NOVELTY ENTREPRENEUR: On the net, photos can be seen of 1950s tubes of Don Poynter's "Genuine Scotch Whiskey Flavored Toothpaste, Six Proof" and his "Genuine Rye Whiskey Flavored Toothpaste, Six Proof." In later years, Poynter also invented such diverse items as "The Thing" coin box and "Uncle Fester's Mystery Light Bulb" which were both featured on "The Addams Family" TV show. See a Poynter interview below. - Suzanne (2005)
Novelty entrepreneur Don Poynter offers ways to get serious about being silly:
(Bennett Cerf puns with the title of a 1929 song, "I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All?")
Bennett Cerf: (to the final contestant, whose last name is pronounced TREE-ma) Mrs. Trema, do they ever sing to you, "You're a Trema, aren't we all?"
FLIP REPORT: John flipped the remaining cards for the final contestant at four down. Time had run out and John also wanted to get out of trying to answer the question of whether or not guest panelist John Cameron Swayze owned a set of the contestant's product, false teeth. - agent_0042 (2008)
(1) "WML?" SPONSOR WATCH: Tonight's main sponsor was Helene Curtis.
(2) JOHN CAMERON SWAYZE - PART I: At the time of his sole "WML?" appearance tonight, it had been more than a week since his run as anchor of NBC's nightly newscast was brought to an end. (Up to that point, the newscast was called the "Camel News Caravan," with alternate nights in his final year with the network called "Plymouth News Caravan.") Looking forward, NBC replaced Mr. Swayze with the bright new anchor duo of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. Mr. Swayze's run of seven years had been cut short after his network was beaten by Douglas Edwards of rival CBS in the network news ratings race. (ABC and its evening news anchor, "WML?'s" own John Charles Daly, finished dead last the whole time.) The future wristwatch pitchman was famous for his phrase "hopscotching the world for headlines," which by 1956 was deemed too corny and old hat, not to mention his breezy style having been considered too frivolous alongside Mr. Edwards' no-nonsense manner. Nearly six years later, though, in 1962, Mr. Edwards' run as CBS anchor was ended after being trounced over the past two years by "The Huntley-Brinkley Report." But in contrast to Mr. Swayze's long association with Timex, Mr. Edwards remained true to his news roots -- albeit confined to hourly radio news updates (including "The World Tonight") and the midday television "Newsbreak" -- up to his retirement in 1988. Gary Paul Gates' 1978 book "Air Time: The Inside Story of CBS News" spoke of a poignant exchange in the early 1970's between two former executives at the respective networks, speaking of how it was inevitable that these early anchors' runs ended the way they did, and at one point the ex-NBC producer said to his CBS counterpart, "Dammit, at least your guy [Edwards] had the grace and dignity to stay in the business. What I mean is, he didn't go out and become a (bleeping) watch salesman." With Mr. Swayze's appearance tonight, all three of the respective network news anchors who comprised the mid-1950's lineup of competitors have appeared on "WML?" (Mr. Edwards was part of a mystery guest team of CBS News correspondents on the special Chicago-based EPISODE #323 of August 12, 1956, and of course Mr. Daly "moderated" all but four editions of the original network "WML?" throughout its 17.5-year run). One of Mr. Swayze's two children, Cameron Swayze, has carried on in his father's original tradition, as a weekend news anchor at all-news station WCBS Newsradio 880 in New York. In addition, actor Patrick Swayze (of 1987's "Dirty Dancing" fame) is a distant cousin.
(3) JOHN CAMERON SWAYZE - PART II: Mr. Swayze's Timex commercials were a regular target for parody over the years. One example was in the 1974 paperback book "A MAD Look at TV," put out by the publishers of MAD Magazine. In their spoof, a man wearing a "Tymix" watch was subjected to all sorts of punishments and indignities -- but oddly, the watch itself was never even touched. At the end of this takeoff, in what could be delicately called "black humor," "Mr. Swayze" noted how the watch "took a licking and kept on ticking," but the wearer of the watch had died from his various tortures.
(4) As a side note about the network newscasts, it was in this month of November 1956 that CBS's "Douglas Edwards with the News" became the first nightly network newscast to air on videotape, for purposes of airing on the West Coast, as well as tape delay, for some affiliates (for many years, some CBS affiliate stations aired the newscast a half-hour after its original live transmission). This was a few months after the introduction of the first videotape machine, the Ampex VR-1000. It would be another three years before "WML?" began videotaping certain episodes in advance of airdate.
