What's My Line?

Season 11 Episode 3


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Sep 20, 1959 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
11 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Game 1: Henry McFarland - "Jail Warden" (salaried; he bears a strong resemblance to Nikita Khrushchev; he works at the Hudson County Jail in New Jersey; from Jersey City, NJ)

Game 2: Miss Judy Grable (8/21/1925 - 5/9/2008) - "Professional Wrestler" (self-employed; she began her career at age 18 and has been wrestling for 5 years; her professional name was not given; as she exits, Groucho begins to arm wrestle with her; from Miami, Florida)

Game 3: Claudette Colbert (9/13/1903 - 7/30/1996) (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 (2)

      • (Groucho Marx grills the second contestant about her product, even though it has not yet been established whether she deals in a product or service -- when, in fact, she deals in a service.)

        Groucho Marx: Now, this product you manufacture, is that sold? Would you be apt to find this in the living or the, uh, dining room or the kitchen?
        John Daly: Well, you can't answer that question yes or no.
        Groucho Marx: Well, she must make something. A woman can't make a living just being a blonde. Although, I've heard of a few who have. (laughter and applause from audience)

      • Arlene Francis: (to the first contestant, a jail warden) Has a man like Groucho Marx ever come before you?
        John Daly: I... I'll ask you to withdraw that question, please. (loud laughter from audience) I'm not going to be put in the position where Groucho can sue me after this program; that's all I'm saying.
        Groucho Marx: No, I intend to sue you between the program. Is it up to me now?
        Arlene Francis: No. Not... It will be.

    • NOTES (4)

      • FLIP REPORT: In the night's second game, John flipped the remaining cards for the second contestant at four down because time was running short. The panel came reasonably close on this one, evidenced by the fact that just after the cards went over, Arlene asked if the contestant had anything to do with judo or athletics. In the night's mystery challenger round, John flipped the remaining cards for mystery guest Claudette Colbert at five down. All mystery challengers were paid an appearance fee of $500 that was undisclosed to the general public, regardless of the amount represented by the cards. The truth was, though, that Groucho Marx had already revealed the identity of the mystery guest when he saw her and said her name aloud while Miss Colbert was signing in. Groucho's microphone picked up his voice saying "Claudette Colbert" and it is audible over the audience applause. - agent_0042 (2009)

        (1) "WML?" SPONSOR, ANNOUNCER AND PANEL WATCH (OR, THE SECRET WORD IS "MAYHEM"): For this "wild and crazy" episode, which was in danger of morphing into either "You Bet Your Line" or "What's My Life?" (take your choice), Kellogg's claimed the main sponsor honors, and thus another opportunity to wish the "Best to You"; yet, given what ultimately transpired, tonight's edition snapped, crackled and popped many times over (in the spirit of one of the sponsor's numerous cereal brands, Rice Krispies). Meanwhile, announcer Hal Simms employed the "award-winning panel of 'What's My Line?'" variation of the intro, even though Arlene sat on the far end of the panel (to the viewer's left side). And this was the first of four appearances of "the one, the only" Groucho Marx on "WML?" He was one of only two performing Marx Brothers to have appeared on the show; Chico Marx was a mystery guest on the now-lost EPISODE #64 of August 19, 1951. The only one not to appear on "WML?" was the "silent" one, Harpo Marx. However, Harpo did make an appearance on NBC's "Today" show on May 3, 1961 to promote his autobiography, "Harpo Speaks." The person interviewing him was none other than "WML?'s" own panel moderator, John Charles Daly, who thus made appearances on all three networks over his long career. (Mr. Daly was substituting for Dave Garroway on that occasion, in the period before John Chancellor's short-lived run as host of that long-running morning institution commenced.) In spite of John's opening promise to give the panel and Groucho "a hard time," by the end of the show, it was Groucho who gave everyone else (including the contestants and mystery guest) a hard time.
        (2) INTRODUCTION NOTES (OR, "IT'S A COMMON WORD..."): As in his later guest panelist appearance on EPISODE #738 of November 15, 1964, Groucho wore a business suit and straight necktie (albeit arranged not so straight) tonight. But, unlike that future episode, tonight he wears no hat -- funny or otherwise. Immediately following Bennett's entry, Groucho quipped, "Sometimes known as Dorothy Kilgallen," which was along the lines of his introduction of Dolly Mae as "Mrs. Richard Kollmar, frequently known as Dorothy Kilgallen." Meanwhile, during Miss Kilgallen's introduction of Mr. Cerf, she mentioned the latest book he had published, Moss Hart's "Act One." Ironically, Mr. Hart's wife, "To Tell the Truth" panelist and "grande dame" Kitty Carlisle, had co-starred with Groucho and his brothers in the 1935 movie "A Night at the Opera."
        (3) GSN AIRDATE HISTORY: This highly memorable "WML?" edition has been aired by GSN in regular rotation on September 4, 2003; October 18, 2005; and March 6, 2009.
        (4) GROUCHO'S INFLUENCE: Elements of Groucho's humor (both visual and verbal) turned up everywhere over the decades, from Warner Brothers' "Looney Tunes" cartoons to "I Love Lucy," from the TV series "M*A*S*H" to "The Benny Hill Show," and other places in between. As just one example, one line of Mr. Marx's from the 1933 movie "Duck Soup," as addressed to the character of dancer "Vera Marcal" (played by Raquel Torres) was, "I could dance with you till the cows come home. On second thought, I'd rather dance with the cows till you come home" -- and these lines were adapted by Mr. Hill in one of his songs, "Go 'Round Again" (originally performed on his December 26, 1978 special, and later recorded for his posthumously-released 1992 CD "Benny Hill - The Best Of"), which he had performed while impersonating singer, songwriter and folk-rock pioneer Bob Dylan. As sung by Mr. Hill, the line went like this:

        "I tell you true, I could dance with you
        Till the cows come home, but then,
        I could dance with the cows, so please Miss Rose,
        Please let me go 'round again."

        (5) "WML?" OVERLAY FONT WATCH: While this episode went way off the charts due to Groucho's particular influence, practically the only constant thing was the overlay typesetting, which was all in the usual Futura Demi Bold.
        (6) CLAUDETTE COLBERT: This was the actress' second and final "WML?" appearance (she made no known appearances on the syndicated version). Besides "The Marriage-Go-Round," Mademoiselle Colbert appeared in a TV production of "The Bells of St. Mary's" which aired on CBS on October 27, 1959. In this remake of the 1945 Bing Crosby movie of the same name, Claudette played "Sister Mary Benedict"; also in this new version was occasional "WML?" guest panelist Robert Preston. It should be noted that the 1959 TV version was co-produced by former "WML?" guest panelist David Susskind. It was most likely the pronunciation of her surname that influenced comedian Stephen Colbert (of "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" fame, and of no relation to the actress) to use that pronunciation for his own surname.
        (7) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: In no small part due to Groucho's anarchic antics (which had led John to say good night for all the panel), the end credits (which, as is common during this period, followed the United Airlines plug) only went to director Franklin Heller's art card. Even with this small window of time, GSN's March 6, 2009 airing of this episode was plagued by the cable and satellite channel's "credits crunch" (which, in its own way, was every bit as disruptive as Groucho himself on this occasion) all the same.
        (8) BACK-TO-BACK "A NIGHT AT THE OPERA" CO-STARS (AND "MIDNIGHT" AS WELL): GSN's March 6, 2009 airing of tonight's show was followed by the June 23, 1959 edition of "To Tell the Truth," with host Bud Collyer and the panel of Jayne Meadows, Don Ameche (who co-starred with Claudette Colbert in the 1939 movie "Midnight"), Kitty Carlisle (Groucho's co-star in the 1935 film "A Night at the Opera") and Tom Poston. (Neither Miss Meadows nor Mr. Poston worked with either the guest panelist or mystery guest of "WML?" EPISODE #482.) The first game featured Milton Reynolds (who, in 1945, was the first person to successfully mass market the ballpoint pen in the United States; his affidavit claimed his Reynolds ballpoint pens could write underwater) and two impostors; the second game featured 15-year-old Kay Schuele (Elizabeth Katherine Schuele, who won the 1959 American Medical Association's national science fair award for her recipe for cinnamon-flavored "space cookies" that were made from algae, flour and other ingredients) and two impostors (both of whom were Mr. Ameche's two adopted daughters, Barbara and Cornelia); and the third game featured Gil C. Elroy (approximate spelling; a Romanian native and Holocaust survivor who had recently graduated summa cum laude from City College of New York) and two impostors. - W-B (2005, updated 2009)

