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What's My Line?

Season 9 Episode 14


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Dec 01, 1957 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
3 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


Game 1: Mr. Robert Wutherspoon - "Mayor of Inverness, Scotland" (salaried; the panel is blindfolded because the chief magistrate is dressed in kilts and a full uniform with his office regalia; the regular questioning format is used; the elderly Lord Provost is in America on a goodwill visit to promote Scotland tourism to the American and Canadian Scots; he talks at length, almost 90 seconds, about seeing the Loch Ness Monster in person; from the borough of Inverness, Scotland)

Game 2: James A. Sperre - "Street Cleaner" (self-employed; he contracts privately with the residents; from Elmira, New York)

Game 3: Errol Flynn (6/20/1909 - 10/14/1959) (as Mystery Guest)


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)

    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (0)

    • QUOTES (0)

    • NOTES (5)

      • FLIP REPORT: Tonight, John did not increase any dollar amounts won by flipping cards for any of the contestants. - agent_0042 (2008)

      • (1) "WML?" SPONSOR AND PANEL WATCH: This evening, the main sponsor is the Remington "Rollectric" shaver. And this was Martin Gabel's first "WML?" appearance since EPISODE #371 of July 14, 1957; his position as a rotating guest panelist was once again secure in the wake of Ernie Kovacs' short-lived run on the panel.
        (2) BAD PUN ALERT: After Arlene -- who, due to her eyepatch, seemed to be on her way to becoming the "Hathaway lady" -- mentioned that Bennett came out of his interview on what she called "The Mike Wallace Inquisition" without any scars, Mr. Cerf told her that there were "no scars, but plenty of cigarettes." For Bennett, a pipe smoker, the "scars" reference was undoubtedly a play on the word "cigars."
        (3) ERROL FLYNN: Given the reference to Bennett's appearance on "The Mike Wallace Interview" at the start of tonight's show, it was an ironic coincidence that on this night of nights, Mr. Flynn appeared as mystery guest -- as he had made his only guest panelist appearance on the infamous EPISODE #364 of May 26, 1957, on which a proposed mystery guest spot for Mr. Wallace was scuttled due to moderator John Daly's intransigent opposition. Instead, Sammy Davis, Jr. was substituted as mystery guest at the last minute. (Even more ironic, Mr. Flynn's lower-third overlay for his mystery guest appearance tonight was set in the same "last-minute" font as had been used for Mr. Davis' appearance over seven months before.) At the time of this episode, Mr. Flynn had already appeared as "Mike Campbell" in the 1957 motion picture "The Sun Also Rises," and was a few months away from starring as the late "Great Profile," John Barrymore, in the 1958 biopic "Too Much Too Soon." It was nearly two years from this evening's "WML?" installment that Mr. Flynn's many years of fast living had caught up with him, as he passed away from a heart attack on October 14, 1959 at age 50. Had he lived a bit longer, Mr. Flynn may well have ended up on the same Dorothy Kilgallen "enemies list" as Jack Paar, due to the fact that Errol, towards the end of his life, had become a staunch supporter of Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution and considered Mr. Castro a close personal friend.
        (4) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: For the first time since the introduction of new art card graphics on EPISODE #386 of October 27, 1957, the complete production crew credits are shown from start to finish. All this made no difference to GSN, however, who on their December 3, 2008 airing of this episode, carried on as usual with their gut-wrenching, mind-numbing, back-breaking "crunching" of the screen.
        (5) "THE WHOLE TRUTH" - FROM (NEAR) THE BEGINNING: Following the December 3, 2008 airing of tonight's show, GSN ran the third edition of "To Tell the Truth" which was originally telecast on January 1, 1957. The host, as will remain in place until the cancellation of the CBS daytime edition in 1968, was Bud Collyer, while the panel on this episode was assembled as Polly Bergen, John Cameron Swayze, Hildy Parks and Dick Van Dyke. The first game featured former postmaster and judo expert Myra Sheldon and two impostors, and the second game featured Tom Joseph (a member of the Texas state legislature at the time of this "TTTT" episode) and two impostors. In the early years of "TTTT's" run, the panel was assembled at stage left (to the viewer's right side) in the manner of "I've Got a Secret," while the contestants and their impostors were at stage right (to the viewer's left side), as per the original set design of Carl Kent; Mr. Collyer and his desk were positioned at center stage for the whole of the show's CBS run. It wasn't until the early 1960's, with a revised set design by Nelson Baumé, that the placement of the panelists and the contestants would be reversed. - W-B (2008)


        The previous evening, on November 30, 1957, Bennett appeared on "The Mike Wallace Interview" and defended several topics, including "What's My Line?" What follows is a partial transcript of the interview, detailing what Bennett said about his participation on the series. - Stan16mm (2008)

        WALLACE: Do you watch quiz shows and panel shows?

