What's My Line?

Season 7 Episode 50


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Aug 12, 1956 on CBS
out of 10
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Episode Summary


Game 1: CBS Newscasters - Charles Collingwood, Walter Cronkite, Douglas Edwards, Eric Sevareid and Robert Trout - "CBS Convention News Correspondents" (as Mystery Guest CBS News Team; the panel was blindfolded but the regular questioning format was used; salaried; Cronkite sat by John and the remaining four men stood behind the desk; John explained that they are all old colleagues of his from his CBS days, but now jokingly called them his enemies because he reports for ABC News)

Charles Collingwood (6/4/1917 - 10/3/1985)
Walter Cronkite (11/4/1916 - 7/17/2009)
Douglas Edwards (7/14/1917 - 10/13/1990)
Eric Sevareid (11/26/1912 - 7/9/1992)
Robert Trout (10/15/1909 - 11/14/2000)

Game 2: Merrill L. Connally (4/9/1921 - 9/4/2001) - "Peanut Farmer" (self-employed; he is also a county judge and a delegate to the convention; tall; more notes below; from Floresville, TX)

Game 3: Perle Mesta (10/12/1882 - 3/16/1975) (as Mystery Guest #2)

Game 4: Victor Milazzo - "Makes Political Campaign Buttons" (self-employed; John holds up a button Milazzo made that says 'Relax'; from Chicago, IL)

Who was the Episode MVP ?

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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)

    Charles Collingwood (II)

    Charles Collingwood (II)

    Mystery Guest Team

    Guest Star

    Walter Cronkite

    Walter Cronkite

    Mystery Guest Team

    Guest Star

    Douglas Edwards

    Douglas Edwards

    Mystery Guest Team

    Guest Star

    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (0)

    • QUOTES (0)

    • NOTES (5)

      • BUTTON MAKER: Victor Milazzo owns several patents dealing with campaign buttons. - exapno (2008)



        FLIP REPORT: John ended the game for the final contestant at five down (six down if the answer to Arlene's question of "Can you sit on it?" is counted as a "no.") Time had run out, which historically meant that the contestant won the full prize by default. In this instance, however, John forgot to signify the full prize by flipping over the remaining cards to show $50. Perhaps Mr. Daly was distracted by the task of showing Arlene one of the contestant's buttons, which read "Relax." Most likely, the contestant did win the full prize. - agent_0042 (2008)

        PLANT CONFUSION: Following last week's animal confusion, the biological uncertainty continues. The second contestant describes his product, peanuts, as "strictly a vegetable" and his line eventually stumps the panel. The peanut, however, is a species in the "legume" family. The plants develop flowers, and after pollination, the fruit develops into a legume containing up to 4 seeds, which makes its way underground to mature. - agent_0042 (2008)

