What's My Line?

Season 7 Episode 11

EPISODE #284

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Aired Daily 12:00 AM Nov 13, 1955 on CBS
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EPISODE #284
AIRED:
Game 1: Mr. Thor Thors (11/26/1903 - 1/11/1965) - "Ambassador to United States From Iceland" (salaried; he is also a United Nations ambassador; originally from Iceland; currently from Washington, D.C.; Dorothy guessed his line)

Game 2: Miss Betsy Sherman - "Bill Collector" (salaried; she works for National Credit Exchange in her hometown of Los Angeles, CA; she stumped the panel)

Game 3: Phil Silvers (5/11/1911 - 11/1/1985) (as Mystery Guest) He signed in as "Sgt. Bilko" He was guessed by the entire panel in unison, and then was quite chatty after his game.
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    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

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    • TRIVIA (0)

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    • NOTES (5)

      • FLIP REPORT: John flipped the sole remaining card for the second contestant at nine down. The panel had discovered the general area of her occupation, but they never figured out this contestant's exact line. - agent_0042 (2008)

        WALK-BY WATCH: In an unusual move, John dispensed with the opening walk-by segment for the first contestant. Perhaps John felt that something in the contestant's manner or close-up appearance might give away something to the panel. Or perhaps John wanted to make sure there was ample time for the mystery guest, Phil Silvers. In any case, the panel quickly identified the Iceland Ambassador's line. - agent_0042 (2008)

        A FORD IN THE PANEL'S FUTURE? -- During the introductions, Fred joked that Arlene "recently invented a new television quiz show" in which "the winner is going to get one share of Ford stock." Fred's comment was aimed at a very newsworthy item of the time, for in January of 1956 - just two months after this episode first aired - Ford Motor Company went public in what was then the largest and most highly anticipated initial public offering (IPO) of stock in U.S. history. Up until that time, all shares of the automaker were privately held by members of the Ford family. - BuzzDawg (2008)

      • (1) "WML?" SPONSOR WATCH: For this first show to present the curtain entrance as will be structured for the rest of "WML?'s" run -- a panelist entering the stage, beaming to the audience, then going to the position of the desk where he or she would be seated and introducing the next panelist, and so on up to Bennett's introduction of John who then takes his seat at his desk -- the main sponsor's panel desk billboard is presented as Remington electric shavers.
        (2) QUIP ON THE DRAW: In her introduction of Fred Allen, Dorothy Kilgallen mentioned that he would be wearing shoes "for the first time in several weeks, because Gino Prato just brought them back from Italy." Mr. Prato had been mentioned in EPISODE #276 of September 18, 1955 when Joe DiMaggio was the mystery guest. Fred, in his own introduction of Arlene Francis, noted that she was developing a TV quiz show that would dwarf "The $64,000 Question" and "The Big Surprise," in that the big prize was one share of Ford (Ford Motor Company) stock.
        (3) OVERLAY SCREEN WATCH: For the first contestant Thor Thors, his "Ambassador to United States from Iceland" overlay was set in the "last-minute" font, while the second contestant's and mystery guest Phil Silvers' respective overlays are set in the usual Kabel Heavy font.
        (4) "TEN-HUT!": While this would not be the last time that first-time mystery guest Phil Silvers would appear in costume as "Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko" in a "WML?" kinescope, it wasn't the last time that a mystery guest appeared as the character he was playing on television, either. Art Carney, in his first mystery guest appearance on EPISODE #207 of May 16, 1954, came garbed as his "Ed Norton" character from "The Honeymooners," while Jackie Gleason wore his "Ralph Kramden" bus driver's uniform while making his second "WML?" mystery guest appearance in the now-lost EPISODE #277 of September 25, 1955. This was Mr. Silvers' first extant mystery guest appearance; his very first in the program's history, on EPISODE #29 of December 17, 1950, no longer exists. Even so, his tally of five total appearances ties him with Bob Hope and The McGuire Sisters in terms of total mystery guest appearances within "WML?'s" 17.5-year run on CBS.
        (5) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: On some cable broadcasts, there were no end credits at all tonight, after the "WML?" title card and American Airlines travel arrangements plug were shown, at which point, the show cut off. However, on some satellite broadcasts, the vintage CBS eye logo could be briefly seen after the airline advertisement card. Even so, GSN still managed to find a way to disregard the sensibilities of their viewing audience via their incessantly intransigent "crunching" of the screen on the August 18, 2008 airing of this episode.
        (6) Following the August 18, 2008 airing of tonight's show, GSN repeated the April 28, 1953 edition of "The Name's the Same," hosted by Robert Q. Lewis. Peter Donald -- whose sole "WML?" appearance, as a guest panelist on EPISODE #70 of September 30, 1951, is today lost to history -- appeared on the panel on this "TNTS" episode, alongside Joan Alexander and Meredith Willson. Eva Gabor was the celebrity guest. In her segment, the person she would like to have been was Mickey Mantle. This was somewhat ironic, given Mr. Mantle's subsequent appearance on "TNTS" on May 26, 1953, four weeks from this episode, not to mention his "WML?" mystery guest spot on EPISODE #155 of May 17, 1953 - W-B (2008)