        CERF: Well, I participated in "What's My Line?," and I watch others, once in a while, to see just how far they are encroaching on our territory (CHUCKLES).

        WALLACE: But you don't think that, this is quite seriously now, that you don't think that the panel shows, let us say, are adding much to the sum of human intelligence, are you?

        CERF: They're fun. "To Tell the Truth" is a fun show. "Twenty-One" is a fun show. I like to watch them once in a while.

        WALLACE: Bennett, in a very real sense, you are an intellectual figure in America. You are a lecturer, columnist, anthologist, the president of Random House, one of the biggest book publishing firms in the world. Why does a man of your stature, and I put this to you very sensibly, with your dissatisfaction with television's mediocrity which you have stated, to some extent, and I think you're a little reluctant to state what you really believe. Why did you lend yourself for seven years to "What's My Line?," a television parlor game? What, what, what do you get out of it?

        CERF: You stacked that question a bit, Mike.

        WALLACE: Alright.

        CERF: I don't think that television is necessarily mediocre. I think there are a lot of very good shows on the air, and I think they'll be more as time goes on. I'm very, very much in favor with television.

        WALLACE: Well, I'm in favor with television too, but I think you'd agree that...

        CERF: I think, I think, it's become fashionable for the snobbish egghead today to make fun of television. I've heard many people, boast, "I wouldn't have a television set in my house." Well, these people are fools.

        WALLACE: I agree.

        CERF: They miss one or two very good shows every night.

        WALLACE: That is correct.

        CERF: Now you ask me why I go on "What's My Line?" once a week?

        WALLACE: Uh-hum.

        CERF: Well, there are several extremely good answers to that. One is, I'm sort of a ham. I wouldn't be here with you if I wasn't. I like being on television, it's fun for me. Second, it pays very well, helps to take care of that place we have up in Mount Kisco. I wouldn't be able to hobnob with Arlene Francis at Mount Kisco and Josh Logan and Gilbert Kahn, unless I had this extra income. You don't get it out of book publishing.

        WALLACE: Well, out of the column, and lecturing and book publishing and books that you have published to your own, I dare say that even without your... considerable fee on What's My Line?, the Cerf family would eat. It would not hold.

        CERF: I would say that the main reason is that I am a ham, I love to do it. I love to lecture.

        WALLACE: Bennett, let me cite something, you say you love to lecture, all right, let me cite something you yourself said recently and I quote from The Chicago Tribune of September 17th of this year, "Bennett Cerf," quote, "Bennett Cerf flew into Chicago to speak before the executive club last week. He berated TV for its sameness. He said: "TV sameness has destroyed many things, such as the American urge toward independent thought." End quote, John Finke, Chicago Tribune.

        CERF: Yes, I think that I wrote a note to John Finke, that I thought he had stated it much more strongly than I had. I did say that I thought there were many, too many westerns on the air, and many, too many imitations of the $64,000 Question. And I did say that I hoped that as the year went on, some of the newer ideas would be given a chance.

        WALLACE: Well now, tell me this: You talk about the American urge toward independent thought; can you tell me one single independent thought expressed on "What's My Line?" in the past seven years?

        CERF: Good Lord! That's not the kind of show it is. It's a pleasant show. I think it owes its success to the fact that we have pleasant group. I think John Daly does a superb job as moderator.

        WALLACE: So do I.

        CERF: He's articulate, he's intelligent. A fellow on a cable car in San Francisco, one of the fellows who pulled the plug, you know, that kept it on the rail, saw me one day on the car and said: "Oh gee! Now I won't be able to go on "What's My Line?" You've seen me," and I promised I wouldn't remember him.

        WALLACE: Bennett, I must confess...

        CERF: And I said, why do you watch this? I had to ask, and he said: "My wife and I like to hear good English spoken." Well, that was very gratifying.

        WALLACE: That's true, that's true. I imagine the sponsors of "What's My Line?" will feel that they've made a real contribution, then, to raising the cultural level of America. I must confess, Bennett, I watch it virtually every Sunday night for the same reason that everybody else does.

        CERF: It's not cultural, it's fun.

        WALLACE: Yeah.

        CERF: A pleasant pass time.

        WALLACE: And, let's go back to your ham motive, which you, which is, a self-confessed one. Again, The Chicago Tribune, July 7th quotes you as saying: "Television, I love it. Everything that happened before television lumped together, never caused folks to turn on a street to stare at me, or waitresses to ask for autographs." Bennett, why is being stopped on a street or stared at, asked for your autograph, so important to you?

        CERF: It isn't terribly important, it's pleasant though. I think anybody who says it isn't, is not quite telling the truth. I've seen lots of movie stars complain about the autograph hunters. But if you try to find some special exit for them, whereby they can miss the autograph hunters, they don't talk to you for the rest of the evening.