      • (1) "WML?" SPONSOR AND PANEL WATCH: The panel is pre-seated at the beginning of this episode, which is sponsored by Helene Curtis, in spite of the Remington Rand controversy.
        (2) "MY KIND OF TOWN": This special edition of "WML?," and the only "on-the-road" episode to feature the regular panel of Dorothy Kilgallen, Arlene Francis and Bennett Cerf, originated from the studios of CBS's Chicago owned-and-operated station, WBBM-TV (Channel 2), at 630 North McClurg Court, Chicago, Illinois. The station had moved to those studios earlier in 1956, and remained there for 52 years. In 1960, four years after tonight's show, the first nationally televised debate between Presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon originated from the WBBM studios. In the 1970's and 1980's, a newsroom-studio was built on the grounds for WBBM's evening newscast, which made a household name of Bill Kurtis (whose most famous co-anchor was Walter Jacobson, who later went to WFLD, Channel 32 for several years). In addition, Columbia Records, which was then owned by CBS, had recording studios on the 2nd floor of 630 N. McClurg through the mid-1970's. Among the more famous recordings to have been made there included Major Lance's two 1963 "Chicago Soul" hits, "The Monkey Time" (OKeh 4-7175) and "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um" (OKeh 4-7187); Jackie Wilson's last big hit, "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" (Brunswick 55436, 1967); and "one-hit wonders" The Ides of March's "Vehicle" (Warner Bros.-Seven Arts 7378, 1970). WBBM radio (780 AM and 96.3 FM) moved out of the McClurg Court studios in 2006 and relocated to Two Prudential Plaza; the TV station remained at McClurg Court until September 22, 2008, when they fully moved into new studios at 22 West Washington Street (aka 33 North Dearborn Street), part of the massive 108 North State Street complex (aka Block 37). The new studios were built specifically for production in digital-based high-definition television (HDTV), which replaces the analogue-based NTSC standard on February 17, 2009.
        (3) MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE CONVENTION: The 1956 Democratic National Convention was also witness to the birth of one of the most famous TV news teams in the history of the medium. For NBC's coverage of the convention, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were brought together for the first time to anchor the coverage. They also anchored coverage of the Republican National Convention that was held from August 20 to 23, 1956 in San Francisco. Huntley and Brinkley received rave reviews for their work, and on October 29, 1956, "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" debuted, replacing prior anchor John Cameron Swayze and the "Camel News Caravan." It was slow going for the new anchor team at first, but in 1957, Texaco sponsored the news broadcast for the next year, and by 1958 Huntley and Brinkley achieved ratings parity with CBS's Douglas Edwards. ("WML?'s" own panel moderator, John Charles Daly, ran a poor third as ABC's news anchor the whole time.) After the 1960 Presidential conventions, NBC and Huntley-Brinkley zoomed to the top of the network news ratings heap, leading to years of upheaval for CBS News, including the replacement of Douglas Edwards with Walter Cronkite on the "CBS Evening News" in 1962; the replacement of Cronkite as anchor of the 1964 Democratic Convention coverage with Roger Mudd and tonight's co-mystery guest, Robert Trout; and the appointment of Fred W. Friendly (Edward R. Murrow's former producer) as CBS News President from 1964 to 1966. Huntley and Brinkley remained on top until 1967, for a variety of reasons including the AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) strike where Huntley anchored but Brinkley walked the picket lines; Cronkite's association with the space program, an issue that neither Huntley nor Brinkley had much interest in; and the refusal of NBC's then-parent, RCA, to fund NBC News at a level comparable to CBS's funding of its news division. Even so, the race remained a photo finish until the end of "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" on July 31, 1970. After Huntley's retirement, which led to NBC's newscast being renamed "NBC Nightly News," Cronkite zoomed way ahead in the ratings and stayed there until his own retirement in 1981.
        (4) TEAM COVERAGE: Two of the CBS News correspondents who were part of the first mystery guest team, Eric Sevareid and Charles Collingwood, were among the initial group of "Murrow's Boys" who were hired by former "WML?" mystery guest Edward R. Murrow in 1939 and 1940, respectively, prior to World War II. Douglas Edwards, who anchored CBS's evening newscast from 1948 to 1962, was a late "Murrow's Boys" hire. The one who preceded everyone at the network was Robert Trout. He started at CBS in 1932, and was instrumental in launching Murrow's career as a broadcaster in 1935. Later, Mr. Trout was anchor of the early-evening local newscast on WCBS-TV (Channel 2) in New York, until 1965. After Mr. Edwards was replaced as CBS's evening news anchor, he handled the late evening local newscast on WCBS-TV until 1964. Both men were replaced in their respective time slots, in the respective periods, by Jim Jensen, who remained the face and voice of Channel 2's newscasts into the early to mid-1990's. Mr. Edwards also did CBS radio news updates, as well as a 5-minute midday television news update, until his retirement from CBS in 1988. Mr. Sevareid became a familiar face and voice for his commentaries on the "CBS Evening News" from 1961 until his retirement in 1977. As for Charles Collingwood, he replaced Murrow as host of "Person to Person" in 1959 and remained in that capacity until the show was cancelled in 1961. That gig, while high-profile and lucrative, so adversely affected Collingwood's reputation as a newsman that he had to lobby the network to allow him to cover such important assignments of the later 1960's as the Vietnam War.
        (5) GSN AIRING TALLY: GSN aired this special episode on March 30, 2003, May 13, 2005 and September 26, 2008.
        (6) "WML?" OVERLAY FONT WATCH: A cornucopia of typefaces was used for the overlays of the various people who appeared on the show tonight. The overlay for the CBS News correspondents was set in a "last-minute" font that appears local to the graphics department of WBBM-TV, while Mrs. Perle Mesta's overlay, despite her being a last-minute substitute mystery guest, was set in Franklin Gothic Extra Condensed (another font used by WBBM in those days). Only the two regular contestants' overlays were typeset in the usual Futura Demi Bold font now associated with "WML?"
        (7) "WML?" ANNOUNCER AND CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: The announcer for tonight's show was one of the staff announcers of WBBM-TV, who was not heard in any previous or subsequent "WML?" edition. After the American Airlines plug, the end credits -- whose transitions were more primitive compared with what was in CBS's New York studios -- went no further than the art card for executive producer Gil Fates. In contrast to the 2003 and 2005 airings, GSN's September 26, 2008 airing of this episode was plagued by its relentless (and merciless) "crunching" of the end credits.
        (8) THE END OF AN ERA (AND THEN SOME) ON "TNTS": Following the September 26, 2008 airing of tonight's show, GSN ran the February 2, 1954 edition of "The Name's the Same," hosted by Robert Q. Lewis, with the panel of Gene Rayburn, Joan Alexander and Bill Stern. This was to be the last "TNTS" episode to have a three-panel setup, as well as Mr. Stern's final appearance on the show. The celebrity guest was Merle Oberon, who would later be a mystery guest on "WML?" EPISODE #229 of October 17, 1954 -- an episode on which, ironically enough, Mr. Lewis was a guest panelist. The first contestants on this "TNTS" edition were two ladies who shared the same names as funnymen Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, who had been "WML?" mystery guests on the mostly-lost EPISODE #191 of January 24, 1954 that aired only nine days prior. - W-B (2005 & 2008)

