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Regular Panelist (1950-1967)
Regular Panelist (1951-1967)
Regular Panelist (1950-1965)
FLIP REPORT: In the night's first game, John flipped the remaining cards for the first contestant at seven down. Dorothy Kilgallen actually correctly identified this contestant's line, but the cards went over because the contestant came "all the way from Los Angeles," and also, most likely, because she was cute. In the night's mystery challenger round, John threw over four cards at just one down after Bennett finally managed to get a "no" to his luncheon question. He then flipped the remaining cards at six down once the game was over and Debbie Reynolds was identified because she had asked to donate her winnings to the Thalians. All mystery challengers were paid an appearance fee of $500 that was undisclosed to the general public, but it is unclear whether it was this fee, or the $50 amount depicted by the cards, that was donated to charity. - agent_0042 (2009)
(1) "WML?" SPONSOR AND ANNOUNCER WATCH: This episode is sponsored by Sunbeam electric appliances. And this is the third straight episode in this stretch where announcer Hal Simms used the "award-winning 'What's My Line?' panel" variation of the intro, after a few months of alternating between this and the "award-winning panel of 'What's My Line?'" wording.
(2) DEBBIE REYNOLDS: The triple-threat singer/actress/dancer was in one other film that came out later in 1959, "The Gazebo." As for "Say One for Me," which starred Bing Crosby (one of several major stars never to have appeared on "WML?") and also featured onetime "WML?" mystery guest Robert Wagner and Ray Walston (whose only "WML?" appearance was a cameo), it was named one of "The Fifty Worst Films of All Time" in the 1978 book of the same name by Harry Medved and Randy Dreyfuss. Miss Reynolds' "The Gazebo" co-star, Glenn Ford, also never appeared on "WML?," but was a guest panelist on the February 5, 1957 edition of "To Tell the Truth."
(3) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: After the United Airlines plug, the end credits stop short after the art card slide crediting associate producers Bob Bach and Frances Trocaine. While GSN's February 17, 2009 airing of this episode coincided with the original deadline for broadcast TV stations to shut off their analog TV system and go all-digital (a deadline which has since been extended to June 12, 2009), the cable and satellite channel's low-blow "crunching" of the screen was one more headache the viewing audience wished they wouldn't have to endure.
(4) The February 17, 2009 airing of tonight's show by GSN was followed by the September 30, 1958 edition of "To Tell the Truth," hosted by Bud Collyer, with the panel this week assembled as Polly Bergen, famous songwriter Arthur Schwartz, Kitty Carlisle and Hy Gardner. This was the first of two "TTTT" appearances by Mr. Schwartz; both were far more fortunate in their kinescopes being preserved than the composer's lone "WML?" guest panelist appearance on the now-lost EPISODE #87 of January 27, 1952. The first game featured Monsieur Michel Poulenc (a teenaged bellboy on board the cruise ship "Liberté," who was training to be a ship steward) and two impostors; the second game featured Dolly Turley (wife of New York Yankees pitcher Bob Turley) and two impostors; and the third game featured Dr. James A. Oliver (director of the Bronx Zoo) and two impostors. This "TTTT" episode was the first to be sponsored by Rise shaving cream, which marked the end of Geritol's alternating sponsorship of the program; the ending credits (which saw Joyce Weiss and Ted Behr join the program staff) were followed by a brief slide for Arrid antiperspirant, which was still seen through GSN's aforementioned noxious and aromatic "crunching" procedure. - W-B (2009)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BENNETT!!! This was a very special night as the panel serenaded their anchor with a nice chorus of "Happy Birthday," which actually caused Bennett to blush. This pretty much seemed to set the tone for the night as they not only had a perfecto, but it was also highlighted by the first game as well as a classic mystery guest appearance by Debbie Reynolds. Things got rolling in the first game when the rather sexy blond contestant from Los Angeles via Italy walked out. What really made it fun was the fact that John had an extremely long conference with her. However, once they got down to business, it was Dorothy who correctly guessed that Lia di Leo was a sculptress. In fact, Miss Di Leo had some very famous clients ranging from Sammy Davis, Jr. to George Jessel. In the second game, Arlene correctly figured out that the contestant made bed warmers. However, it was the birthday boy that opened the door for her, as Bennett was able to figure out that the product had something to do with the area of the bed that was above the mattress. The real highlight came when "America's Sweetheart" Debbie Reynolds hit the stage. She had the panel - as well as the audience - in stitches with her best Eva Gabor impression. In fact, the exchange she had with Bennett was really priceless and definitely was one of the classic moments in the history of the show. However, Arlene saw through Debbie and identified her right away. Debbie was on the show to promote not only her current 1959 picture, "The Mating Game," in which she co-starred with WML's favorite "loveable loser" Tony Randall, but she also took time to promote two other 1959 films that she had worked on, "It Started with a Kiss" and "Say One for Me." The real capper on the evening came during the good nights when Dolly Mae planted a nice kiss on Bennett's cheek to wish him a happy early birthday. This was proof that even though the game wins belonged to the distaff members of the panel, the night truly belonged to Bennett. - Sargebri (2005)
LOVE TRIANGLE: You wouldn't know it by her performance, but at the time of Debbie Reynolds' appearance on the show this evening, she had just ended her supposedly fairy tale marriage to singer Eddie Fisher. The marriage ended when Eddie began his scandalous affair with Elizabeth Taylor shortly after the airplane crash death of Taylor's husband, former WML guest panelist Mike Todd. Debbie and Eddie, who were close friends of Liz and Mike, went to Liz to pay their condolences when Mike died. During this time, sparks began to fly between Liz and Eddie, and they began a passionate love affair. As soon as the affair became public knowledge, the public took Debbie's side and turned on Eddie with a vengeance and his career took a nosedive. However, things went from bad to worse for Eddie when Liz dumped him four years later for Richard Burton during the filming of "Cleopatra." - Sargebri (2005)
JOHN'S UNINTENTIONAL 3-WAY PUN: During the first game, John had just completed a conference with the statuesque sculptor Lia di Leo. The panel, as usual, draws attention to his tête-à-tête with a beautiful woman. John, who usually ascribes males' attraction to beauty as having something to do with spring, comments, "Boy, spring is busting out all over!" "Busting out," of course, could mean "breaking out," or "busting" could have referred to what the sculptor sculpts - busts of people - or it could have referred to the nicely endowed contestant herself. It's too bad that nobody - not even Bennett - seemed to think of any meaning other than the first one. - Lee McIntyre (2005)
THIS EPISODE WAS GENIUS! From the intro with the panel singing "Happy Birthday" to Bennett, to the final farewell - A++++++!!!!! This show reminds you what fabulous television is all about!!
WHO LOVES ARLENE? I DO, I DO, I DO!!!
Two great come-backs from Miss Francis tonight during the contestants.
1) The Sculptor
DK: "Would it make a nice birthday present for Bennett?" (yes) "Does it cost more than $10?" (yes) "More than $100?" (yes)
AF: "Well, you are definitely NOT getting one for your birthday, Bennett!!"
2) The Bed Warmer
BC: "Is this product found on top of the bed?"
AF: "If it's found under the bed, I think we'd all better go!!" (insert rousing applause from audience)
During the first guest, Dorothy had a wonderfully successful and lengthy run. After she figured out what the contestant did, John (who had called for a rather long conference with the attractive gal - that's a clue, by the way, for what's coming next...) congratulated her. Dorothy says, "Thank you, John. And as a reward for my brilliance (terrible that she's so modest, isn't it?), would you answer me a question?" John replies, "Mmmmm Hmmmm..." DK continues, "Is Mrs. Daly outside the reach of the television area tonight?" To which JD replies, "I've been sitting here quietly thinking it's probably a good idea - but I'm afraid not!!"
CARRIE FISHER - BE PROUD OF YOUR MOMMA!!!
My award for "Most Entertaining Mystery Guest of 1959" goes to: DEBBIE REYNOLDS!!! And to celebrate, here is the transcript of her appearance! To get in the mood, every time you read something Miss Reynolds is saying, imagine her using the ABSOLUTE GREATEST Eva (or Zsa Zsa) Gabor voice and talking twice her normal speed. Okay, here we go!
EA: "Are you connected with the field of sports?"
DR: "Well, sweetie, I can't really understand you, do you have an accent? You know I can't understand what you say. I think it's sweet of you to say the boys think about me, dahhhling, it's wonderful...no...I'm not a boy."
JD: "And to answer your question...no! 1 down and 9 to go, Miss Kilgallen."
DK: "I've forgotten Eamonn's question!"
JD: "Are you connected with the field of sports was the question."
DR: "Ohhh, no sweetheart, no."
DK: "Uhh, may I assume that your very, very good Gabor/Hungarian accent is phony and that you're really a clean-cut American girl?"
DR: "No, sweetheart, that's wonderful! Isn't she sweet to say things like that? I think she's mahhvelous. Oh, mother would be so happy with you, sweetheart. No, not really. Yes, you're right actually."
BC: "Uhh, I'm just curious to know whether you and I have recently had an opportunity to sit together at the same luncheon table?"