      • GROUCHO AND ME: Groucho is promoting, by the way, his best-selling "autobiography," titled "GROUCHO AND ME." This book was published in 1959 by Bernard Geis & Associates, a new publishing house that Groucho had a small financial stake in, and whose offerings were distributed by Random House. And, can you imagine the men's dressing room before the show, with Groucho and Bennett trading quips? - exapno (2005)

        MOSS HART: During her introduction of Bennett, Dorothy mentioned the book "Act One," which was written by one of Bennett's closest friends, Moss Hart. Hart was married to a former co-star of Groucho's, the grand dame of "To Tell the Truth," Kitty Carlisle, who appeared in the classic Marx Brothers film "A Night at the Opera." - Sargebri (2005)

        REVIEW: Everything was quiet for all of 40 seconds and then all hell broke loose when The One, The Only, Groucho Marx hit the stage. Groucho pretty much had the audience in hysterics with his wild and raucous behavior and this definitely affected the panel, causing them to have a somewhat poor night, game wise. However, in the first game, Dorothy was able to compose herself long enough to correctly guess that the Nikita Khrushchev look-alike from New Jersey was actually the warden of a jail. In the second game, things really went wild as the very blond lady wrestler hit the stage. The panel never did figure out her occupation during the allotted time, but Arlene correctly guessed that she had something to do with Jiu-Jitsu or wrestling. Things really went wild in the mystery guest round when Groucho purposely put his mask on wrong and was disqualified for his antics. The panel bravely carried on, but unfortunately, the time ran out as the round ground on. As with the previous game, Arlene did correctly guess that the guest was screen legend Claudette Colbert, but her identification came after the time had run out. In fact, the show had run so long due to Groucho's disruptive behavior, that John had to say good night for the panel and himself as a whole. This fun evening definitely was one of the wildest episodes in the entire history of "What's My Line?" - Sargebri (2005)

        JUDY GRABLE: The second contestant of the night, Judy Grable, was one of the greatest women wrestlers in history. She was the World Women's Champion until 1956 when she was defeated by the woman who many consider the greatest lady wrestler of all time, The Fabulous Moolah. - Sargebri (2005)

        KEEP THE FOCUS ON GROUCHO: Regardless of whether the viewing public liked or disliked Groucho's disruptive behavior, it was apparent that not only did the producer and director know what they were getting, they were ready for him. Of the three cameras used, at least one of them was always trained on Groucho. On WML, you almost never see a "two-shot" (two panelists in one picture at the same time) during routine panel questioning of a guest, but in this episode, it happened again and again, and always included Groucho in the shot. The director absolutely was primed and ready to catch every quip Groucho made - and he almost never failed to have Groucho on camera when the outspoken comedian spoke. In fact, he often put a Groucho shot on line even when the comedian didn't speak - just in case. Also, during "regular" shows (any show without Groucho!), the audio engineer is kept busy, turning every panelist's microphone off unless the panelist is expected to say something. Often, when Bennett chimes in with some comment, his first second of speech is off-mike, picked up by the microphone of the panelist on his right. But tonight, Groucho's mike was live the entire time. That meant the audio engineer had been given special instructions to keep Groucho's mike hot. Oh yes, they knew what they were getting! And if we could look at the ratings for that night's show, back in September of 1959, I suspect we would see that they spiked, as friend phoned friend to say, "Guess who's on What's My Line? tonight?" Groucho was at the top of his game. It's pure Groucho, and WML certainly got its money's worth that night! - Lee McIntyre (2005)

        MORE ABOUT GROUCHO: News of Groucho Marx's death in 1977 opened to the public, many for the first time, the sadness of the comedian's later years. There was quite a legal brouhaha with his legal guardian over the disposition of his estate. He and his brothers, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo (before the movies, back in vaudeville days, brother Gummo was also part of the act) were hugely successful with such classic films as "The Cocoanuts" (1929), "Animal Crackers" (1930), "Monkey Business" (1931), "A Night at the Opera" (1935), "A Day at the Races" (1937), and countless others that are still shown on Turner Classic Movies from time to time. The Internet Movie Database credits him with two dozen films - many of them truly classics - between 1929 and 1970. In addition, he had guest appearances on practically every national TV variety show imaginable, from "The Popsicle Parade of Stars" in 1949 to Dinah Shore, to Jack Benny, to David Frost, to his final Johnny Carson appearance (he made several over the years) in 1973. Groucho was born Julius Henry Marx. In the words of the IMDB mini-biography written by John Nehrenz, "The bushy-browed, cigar-smoking, wisecracker with the painted on mustache and stooped walk was the leader of the Marx Brothers. With one-liners that were many times full of sexual innuendo, Groucho never used profanity in any of his performances, and said he never wanted to be known as a dirty comic. With a great love of music and singing, (the Marx Brothers started as a singing group), one of the things Groucho was best known for was his rendition of the song 'Lydia the Tattooed Lady.'" Always racy, always unpredictable, always in character! Long before, "Heeere's Johnny," George Fenneman, announcer/straightman on "You Bet Your Life," used to intone, "Heeere's Groucho!" Shortly after his death, his children, Arthur Marx and Melinda Marx, found a gag letter written by Groucho that stated that he wanted to be buried on top of Marilyn Monroe. - Lee McIntyre (2005)

