What's My Line?

Season 7 Episode 5


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Oct 02, 1955 on CBS



  • Trivia

    • John Daly makes a rare mistake. During the Mystery Guest spot, he flips the $35 card and announces "That's six down and four to go. Mr. Cerf?" He should have announced it was "Seven down and three to go."

  • Quotes

  • Notes

    • FLIP REPORT: John flipped the remaining cards for the first contestant at five down. Dorothy had correctly guessed his line, but John said that since the guest works so hard at his job, he can do this for him. - agent_0042 (2008)

      (1) "WML?" SPONSOR WATCH: The main sponsor's panel desk billboard is displayed this evening as Remington electric shavers, with the accompanying "electric shaver" flip cards on the panel moderator's desk (as opposed to the "atomic" flip cards whenever the "Remington Rand" panel desk display is shown).
      (2) OCCUPATION OVERLAY SCREEN WATCH: Once again, we see the overlay typesetters' proclivity for combining all-capital letters with mixed case (upper and lower case) letters with the first contestant, whose overlay reads as "OPERATES SCOREBOARD at EBBETS FIELD," as well as the second contestant's "PROFESSIONAL PICKPOCKET (Night Club Act)" overlay. After the overlay font is switched next year from Kabel Heavy to Futura Medium, this mixing of all capital letters and mixed case letters will essentially cease.
      (3) LUCY & DESI: With their joint appearance on "WML?" tonight, the bigger-in-height type of nameplate is once again used, with "DESI ARNAZ" on the top line and "LUCILLE BALL" on the bottom line, both set in Title Gothic Condensed No. 11. Four months and six days after tonight's show, on February 8, 1956, Miss Ball was a guest panelist on "I've Got a Secret," sitting alongside regular panelists Bill Cullen, Jayne Meadows and Henry Morgan, while Garry Moore was the host and Mr. Arnaz was a celebrity guest. (Desi's secret was: "I love Lucy.") This "IGAS" appearance came only three days after Desi's guest panelist stint on "WML?" EPISODE #296 of February 5, 1956.
      (4) "WML?" CREW CREDITS WATCH: As is typical of several episodes with the American Airlines plug, the end credits cut off after the "In Association with the CBS Television Network" art card. And as has been typical of GSN over the past year, the cable and satellite channel continued with its unrelenting and unforgiving predilection for "crunching" the screen on its August 12, 2008 airing of this episode.
      (5) A DOUBLE-DOSE OF "Q-SIE," AGAIN: GSN's August 12, 2008 airing of tonight's show was followed by the March 10, 1953 edition of "The Name's the Same," hosted by Robert Q. Lewis, with the panel of Jerry Lester, Joan Alexander and Meredith Willson, and Frances Langford as the celebrity guest. In an ironic coincidence, given the 1955 "WML?" episode that aired on GSN in 2008 just before this vintage 1953 "TNTS" episode, the celebrity Miss Langford would like to have been in her segment was Lucille Ball. - W-B (2008)

    • Mr. Perry is indeed the fellow that Fates had such a good time taking to task in his WML book, how Perry kept name-dropping this and that, that and this on IGAS. I have seen the episode of IGAS he writes about, and Perry does not go wild as described, though he does plug, believe it or not, Arpege again. I believe Perry also said something about Hess's department store in Allentown, Pennsylvania. This well-known store was famed for luxury items such as furs, and publicity stunts like this, but it was somewhat garbled by Perry's fast talking. - stopette (2005)