      • WELCOME TO CHICAGO!!! As part of the festivities surrounding the Democratic National Convention, John and the panel travelled to Chicago for a very special edition of WML. Joining the panel for this occasion was college professor, former game show host and dictionary author Dr. Bergen Evans, who did a fairly good job this particular evening. However, the hot one was Chicago's own Dorothy Mae Kilgallen. In the first game, Dolly Mae correctly identified the first guests as CBS's broadcasting team for the convention. After the game, "Uncle Walter" and the CBS crew - and John, who would be handling ABC's coverage - took time to playfully rib each other and jokingly warned each other not to get any scoops. In the second game, the panel was totally stumped by Mr. Connally, who was a peanut farmer by trade, but was in town as part of the Texas delegation to the convention. In the mystery guest round, Dorothy correctly identified "Hostess With the Mostest" Perle Mesta, who was in town to host one of the charitable parties that would be taking place during the convention. In the final game, the panel ran out of time, so the political campaign button maker won the full prize by default. - Sargebri (2005)

        Merrill Connally, the guest in game two, is the brother of John B. Connally. (John Connally served as the governor of Texas from 1963-1969. He also served under both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and was wounded when President Kennedy was assassinated.) Merrill Connally had a twenty-year acting career and has a page on IMDB featuring roles in movies such as 1977's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and 1991's "Rush." He passed away in 2001. - Suzanne (2005)

        Perle Mesta will be hosting a fund-raising party on Tuesday night. We also learn that her life story will be portrayed next year on "Playhouse 90" in an episode aptly called "The Hostess with the Mostest." It will air on March 21, 1957 and the role of Perle will be played by Shirley Booth. - Suzanne (2005)

        Victor Milazzo is not the same guest who made political campaign buttons who appeared twice on WML. The man who appeared twice, on EPISODE #104 of May 25, 1952 and again on EPISODE #635 of October 21, 1962, was Emanuel Ress, who owned the Emress Specialty Company. On Emanuel's 1962 appearance, he gave John and the panel buttons personalized with their 1952 photos. - Suzanne (2005)

