What's My Line?

Season 9 Episode 10


Aired Sunday 10:30 PM Nov 03, 1957 on CBS



  • Trivia

  • Quotes

    • Dorothy Kilgallen: (expressing a wish that will not be fulfilled) And now, we reluctantly say farewell to the gentleman who is about to come here on my left. He's, uh, going to make a safari to some interesting places, starting with Las Vegas and Hollywood. And we hope he'll be back with us in a few months, Ernie Kovacs.

  • Notes

    • FLIP REPORT: John flipped the remaining cards for the final contestant at four down because time ran out. The panel came very close on this one. They figured out that this contestant was a doctor, but were unable to narrow it down to the more specific line of "dentist." - agent_0042 (2008)

      MORE ABOUT THE DEPARTURE OF ERNIE KOVACS: Gil Fates mentions in 1978 book titled What's My Line? that Ernie Kovacs had been offered a permanent spot on the panel. He states that Kovacs "brought the same innovative brilliance to our panel that he used with such devastating comic effect on his own television show," and added that "Ernie didn't want to tie himself down at that point in a burgeoning career." Additionally, Gil wrote, after departing from the panel, Kovacs "went to California to work and live... until 1962 when he wrapped his station wagon around a utility pole on Sunset Boulevard one rainy night and killed himself." - agent_0042 (2009)

      ERNIE KOVACS: See the notes to EPISODE #375 of August 11, 1957 for more details about Ernie's being hired as a regular panelist. - Suzanne (2008)

    • MORE ABOUT THE CAMEL CIGARETTES BILLBOARD: In the first game, Arlene mentions the Camel billboard that Mr. Leigh designed. This billboard is unique because it constantly blows smoke rings which then drift across the street.

      Here is a link to a picture of the billboard:


      And here is a vintage video, showing the billboard in action:


      A television program from the History Channel's "Modern Marvels" series was recently aired ("Modern Marvels: Times Square") that discussed Times Square and the various advertising boards. The show discussed this Camel billboard in particular, explaining that the smoke rings were made of steam. Unfortunately, neither of the images above show good rings, but the TV program showed a clip where several perfect rings were formed and stayed cohesive most of the way across the street. Obviously, weather conditions would affect the travel of the rings. - cattaur (2009)

    • (1) "WML?" SPONSOR WATCH: This evening's main sponsor is Remington's "Rollectric" shaver.
      (2) END OF THE ERNIE KOVACS ERA (OR, DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOUR CIGAR AS YOU LEAVE): While Dorothy, during the intros, mentioned that panelist Ernie Kovacs would be traveling around Las Vegas and Hollywood and that she hoped he would come back within a few months, in fact, this was not only the humorist and television pioneer's last episode as a panelist, but also his very last "WML?" appearance altogether. He had been on the show a total of twelve times, ten on the panel and two as a mystery guest. As mentioned in the notes to EPISODE #375 of August 11, 1957, only Mr. Kovacs' first panel appearance was categorized as a guest panelist, while he was counted by executive producer Gil Fates as a regular panelist for the last nine, including tonight. It is with Ernie's departure from "WML?" that the panel seat previously occupied by the likes of Hal Block, Steve Allen and Fred Allen is never permanently filled, with this seat remaining a rotating selection of guest panelists for the remaining nine years and ten months of the show's CBS run. It was also in this year of 1957 that Mr. Kovacs up and moved to California, which would be his main residence and base of operations for the remaining four years, two months and ten days of his life. But while Steverino made occasional "old home week" appearances as a guest panelist, mystery guest, and even a contestant at one point -- even after he and his lovely wife, Jayne Meadows, moved to California beginning in 1959 -- Ernie never again appeared on "WML?" in any capacity, not even for the special West Coast EPISODE #397 of January 12, 1958 which was telecast from CBS Television City in Hollywood, California.
      (3) MORE ON ERNIE KOVACS: From 1959 to 1961, Mr. Kovacs hosted a game show called "Take a Good Look" which ran on the ABC network. There was a peripheral link to Goodson-Todman on this game show, not only because of Mr. Kovacs, but also due to the presence of Carl Reiner, Hans Conreid and Cesar Romero on the panel, and Peter Arnell as one of the executive producers. Mr. Arnell had been involved with G-T's "The Name's the Same" throughout its 1951-1955 run, as an associate producer all through the 1951-1954 Robert Q. Lewis era, and then as executive producer during its final year on the air and the rotation of hosts (Dennis James; Bob and Ray; and Clifton Fadiman). Mr. Reiner and Mr. Conreid had each appeared at different times on the panel of "TNTS," and Mr. Romero was a recurring guest panelist on "WML?" "Take a Good Look" marked several turning points for Mr. Kovacs: It began an association with ABC that lasted until his tragic death in 1962; it began an association with the makers of Dutch Masters cigars, for which he made a series of commercials that are highly regarded to this day (ironically, the brand he smoked in real life was Havana cigars); and it marked the beginning of a working relationship with two actors, Bobby Lauher and Jolene Brand, who became part of Ernie's "stock company" on his 1961-1962 series of comedy specials for ABC. Miss Brand later married producer George Schlatter, who went on to co-produce the 1968-1973 series "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" which cited Mr. Kovacs' brand of humor as among their main influences.
      (4) DOUGLAS LEIGH: For several decades, Mr. Leigh, along with the Artkraft-Strauss Sign Corporation, defined glitz and glamour up and down Times Square, with the various electronic billboards he designed and they constructed. He maintained his presence along the "Great White Way" up to the late 1970's, by which time Times Square's reputation was at a very low ebb, and 12 of the 14 signs he owned were empty. In 1979, Mr. Leigh sold all 14 signs along Times Square to Van Wagner Outdoor Advertising, which has remained a presence along "the Deuce" (as the area was nicknamed over the years) to this day.
      (5) JACK LEMMON: While this was Ernie Kovacs' final "WML?" appearance, his co-star in "Operation Mad Ball" and "Bell, Book and Candle," Jack Lemmon, is making the first of a total of eight appearances -- four, including tonight, as mystery guest, and the other four as a guest panelist. In fact, his first appearance as guest panelist was on the special West Coast EPISODE #397 of January 12, 1958, which originated from Hollywood, California -- and which also featured another "Operation Mad Ball" co-star, Mickey Rooney, making his only guest panelist appearance on "WML?" (As a side note, Jimmy Stewart's appearance in "Bell, Book and Candle," which also co-starred Kim Novak, came after they starred in Alfred Hitchcock's thriller "Vertigo." Miss Novak had made her only "WML?" appearance on EPISODE #296 of February 5, 1956, and Mr. Stewart would appear on EPISODE #687 of November 10, 1963.)
      (6) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: Tonight's end credit sequence only goes up to executive producer Gil Fates' art card. And while families across the country were enjoying savory Thanksgiving dinner leftovers around the time of GSN's November 29, 2008 airing of this episode, the kind of leftovers the cable and satellite channel served up were of the "stale as day-old bread" variety, by (dis)courtesy of their carving up their usual indigestion-inducing "crunching" of the screen, to the eternal repulsion of the viewing audience.
      (7) SPEAKING OF "TNTS": Following the November 29, 2008 airing of tonight's show, GSN ran the August 30, 1955 edition of "The Name's the Same," hosted by Clifton Fadiman, with the panel of Roger Price, Audrey Meadows, Mike Wallace and Joan Alexander, and celebrity guest Eddie Albert. This "TNTS" episode, along with "WML?" EPISODE #804 of February 20, 1966, had been aired by GSN on June 4, 2005 as a tribute to Mr. Albert, who passed away on May 27, 2005 at age 99. - W-B (2008)