(5) ALL IN THE FAMILY: Jack O'Brian (1914-2000), television critic for the New York Journal-American, was a colleague of Dorothy's for many years; he had been a TV critic since 1950, the same year "WML?" first went on. In the early 1950's, it was Mr. O'Brian's hounding of CBS News correspondent Don Hollenbeck over purported Communist ties that ultimately led to Mr. Hollenbeck's 1954 suicide, as documented in the 2005 motion picture "Good Night, and Good Luck" (Mr. Hollenbeck was played in the movie by Ray Wise). Two years from tonight's show, in 1958, Mr. O'Brian's column called attention to the rigging of several TV quiz shows, most notably NBC's "Twenty-One." His articles were a factor in leading to a scandal that led to such programs being taken off the air en masse, and a few individuals, such as "Twenty-One's" host Jack Barry and his production partner, Dan Enright, being blacklisted from the medium for several years afterwards. In the 1970's and 1980's, Mr. O'Brian hosted a radio show on WOR in New York called "The Critic's Circle."
(6) MORE ON JACK O'BRIAN: Mr. O'Brian subsequently had the distinction of taking over Miss Kilgallen's "Voice of Broadway" column in the Journal-American within a few weeks of her tragic death on November 8, 1965. This was in contrast to "WML?" where Dorothy's seat was never permanently filled.
(7) BEATRICE LILLIE: This was the actress' first extant "WML?" appearance, as her first appearance on EPISODE #85 of January 13, 1952 no longer exists. Miss Lillie was part of the all-star cast that graced the 1956 film "Around the World in 80 Days."
(8) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: After the American Airlines plug, the end credits for tonight's show stopped short after executive producer Gil Fates' art card. And for GSN, on its October 8, 2008 airing of this episode, it was business as usual with their repugnant and repulsive "crunching" of the screen.
(9) Following the October 8, 2008 airing of tonight's show, GSN ran the May 4, 1954 edition of "The Name's the Same," with host Robert Q. Lewis, the panel of Arnold Stang, Bess Myerson, Gene Rayburn and Joan Alexander, and celebrity guest Marie McDonald -- another individual who died in the same year of 1965 as "WML?'s" Dorothy Kilgallen. - W-B (2008, updated 2009)
REVIEW: The panel did fairly well this episode. In the first game, Arlene made the correct identification of TV critic Jack O'Brian, who worked with Dorothy on the Journal-American staff. After the game, Arlene admitted sending a letter to him saying she loved him. It was probably in connection with a great review she must have received from him, possibly for her "Home" show. In the second game, the panel was totally stumped by Mr. Poynter, the inventor of the whiskey flavored toothpaste novelty. In the mystery guest round, Beatrice Lillie tried to fool the panel using a very deep voice. However, she slipped up and spoke in her rather distinctive voice and that provided the opening for Arlene to guess "Lady Peel." After the game, Beatrice treated them to a line from a Noel Coward song. The fun really picked up in the final game when the false teeth model hit the stage. The audience really laughed when guest panelist John Cameron Swayze asked if he had any. At that point, John flipped the cards to avoid an embarrassing situation and Mrs. Swift wound up winning the full prize by default. - Sargebri (2005)
HE TAKES A LICKING, BUT KEEPS ON TICKING!!! Guest panelist John Cameron Swayze did an okay job on the panel. His experience came from the fact that at this time, he was also a semi-regular panelist on another Goodson-Todman show. Swayze, of course, was one of the most respected journalists in America, but perhaps his biggest claim to fame was the series of commercials he did for the Timex Watch Company. In those ads, he would often demonstrate how a Timex watch kept working after being put through all kinds of torture tests. At the end of the ad, he would use the now classic phrase, "Timex, it takes a licking, but keeps on ticking. - Sargebri (2005)
WE'RE REALLY GOOD FRIENDS: John takes a moment to tell the public that he was just kidding last week when he ribbed Bennett, and that they are really good friends. This won't be the first time John will make this announcement on the air. As time goes by, Bennett's and John's jokes to each other grow more and more sarcastic. Naturally, the public writes in to ask if they are really mad at each other. Every now and again, John explains that all the kidding around is done in good spirits. - Suzanne (2005)
BEATRICE LILLIE (Lady Peel) was married to Sir Robert Peel from 1920 until his death in 1934. She met singer and actor John Philip Huck in 1948, and in spite of the fact that he was 28 years her junior, he became her manager and companion until she passed away in 1989. - Suzanne (2005)
Tidbits: Bennett has written and published a new humor book titled "The Life of the Party." At the end of the show, John urges the public to vote on election day Tuesday. - Suzanne (2005)
John Cameron Swayze (4/4/1906 - 8/15/1995)
Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, John Cameron Swayze, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf.
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