DR: "Well, sweetheart, I sit with so many. What do you say dahhling? Have we had lunch together? Well, I don't know, you know, it's been so many years since I had lunch, sweetheart, where was it?"
BC: "Is it yes or no?" (he is cracking up by now)
DR: "For what, sweetheart, did I have lunch either with you? I get so confused with this manner. Speak up and speak clearly, dahhling. I don't understand what he said, you know. Am I a girl? And I'm not interested in sports. I can't understand what he said, dahhling. He said, am I in sports?" (the theatre, by now, is in hysterics - as is the panel AND John!!)
BC: (hangs head while shaking it 'no') "You're worse than John Daly!!" (JD's response to that was worth the price of admission!!)
JD: (laughing) "Do you wanna try again, Bennett?"
BC: "Yes. I would like to know whether recently you and I sat at the same luncheon table in...California."
DR: (cutting his last 2 words off) "But, dahhling, how can you let this get around town...it's so...isn't that something, he tells on me like this. You know, you should...when you have a date, sweetheart, you don't let everybody in the whole world know about it, you know, like this - you don't tell everybody we have a luncheon date, sweetheart, you must keep this a secret - your wife is right inside there (points towards either the audience or a camera) and it's your birthday!"
JD: "Bennett, I feel the only way for you to get off the hook is to tell us who you think we have here...whom we have here, rather"
DR: (suddenly switching to a very Bronxish accent) "Who...whom...who do ya think I is?"
BC: (in pure desperation by now) "I want an answer to my question, that's all I want!!"
DR: "NO!!" (she starts to playfully flip a card)
JD: "NO! We'll throw over a lot of them! 6 down and 4 to go, Miss Francis!"
All of a sudden, catching DK in the act, DR exclaims (back to her Gabor): "Now don't whisper!! Sweetheart, she was whispering with this man over there...I saw it!"
JD: "There's been no call for a conference. I must ask that you observe strictly the rules!"
DK: "It's his birthday and I just was being chummy."
DR: "It's his birthday? I know, sweetheart, we all try to forget this now a days when our birthdays come, it's terrible. What? Is somebody speaking now without me? I'm getting very nervous here, dahhling. Am I alone with my sports?"
AF: "I'm just waiting for lunch to be over!!" (HUGE laugh and applause from audience at that!)
JD: "All right, let's get this back on the track, Miss Francis, the ball is yours."
AF: "I want to know if this particular beauty has recently been in the newspapers with a member of the royal family of Belgium?"
DR: "Well, sweetheart, I'm not from Belgium, no dahhling. I simply am not from Belgium. I've never been to Belgium. No, I want to very much go to Belgium. It's very too far away, don't you think that...you know..."
At this point everyone is cracking up - and Arlene overlaps with Debbie so I can't make out everything DR is saying...but here's the gist of it...
AF: "I think that I've got the wrong country!!"
DR: (overlapping AF) "...once I went to Russia (suddenly using a Russian accent) I was very cold in Russia...I don't...(now lapsing into a British dialect) I do want to go to England, I like people over there, you know...you can go there...I wasn't with...yes, I know the king."
JD: "I haven't had so much fun in years! I've only had to work for 5 minutes!!"
AF: "What became of us all??"
DR: "Wha...whaa...what was the question?" (honestly lost at this point! Very funny!)
AF: "The question was, 'are you in sports'?!?!" (as you can imagine, this brings the house down!!) "I think I know who it is, but I'm not going to guess!"
DR: (Gabor again) "You mean the sports...what kind of sport dahhling?"
JD: "Ohhh, who do you think we have with us?"
AF: " I think it is the very talented, attractive young lady who has recently made many charming pictures...and who is about to do another...and who has recently been photographed with a black-glassed eyeglass king.. whose name is Debbie Reynolds."
JD: (overlapping AF during her last 5 words) "Nobody can get down to what they want to say tonight!"
After everyone is unmasked, Arlene exclaims, "You were really marvelous. I would have liked for you to have stayed on!" (I'm with you AF! Debbie was BRILLIANT!!) DR explained that she actually got lessons from Eva!
CUTE DOROTHY MOMENT OF THE NIGHT
After saying good night, Dorothy leans over and gives Bennett a "Happy Birthday" kiss near his ear. The audience "ooooohhhhed" at that! It was very sweet
DEFINITELY A MUST SEE EPISODE! - fiveninegal (2003)
Tidbits: The panel sings the "Happy Birthday" song to Bennett Cerf. He was born on May 25, 1898 and will be 61 years old tomorrow! - Suzanne (2003)
Panel: Arlene Francis, Eamonn Andrews, Dorothy Kilgallen, Bennett Cerf.
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