    • THE HISTORY OF "Ham and X" - (A PUN ON HAM & EGGS): On EPISODE #320 on July 22, 1956, Paul Winchell first used this joke (via his dummy, Jerry Mahoney) to describe Mr. Daly and "Mr. X." For the first time tonight, Bennett reprises this pun that he must have remembered from over a year ago. It won't be the last time we hear it, as Bennett will use it about 4 more times over the run of "WML?" - Suzanne (2005)

      REVIEW: After the previous week's poor performance, the panel did slightly better this evening as they had a .500 record. In the first game, the panel was totally stumped by famed sign designer Douglas Leigh, who signed in as "X" for fear that his name would be recognized. It also was decided that his hometown would not be revealed because that also might have tipped off the panel. In any case, they were stumped. However, the blow was eased somewhat when it was announced that he was donating his winnings to the Correspondents Fund of the Overseas Press Club. The panel had better luck in the second game when Arlene correctly guessed that the contestant from Las Vegas issued wedding licenses. In fact, she issued a license to Bing Crosby and Kathryn Grant. In the mystery guest round, after Bennett opened the door for her, Dorothy correctly guessed that it was Jack Lemmon. Jack had just finished filming "Operation Mad Ball" in which he co-starred with Ernie as well as Mickey Rooney and the new Mrs. Bing Crosby. In the final game, the panel ran out of time, so the very attractive lady dentist from Ontario, Canada won the full prize by default. - Sargebri (2005)

      MR. & MRS. CROSBY: As was mentioned in the second game, Bing Crosby had just married Kathryn Grant in Las Vegas. That marriage lasted from October 24, 1957 until Bing's death from a heart attack in Madrid, Spain while playing golf on October 14, 1977, just ten days before what would have been their 20th wedding anniversary. Their marriage produced three children, Harry, Mary and Nathaniel. In fact, Mary would gain fame as an actress and her most famous role was that of "Kristin Shepard" on "Dallas." Of course, it was Kristin who shot the human oil slick "J.R. Ewing" in one of the most famous events in television history. - Sargebri (2005)

      KOVACS & LEMMON AS CO-STARS: As was mentioned in the mystery guest round, Ernie Kovacs and Jack Lemmon worked together in the film "Operation Mad Ball." However, this wouldn't be the last time they would work together. The very next year, the two of them would appear in a film that could almost be seen as a precursor to the sitcom "Bewitched." The 1958 movie was "Bell, Book and Candle" with Jack playing warlock "Nicky Holroyd" and Ernie playing anthropologist "Sidney Redlitch." The film starred Kim Novak as "Nicky's" sister "Gillian" and in what would be his last role as a romantic lead, Jimmy Stewart as publisher "Shepherd Henderson." - Sargebri (2005)

    • Okay, some of those Bennett Cerf puns have to go! "Ham and X"? Cheers to the cameramen for getting an extreme close-up of John's very un-amused face! There was a great quote from Arlene while the panel was conversing, trying to make a guess: "I didn't hear all the questions and answers, I'm just here having a good time!" - fiveninegal (2003)

      The first contestant, Douglas Leigh, signed in as "Mr. X" since the panel would have recognized his name. He was a well-known sign designer who lit up Broadway and several of Manhattan's skyscrapers with amazing electrical signs and displays. His work included the peak of the Empire State Building, the elegant Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and One Times Square. Bennett produced one of his famous puns when he said to Mr. Daly, "The two of you remind me of a dish. Ham and X." - Suzanne (2003)

      Tidbits: This episode contains yet another relatively rare reference to Gil Fates during the mystery guest round. - Suzanne (2005)

      Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Ernie Kovacs, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf.

  • Allusions