    • THE CONTROVERSIAL VICTOR PERRY: Does Victor Perry REALLY pick John's pocket? Of course he does! It's what he does every night of the week in his act. The fact that it looks impossible is what makes the act so appealing. He certainly had plenty of time for his stealthy shenanigans, for John mentions at the end of the round that the two of them had an extended chat backstage before the show. Mr. Perry pulls John's wallet from his OWN pocket (Mr. Perry's) as he stands up to leave, showing that he placed the wallet in his pocket BEFORE he sat down to play. Also, the expressions on John's face upon being given his wallet are too subtle for any but the most accomplished actor to fake. Watch his expressions closely in the first two or three seconds. He is obviously taken aback. Only after he regains his composure does he ham it up to try to cover his chagrin. Mr. Perry does his job very well indeed!
      Perry's Arpege perfume story, on the other (slight of) hand, (Bennett, this pun's for you) was probably totally contrived just to mask the plugola mention. In any case, it was a delightful anecdote, at once short, self-deprecating ("Did I drop it at the airport, or did I, the pickpocket, have my own pocket picked?" he implied), and humorous. Whatever Arpege paid him, I'm certain they got their money's worth, because the story implied that not only was Arpege the choice of wealthy celebrities, but it was valuable enough for a pickpocket to steal. Anyone in advertising will tell you that a product mention that is casual, apparently spontaneous and unplanned, unexpected, and complimentary is worth a great deal. Today, there is a whole industry that specializes in product placement in movies. It really began with the placement of Reese's Pieces in 1982's "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial." Sales of the candy soared an incredible 80% in the weeks following the movie's release, and an industry was born! We accept product placement in this century, but in last century's more innocent age, the "What's My Line?" producers were understandably upset. Of course, a huge difference was that Steven Spielberg knew about the candy placement in "E.T.," whereas Goodson and Todman were in the dark about the Arpege placement.
      Social scientists Israel D. Nebenzhal and Eugene D. Jaffe published a paper on plugola in the May 1998 issue of "Journal of Business Ethics," in which they discussed a framework for determining the ethicality of "disguised and obtrusive advertising," based on the way messages are presented to audiences. - Lee McIntyre (2005)

      CONTESTANT Victor Perry is indeed heavy, and the panel did indeed comment on it. But the comments in general, and Arlene's comments in particular, were not derisive. They were almost admiring. In that innocent bygone era, obesity was not seen as a "defect" or something to be ashamed of. It was a sign of prosperity, perhaps even good health. Euphemisms that come to mind are stout, husky, and robust. We have similar quirks today. We'll comment on someone's thinness but not his fatness. ("You can never be too rich or too skinny.") It's okay to say, "Gee, you sure are tall," but it's not politically correct to say, "Gee, you sure are short." Who knows, perhaps in 50 years it will all be different. - Lee McIntyre, about whom you might say, "Gee, he sure is stout!" (2005)

      PLUGGING AWAY: Heavyset "Plugola Master" "pickpocket act" Victor G. Perry is a guest on this October 2, 1955 WML episode. As usual for this vintage of WML, many jokes were made in reference to his weight. Perry managed to sneak in a plug tonight for Arpege perfume. He is discussed in Gil Fates' 1978 WML book, but Gil gives him the pseudonym of "Mal Fuller." (See Fates' hardback book, pages 47-49.) One year later, Victor Perry is also a contestant on "I've Got A Secret" on the December 19, 1956 episode. In his book, Gil incorrectly states that Vic Perry appeared on only one G-T show. Gil fails to mention this WML episode. On IGAS, Vic also picked pockets (albeit with "planted" victims) and plugged numerous products. Fates said they were shocked and felt duped by the man, and never paid him his IGAS appearance fee. After his game tonight, just as he was getting ready to leave, Perry produced John's wallet that he had evidently picked right on the spot. It is unknown if this was planned in advance, or if John really was a pickpocket victim. At any rate, John takes the opportunity to ham it up and draws his coat tight around his chest. - Suzanne (2003)

      FAMOUS FATHER: Vic Perry's father, Victor W. Nixon, is a guest on WML EPISODE #336 of November 11, 1956. His occupation is shown as "Professional Mind Reader" and he is from Aldershot, Hampshire, England. Nixon's professional name is The Great Nixon. - Suzanne (2005)

      HE APPEARED ON TTTT ALSO: While tonight's contestant, Victor Perry, was indeed the "plugola" guy on the "I've Got A Secret" episode a year later, I recently discovered that while his little plugola scheme may have caused him to lose whatever fee he was getting on IGAS, the Goodson-Todman organization didn't hold a grudge long term. Mr. Perry actually appeared again on a Goodson-Todman show in 1970-1971 on the Garry Moore version of "To Tell The Truth" as a lead subject, but not in his job of pickpocket. Mark Goodson was even on the panel that day and after the game, Mr. Perry performed his pickpocket trick on Goodson. - Eric Paddon (2006)