        WALLACE: (LAUGHS) And you confess that you have the same kind of yearning in you that the motion picture star has?

        CERF: I think everybody's got it in them. It's my theory that we're all hams a little bit under the surface. You get at it in a different way with different people.

        WALLACE: In a sense you're the poor man's egghead.

        CERF: Well, take a college professor; you give him an honorary degree and a cap and gown, that's the way he hams it up. You make a business man, chamber of the board and give him a key to the private bathroom, that's his way of getting fun.

        WALLACE: Uh-hum.

        CERF: I like to be recognized by people, it's fun.


        UPDATE: This full 30-minute interview has now been posted in video form at the following URL. - Suzanne (2008)


      • A TALE OF SCOTLAND AND IRELAND: A great moment on this show happens when Arlene tries to figure out what town in Scotland the first contestant is mayor of and states, "I wonder what the population of Dublin is!" Of course, Dublin is in Ireland and it prompted a great laugh from the audience! - ymike673 (2005)

        REVIEW: After the previous week's debacle, the panel had a pretty decent night. In the first game, the panel was blindfolded due to the fact that the first contestant, the mayor of Inverness, Scotland, came out in full Scottish regalia, a plaid kilt and a heavy chain worn around his neck and shoulders. However, once he started speaking, the panel quickly guessed where he was from and it was only a matter of time until Arlene guessed who he was. It also was very humorous when Arlene accidentally said that Mr. Wutherspoon was the mayor of Dublin, which of course is in Ireland. Luckily for her, her loving husband Martin was right there to make the save and correctly said he was from Inverness. After the game, the mayor related a rather humorous story of his close encounter with Nessie, the legendary Loch Ness Monster. In the second game, the panel pretty much was put through the wringer by the street cleaner. Of course, there was a small controversy when he said he was self-employed, but he did clarify things when he mentioned that he was a private contractor due to the fact that his hometown of Elmira, New York had no street cleaning service. He explained that he only cleans the streets, he doesn't collect the city's garbage. In the mystery guest round, former guest panelist Errol Flynn had the panel going with his rather humorous answers, but Bennett was able to correctly guess who he was, especially after he asked if Flynn was ever on the panel, which he was. For the second week in a row, there was no time left for a fourth game. - Sargebri (2005)

      • ARLENE'S EYEPATCH INCIDENT #3 of 4: Arlene is wearing one black eye patch on her right eye. In addition, she wears dark glasses at the end of the show during the good nights. Bennett mentioned that Arlene's eye was painful for her. At another point, Arlene used the word "disease" in connection to her ailing eye. In her 1978 autobiography, Arlene explains her third eyepatch: (she accidently says it's her left eye though) "And a third time, I had a maid who came in one night with a very severe case of shingles. A short time later, I was playing in "Pal Joey" in Denver, and I developed a horrendous pain in my left eye. I rushed to a local doctor who examined it very carefully and couldn't find any foreign matter there to account for the pain. With a thoughtful look on his face he said, 'By any chance have you been around anyone with shingles?' I couldn't even remember at first, but when I did and told him about the maid, he said yes, that was it, I had herpes in my eye. Excruciating!" In spite of her discomfort, the gracious and unstoppable Arlene Francis smiled and made us believe she was enjoying herself! What a lady! Arlene will have one more eyepatch incident in May 1960. Her previous incidents were in September 1952 and February 1953. - Suzanne (2003)

        ALL EYEPATCH INCIDENTS: Notes to each incident can be found on the guides to to following episodes. - Suzanne (2008)

        ARLENE'S EYEPATCH INCIDENT #1 of 4: EPISODE #119 of September, 7, 1952
        ARLENE'S EYEPATCH INCIDENT #2 of 4: EPISODE #140 of February 1, 1953
        ARLENE'S EYEPATCH INCIDENT #3 of 4: EPISODE #391 of December 1, 1957
        ARLENE'S EYEPATCH INCIDENT #4 of 4: EPISODE #515 of May 29, 1960


        Hooray! Dorothy is wearing her "non-scary" blindfold again! She looked especially lovely this evening. Dorothy's question to the Mayor of Inverness after his Loch Ness Monster story was so funny! She asked him, "Mr. Mayor, are you sure you're not over here representing the famous Scotch brewing industry?" Poor, sweet Arlene! First it's her sprained ankle a few weeks back, and now she's wearing an eyepatch. I must say, even donning the eyewear, she looked stunning. And hey, how 'bout those Roy Orbison glasses at the end? Errol Flynn is almost painful to watch at this stage of his career. This was a highly entertaining episode all around! - fiveninegal (2003)


        Tidbits: Dorothy explains to us that Martin's hair is longer than usual because he is performing in a reenactment of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates. - Suzanne (2005)

        Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Martin Gabel, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf.

    • ALLUSIONS (0)