      • Krushchev's visit indirectly caused Dorothy Kilgallen some troubles. Here is an excerpt from Lee Israel's 1979 book, titled "Kilgallen."

        ********* begin quote *********
        In 1959, the Journal-American dispatched their favorite girl reporter to cover the visit of Premier Khrushchev, his wife, and children to the United States. Khrushchev's mission was to last nine days, during which time he was scheduled to see President Eisenhower, address the United Nations on the balance of power, and stop over in several major American cities.
        With owner-driver Roosevelt Zanders at the wheel of the Rolls, Dorothy followed the Russian leader over the course of several days, beginning with his dawn touchdown at Andrews Air Force Base. She reported that the rotund Russian leader stuck out his tummy and waved at her.
        Dorothy, however, was more interested in Mrs. Khrushchev's avoirdupois. Dorothy had always characterized by couture. Her vehement anticommunism was most readily aggravated by the lackluster trappings of Marxism. Grandmotherly Nina Khrushchev became, therefore, a natural target for Dorothy's careless animosity.
        And so she wrote, on the second day of the state visit, with regard to Mrs. K:
        The grisliness of her attire amounts almost to a demonstration of piety... It would be difficult to find clothes comparable to hers in the waiting room of a New York employment agency for domestic help; in this decadent capitalistic republic, applicants for jobs as laundresses, chambermaids, and cooks usually are far more a la mode than Russia's first lady.
        Mrs. Khrushchev's blue-and-gray suit she called:
        dismal... wrinkled... at least four inches shorter at the hem than is currently correct... It had no point of view, right or wrong. It was just there like a home-made slip cover on a sofa.
        Her editors, themselves fierce cold-warriors, were obviously tickled pink, playing her captious copy under the banner headline:
        There were, alas, some unpredicted reactions. Reader mail was heavy, and it ran anti-Dorothy in the extreme. "Shirley," the pseudonymous Journal secretary, recalled that four typists were assigned to answer the indignant letters. Albany petitioned the Hearst hierarchy to rein in Dorothy's ad hominem attacks while the Russian first family visited New York. For perhaps the first time in Hearst history, Bill Hearst and and aide-de-camp Frank Conniff admitted for publication that they had permitted a staff person to overstep the limits of good taste.
        What was said to Dorothy is not clear. But that she was censured was obvious by the pettish defensiveness of her subsequent copy. After a reception for the Russian leader, she limited herself to: "His wife and daughters whipped out evening dresses." Further along in the story, she whined that Khrushchev's visit had "set usually clear-headed Americans to arguing whether international relations are harmed by describing them [the clothes of the Russian first family] in accurate detail. When Queen Elizabeth visited this country her attire was described stitch-by-stitch, silhouette-by-silhouette, hour-by-hour. And the proper English never got mad at us."
        Dorothy's troublesome brickbats were hurled in the Wednesday paper. That Saturday, in place of an apologia, the Journal devoted a good part of the editorial page to a conspicuous display of their angry reader mail.
        One Constant Reader opined:
        Her column on Mme. Khrushchev was not only in bad taste, but revolting to any American woman who places the big issues involved in the USSR Chairman's visit beyond the patterns of clothes, size, etc. It rebounds on all of us as provincial, snobbish people, and reacts most favorably to the maligned lady.
        "A new low," said another letter writer. And six Journal faithfuls co-signed an acerbic message that ended, "We are ashamed of Miss Kilgallen."
        Dorothy was accustomed to absolute fealty from her paper, to retaliation rather than capitulation. She was fully aware of the significance of the publication of the hostile reader mail. And since she had been encouraged by her editors to attack full throttle, she was now probably feeling doubly betrayed. Dorothy tendered her resignation.
        The Voice of Broadway did not appear until the following Monday.
        From the late fifties until her death, she grew more notorious than she had ever been popular. The zeitgeist was pervasive. And now, as if by some premonition of weakness, her enemies were emboldened.
        ********* end quote *********

