance on the now-lost "WML?" EPISODE #9 of June 7, 1950. - W-B (2008)

    • ALEX TANSMAN: A relative of mine, Alex Tansman, was the "What's My Line?" contestant who made Davy Crockett hats, and he appeared on the June 5, 1955 episode. Because this relative had a daughter and grandchildren who were getting on in years in the 1990s, I made a point of obtaining a VHS cassette of the episode that includes original commercials. If you watch it, you can hear the studio audience laugh nervously during the Stopette ad that aired live immediately after the Crockett contestant had left the stage. Why? According to family, it was because Arlene was throwing a temper tantrum in response to an offscreen producer's request that she don a Crockett hat so viewers could see samples of my relative's product after the commercial. As soon as the red light on the camera went on, Arlene gave in, donned the cap and acted positive. She does seem to be very high-strung, however, when she jokes, "I'm Daisy Crockett, queen of the wild frontier." - David B. Henschel (2008)

      ARLENE AS "DAISY CROCKETT" - The final contestant's name is Alex Tansman. He was born with the Jewish (Yiddish) name Ela, and Americanized his name to Alex when he immigrated to the United States from his native Russia in 1912. He was a self-employed furrier by trade, originally making ladies' fur coats. However, ladies' furs almost disappeared during World War II, because the Nazis took over most of the countries where the fur-bearing animals lived. Then, after the war, women moved to the suburbs and switched to wearing Pat Nixon's "respectable Republican cloth coat." Faced with a declining fur market, Alex Tansman used his ingenuity. He was resourceful, and responded to the fur coat's decline by making a hat for children. For his day, this was a novel idea. The result was Mr. Tansman's new Walt Disney product, Davy Crockett hats, marketed to the millions of little baby boomers.

      Tansman's death in 1962 merited an obituary in a trade magazine for furriers. The New York Times ran a classified death notice but not an article. Other New York papers ignored his passing. To this day, the New York obits are competitive. Alex Tansman has surviving descendents. Read about Geoff Goldman, his surviving great-grandson, and Geoff G.'s career as a rock & roll drummer at this web site for his band Lunar Detour:


      Geoff's grandmother Shirley, daughter of Alex Tansman, remembers what happened when the cameras on this episode cut from her father to a live commercial for Stopette cream deodorant and antiperspirant. People watching at home thought he had left the stage for good, but he returned to the soundstage during the commercial to pass out a Davy Crockett hat to John Daly and one to each panelist. The producers - and probably Mr. Daly - knew of this in advance, but the panelists didn't. According to Shirley's recollections, Arlene Francis evidently disliked the idea of donning the Crockett hat, and she threw a little temper tantrum -- as the panelists often do when asked to put on their masks twice in one evening. On the original 1955 kinescope, you can hear the studio audience laugh during the Stopette commercial. They were reacting either to Mr. Tansman passing out the hats or to Arlene's behavior.

      The camera cuts from the commercial to John Daly, who has placed his hat on top of the flip cards on his desk, discreetly refusing to wear it while he reminds viewers to tune in next Sunday night. Next comes an advertisement for the Remington Rand electric shaver, which the pitchman suggests as a Father's Day gift. Then, Mr. Daly reappears with the hat still perched on the desk. He starts the good nights.

      When Arlene's turn to talk comes, she seems animated and happy. According to Mr. Tansman's daughter, she made an instant switch from anger to joy as soon as the light on the camera went on again. Pretending to enjoy the hat, she kids, "I'm Daisy Crockett, queen of the wild frontier."

      Then, Bennett looks at her and says, "You send that back to Kefauver." He is referring to U. S. Senator Estes Kefauver, a Democrat representing Tennessee who wore a coonskin cap for most public appearances, including his successful 1954 reelection campaign. Senator Kefauver, who hailed from the same state as Davy Crockett, even appeared on the March 24, 1952 cover of Time magazine wearing his famous cap, and was the mystery guest on the still-surviving WML EPISODE #42 of March 18, 1951.

      After Bennett's comment about Kefauver, the camera cuts to John Daly, who says, "Mr. Tansman, as you can see, brought one for everybody."

      - David Henschel (2005)

    • REVIEW: This is one night the panel probably wished they could have stayed home. Sadly, this episode marked one of the few times in the early years that they went 0 for the night. In the first game, they were so far off track that John threw in the towel and flipped all the cards, so the bath attendant won $50 by default. In the second game, Arlene correctly guessed that the contestant drove a "paddy wagon." Unfortunately, when she made her guess, it was after her turn had passed, and because of that, the contestant was awarded the full prize. The mystery guest round marked the first time that the panel was stumped since the new questioning rules for the round were put into place. However, Bennett did correctly guess that it was Conrad Hilton, but it was after all the cards were flipped. Adding insult to injury, the panel ran out of time with the man who made the famous Davy Crockett coonskin hats and he too won the full prize by default. The contestant then announced that he was giving his winnings to the Heart Fund. He certainly didn't need the money since he already was sitting on a gold mine with one of the biggest fads of the 1950's. And so ended one of the panel's worst nights, game-wise, in the show's history. It may have been a bad night, but at least they had fun. - Sargebri (2005)

      HILTON: Mystery guest Conrad Hilton wasn't the only famous member of his family. Throughout the past fifty years, various members of his family have been in the public spotlight. In May 1950, his son, Conrad Nicholson Hilton, Jr., who went by the nickname Nicky, became the first of Elizabeth Taylor's seven husbands. They divorced in February 1951. In 1959, Hilton's other son, William Barron Hilton, became one of the owners in the fledgling American Football League when he became the owner of the Los Angeles (later San Diego) Chargers. He owned the team from 1959 until 1966 and it was under his ownership that they won the 1963 AFL championship. However, in the 21st century, a new generation of Hiltons is making the tabloid rounds. Hilton's great-granddaughters, Paris and Nicholai, who also goes by the nickname Nicky, would become two of the most famous, or infamous, heiresses today. Both girls became known for their lavish tastes as well as their nonstop partying. Nicky also became an entrepreneur with her line of designer handbags and older sister Paris starred in the critically lambasted reality show "The Simple Life" with her best friend Nicole Richie. - Sargebri (2005)

    • Public baths were built in Baltimore, MD beginning in the late 1800s in densely populated portions of the city. It was seen as a way to improve sanitary conditions in areas where immigrants and the poor rarely had access to private facilities for laundry and bathing. By the date of this WML episode, most of the public baths had outlived their usefulness and had been closed. - dwking31 (2005)

      Thanks to the contestant in game four, the panel dons coonskin caps at the end of this episode. They each say good night wearing a Davy Crockett hat! - Suzanne (2005)

      Conrad Hilton is the owner of the famous chain of Hilton Hotels. He mentions he is leaving Wednesday to open a new hotel in Istanbul, Turkey. During his game, a confounded Dorothy uses a common saying of hers when she mutters, "I'm dead." - Suzanne (2005)

      Tidbits: The panel is introduced backwards tonight, from Bennett over to the first chair on his right. They are seated in their usual positions. - Suzanne (2005)

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