      PLUGOLA: "Plugola" is defined as: Incidental advertising on radio or television that is not purchased like regular advertising. It is advertising or publicity that is intended for self-promotion and not paid for or underwritten by an independent sponsor. In this Victor Perry example, unbeknownst to the producers at WML, Perry would have prearranged with Arpege Perfume to give them "free" advertising during his WML guest spot. He "plugs" Arpege Perfume, and thus Arpege pays him a "plugging" or "payola" fee as a payment for the favorable mention of their product. The roots of the word come from a cross between "plug" and "ola" as in "payola." - Suzanne (2005)

    • REVIEW: This was not only a successful night for the panel, it also was a very fun one. Dorothy got things off to a good start when she correctly identified the first contestant as being the scoreboard operator from Ebbets Field. Of course, the very reason for his WML appearance was the fact that the World Series was about to begin. In the second game, guest panelist Robert Q. Lewis figured out that the rather large contestant from England was a pick pocket. Unfortunately, it was after the panel had used up all their questions and the cards had been flipped. The real fun came in the mystery guest round as Q-sie kept on insisting that he saw Lucy and Desi on TV earlier that day, and at one point even threatened to disqualify himself. However, he did make a guess and was half-right when he guessed that it was Lucy but didn't mention Desi. However, Arlene correctly identified the couple when she blurted out "It's both of them!" And so ended a rather fun night. - Sargebri (2005)

      The "Sunday Lucy Show" that Robert Q. Lewis referred to as airing at 6:00 "New York Time" were reruns from Lucy's previous seasons that CBS showed at that time, while a replacement summer series filled Lucy's regular Monday slot. Since the original prints of "I Love Lucy" contained former sponsor Philip Morris ads, new animated opening and closing titles were created for this run. Then, after "I Love Lucy" became "The Lucy/Desi Comedy Hour," CBS reran the final 13 "I Love Lucy" episodes under the title "Lucy in Connecticut," again with new animated openings. - Garrison Skunk (2005)

      This episode of WML, along with a handful of single episodes of other 1950s game shows such as "I've Got a Secret," "Masquerade Party" and "Who Do You Trust?" and the hour-long televised radio pilot of Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" were aired weekends in 2001 on New Jersey PBS station WNJN, complete with their original vintage commercials. - Garrison Skunk (2005)

      I LOVE LUCY! Since the World Series was in session in New York, to start out the mystery guest round questioning, Dorothy asks, "Are you Duke Snider?" Of course, the answer is "no." Robert tries to disqualify himself since he said he felt that he knew who the guest was, and that he'd seen her earlier today on television. The panel urges him to guess, and he says, "The world's greatest comedienne, Lucille Ball." John then "cheats" a bit and gives Robert a "no" since the guests are actually both Lucy and Desi. Finally, at the start of Bennett's turn with $35 won, Arlene blurts out, "It's BOTH of them!" Laughter follows! During the after-game chat, Lucy makes light of Desi's Cuban pronunciation of "Swedish" as "Swidish," in describing the accent she used for her disguised low voice. John announces that tomorrow night is the start of Lucy's new season of "I Love Lucy," which was their classic 1951-1957 television series. Desi says that they both love New York. They depart John's desk and shake hands with the panel. Their entire time on stage is a little over six minutes. - Suzanne (2005)

      The mystery guest round segment only of this episode is included on an 83-minute 1989 "Goodtimes Video" compilation titled "Lucy's Lost Episodes" which is available on both VHS and DVD. Other "lost" appearances include 1954 and 1956 sketches from Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town," a 1956 sketch from "The Bob Hope Show," a 1960 Westinghouse/Desilu Studios Promotion, movie outtakes, home movies, bloopers and a 1955 commercial for Squeeze Comb Lilt Home Permanent featuring both Lucy and Desi. - Suzanne (2005)

      Tidbits: During the introductions, Arlene holds up the soon-to-be-released What's My Line? board game manufactured by Lowell Toy Company in 1955. - Suzanne (2005)

      Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Robert Q. Lewis, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf. Fred Allen had the night off.

  • Allusions

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