      • As Claudette Colbert is walking on stage, you can clearly hear Groucho, off camera, say, "It's Claudette Colbert." He was fooling around with his mask and must have peeked. The rest of the panel had to have heard this but they played the game anyway as if they didn't know who the guest was. - markrosz (2003)

        Groucho Marx comes out and hugs Arlene and then Dorothy at beginning. Later, he sings a song about Jersey. For the mystery guest round, he wears his mask in an unusual way. - tv_shows (2003)

        Claudette Colbert promoted her Broadway play, "The Marriage-Go-Round," which ran for 431 total performances. She co-starred with Charles Boyer. - Suzanne (2003)

        You can probably call the Groucho shows the #1 all-time best "WML?" of the entire 876 telecast run. In addition to Groucho, Dorothy was still sparkling (that lasted until July of 1960), Arlene was never prettier, Bennett was Bennett, and when Daly loosened up and parked any sour feelings about his upcoming divorce, he could really make those scotches he'd downed at Toots Shor's prior to the show open him up. - WML Fan (2003)

        The first challenger, Henry McFarland, was a "Nikita Khrushchev look-alike" and many comments were made pointing this out. Groucho asked this contestant, "Are you a corrupt politician?" HA! There is no doubt that the WML producers chose this guest due to the fact that the "real" Nikita Khrushchev was currently visiting the United States from September 15 to 27, 1959. His wife, Nina Petrovna Khrushchev, also accompanied him on this historic visit. - Suzanne (2003)

        To start things off - Groucho introduces Dorothy as "Mrs. Richard Kollmar." I'm sure she loved that.
        After John's extended conference with the first contestant, Groucho quips, "You two were getting pretty chummy over there. You hardly know the man!" John, quick wit that he is, replies, "Actually, what I'm really hoping for is that before the evening's over I can fix it so that you will be chummy with our guest." Of course, the audience howled and applauded.
        In addition to being hilarious in general, all of Groucho's questions were non-sequitors! He literally just said the first thing that came to his mind. For example: "Are you a corrupt politician? Or am I being redundant?" LOL!!!
        In the middle of one of John's famous 3 minute answers, Groucho says, "You realize that no one's listening to you." This had everyone in the theatre roaring - most of all Mr. Daly!
        The absolute BEST part of the evening came when Groucho got Dorothy completely befuddled!!
        GM: "It's up to you Mrs. Kilgallen, errr, Miss Kilgallen."
        DK: "Miss Grable, are the men and women you come in contact with... are they grown up human beings?" (yes) "Now, would you say that you deal with more sex..."
        GM: "You think I'm the only one that's obsessed with that subject, huh? Oh boy, what a Freudian panel this is! If people would only talk!"
        After Dorothy (and the rest of the panel) gains composure:
        JD: "Uhh, Dorothy, before we pursue this subject any further..."
        DK: (interrupting with a laugh) "I don't want to pursue it any further!"

        THIS IS ONE WILD & CRAZY EPISODE! IT'S A KEEPER! Groucho Marx was a loose cannon! He spoke out of turn, disrupted the panel, asked goofy questions, spoke for other panel members, spoke for the contestant, and answered questions for the contestant! In short, he was a RIOT from start to finish! This wasn't "What's My Line?" tonight, it was the "Groucho Marx Show!" He had the panel members and John Daly laughing so hard that they were crying! I suppose Mr. Daly surmised from the start of the show that he was not going to be able to rein Groucho in, so he allowed him the leeway to create the total havoc that transpired! There were many double entendres that caused laughing, and at one point, Groucho said the 1950's era verboten word "hell" on television! There were so many funny facial expressions! This certainly was the "best" of WML for the viewing audience! - Suzanne (2003)

        Julius Henry (Groucho) Marx (10/2/1890 - 8/19/1977)

        Panel: Arlene Francis, Groucho Marx, Dorothy Kilgallen, Bennett Cerf.

    • ALLUSIONS (0)