      • RARE STUDIO AUDIENCE SCREEN SHOT: John announces that the democrat governor-elect of Kentucky is in the audience, Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler. Two short studio audience screenshots are shown to the home viewers. In addition, John said that Happy Chandler was joined by his wife. Over the long history of "What's My Line?," the only other time we saw a camera shot of the studio audience was on EPISODE #192 of January 31, 1954, when Richard Widmark's co-star, Bella Darvi, was shown seated in the audience.- Suzanne (2005)

        HAPPY CHANDLER BACKGROUND: Prior to his appearance within the studio audience on this episode, A.B. "Happy" Chandler's main claim to fame had been serving as Commissioner of Baseball from 1945 to 1951. His most famous, or infamous, ruling as commissioner came in 1947 when he suspended Leo Durocher, then manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, for one year, in a culmination of a long battle between Durocher and Chandler over Durocher's reputed associations with the likes of actor George Raft and the late mobster Bugsy Siegel. The feud reached a fevered pitch after Larry MacPhail, who himself feuded with Durocher in the past and who by that time (1945-1947) had become general manager of the New York Yankees, had lured two of Durocher's coaches (one of whom was Chuck Dressen) away from the Dodgers, leading to charges and countercharges between MacPhail and Durocher that were printed in the "Brooklyn Eagle" newspaper. This was also during the period that Leo married actress Laraine Day. There was some speculation, in an account of this matter in Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo's 1985 book "The Baseball Hall of Shame," that Chandler's suspension of Durocher was carried out as a favor to MacPhail, who was instrumental in Chandler's having become commissioner. - W-B (2008)

        THE LOOK OF THINGS: Although not for the first time, the panel enters through the curtain tonight. John explains that the public wanted to see what the ladies were wearing. In two episodes, this will become a permanent format change. The very first curtain entrance occurred on EPISODE #229 of October 17, 1954. - Suzanne (2005)

        TECHNICAL DETAIL: In the audience shot of Happy Chandler, we can see one of the microphones used to pick up the sounds of audience reaction. It appears to be an RCA 77-DX ribbon microphone. That model was a workhorse of the broadcasting industry. Interestingly, whereas today audience mikes are suspended from the ceiling and are relatively far removed from individual audience members, this mike is on a floor stand and appears to be within three or four feet of the closest members. This same model microphone is used for each of the panelists and for John - you can occasionally see its rounded top appearing over the desk ledge. Additionally, when John leaves his desk to greet contestants, you'll sometimes see the shadow of an RCA 77-DX on a boom, which is hand operated to follow John and remain just out of camera view. The RCA 77-DX was made, of course, by RCA, Radio Corporation of America. RCA has corporate ties to one of CBS's biggest competitors, NBC, the National Broadcasting Company. NBC is the network to which participants are most often referring when they say that so-and-so is appearing "on another network." - Lee McIntyre (2005)

      • Phil Silvers appears in uniform as Sergeant Ernie Bilko to promote his hit new television series, "The Phil Silvers Show: You'll Never Get Rich." - Suzanne (2005)

        Dorothy gives us a new twist on her somewhat frequent "I'm dead" phrase when she mutters out of exasperation, "I couldn't be deader." - Suzanne (2005)

      • This is the first, but not the last, time Phil Silvers appears in character as Sgt. Bilko on a WML kinescope. On a later episode of WML, GSN once accidently showed a promo of Silvers as Bilko posting a notice on a bulletin board, stating a change in time for "You'll Never Get Rich," which was the original title of his 1955-1959 series later known as "The Phil Silvers Show." The vintage film clip could also be interpreted as a cigarette commercial, as Silvers lit up a Camel cigarette, the product of his show's sponsor, as he announced the change. - Garrison Skunk (2005)

        Tidbits: Simply Dashing! For this episode, the ladies' blindfolds have been made by the famous hat designer Lilly Dache. Daché was a recent mystery guest on EPISODE #273 of August 1955. Dorothy's mask was an all-floral model, while Arlene's featured two hearts (to match her necklace pendant) with arrows. - Suzanne (2005)

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

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