      • John Daly wins his second Peabody Award in the spring of 1957 for his coverage of the 1956 National Conventions. In the future, he will win one more. Information from the Peabody Awards website is below. - Suzanne (2005)

        Year: 1956
        Title: ABC Television
        Institutional Award for Television News Coverage of the National Political Conventions
        Producing Organizations: ABC Television & John Charles Daly
        City/State: New York, New York
        Last summer, the American Broadcasting Company, with department head John Daly and a carefully picked team, covered the Democratic and Republican national conventions. The result was a perfect example of how an important news event should be brought home to a television audience. Without pyrotechnics or irrelevant diversions, reporting from the floor of each convention instead of in elaborate studios behind the scenes, Daly and his lieutenants, both in front of the cameras and behind them, did precisely the jobs that had been assigned to them. The Peabody Committee salutes them individually and collectively, with a special nod to the big brass at ABC for recognizing a good thing when they saw it on their screens.

      • More on the non-mystery guest, Harry Truman: At first blush, dwking31's story about MacArthur putting pressure on the producers to quash plans to have Truman on the show sounds like rumor and innuendo. However, Internet research lends credence. MacArthur was indeed chairman of Remington Rand at the time. Also discovered was the fact that Truman did indeed fire MacArthur. From Spartacus: "In April 1951, Truman removed General Douglas MacArthur from his command of the United Nations forces in Korea. McCarthy called for Truman to be impeached and suggested that the president was drunk when he made the decision to fire MacArthur." - Lee McIntyre (2005)

        WML ON THE ROAD: Over its 17.5 year run, only two episodes of WML were produced away from New York. The first was tonight's EPISODE #323 on August 12, 1956 from Chicago, Illinois. The second was EPISODE #397 on January 12, 1958 from Hollywood, California. - Suzanne (2005)

        NO STALKERS, PLEASE: During game four, Arlene Francis freely announced her home address on the air: 32 E. 64th Street, New York, NY. These were definitely more innocent times. - Suzanne (2005)

        ABOUT THE ENDING CREDITS: The transitions between ending credits looked different on this episode. That's because they were pictures of the credit boards back in New York, photographed onto 35mm slides. The change from one slide to another was not a smooth one, because the transition was made by an old fashioned slide changer they used to have in schools for lectures. Between each change, the empty screen is seen. We didn't hear it, but trust me, the operator was hearing a "ka-chunk" sound at every screen change. Also, they were poorly made slides and the Doty cartoon characters looked dirty. Some real dust on them could be clearly made out as well. - stopette (2005)

        MYSTERY GUEST FLAP: There is an interesting sidelight to this WML from Chicago. John Daly was in Chicago to cover the Democratic National Convention, and it was decided to do the show from there. The mystery guest was supposed to be former President Harry Truman. However, the staff decided to check with Remington Rand, one of WML sponsors. The Chairman of the Board of Remington Rand was General Douglas MacArthur, whom Truman had fired. Apparently, MacArthur made it clear that Remington Rand would withdraw its sponsorship if Truman appeared, so Perle Mesta, the Washington socialite known as the "hostess with the mostess," was recruited to be the mystery guest at the last minute. - dwking31 (2005)

        Tidbits: Welcome to the Windy City! This episode broadcast from Chicago, IL, where the 1956 Democratic National Convention was taking place. This episode looked nearly identical to the New York shows, because both the panel's desk and John's desk traveled with them to Chicago. The major difference was in the sound quality, because their voices seemed to have more of an echo, as if they were in a larger venue. - Suzanne (2005)

        Guest panelist Doctor Bergen Evans taught courses in English literature for over 40 years at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. From 1951-1956 he also hosted the game show "Down You Go" on which Bennett Cerf's wife Phyllis was a panelist. He is the author of "A Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage" published by Random House in 1957. - Suzanne (2005)

        Bergen Evans (9/19/1904 - 2/4/1978)

        Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Bergen Evans, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf.

    • ALLUSIONS (0)