What's My Line?

Season 1 Episode 5


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Apr 12, 1950 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
9 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary



Game 1: Arthur Eldridge - "Circus Chimpanzee Trainer" (salaried; he works for Ringling Brothers Circus, which we only find out about because Louis asks him; from Elgin, IL)

Game 2: Miss June Harbour (b. 1919) - "Lawyer" (salaried; she works for a small firm; from Long Island, NY)

Game 3: Elsa Maxwell (5/24/1881 - 11/1/1963) (as Mystery Guest)

Game 4: Walter Seidel - "Chimney Sweep" (salaried; from Brooklyn, NY)

A backup profession was listed in Gil Fates' notes for a song plugger. - Suzanne (2004)

Who was the Episode MVP ?

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    John Daly

    John Daly

    Moderator (1950-1967)

    Arlene Francis

    Arlene Francis

    Regular Panelist (1950-1967)

    Dorothy Kilgallen

    Dorothy Kilgallen

    Regular Panelist (1950-1965)

    Hal Block

    Hal Block

    Regular Panelist (1950-1953)

    Louis Untermeyer

    Louis Untermeyer

    Regular Panelist (1950-1951)

    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (0)

    • QUOTES (3)

      • John: (as mystery challenger signs in) XYQ, I'm being very helpful, Zed, Z, Z, K.
        Dorothy: Must be a long name.
        John: 17265, sounds like an atomic formula from here.
        Arlene: A Social Security Number.

      • Announcer: Take a good look at this woman. If you were waiting outside the phone booth, would you be able to tell what she does for a living? Is she a gossip columnist? A designer of women's hats? A babysitter? What would you say if she turned to you and asked...
        Woman: What's my line?

      • Hal Block: (during the circus trainer's game) He could be on What's My Lion?

    • NOTES (5)

      • TRADE WINDS COLUMN: In Bennett Cerf's "Trade Winds" column in the February 17, 1951 edition of the Saturday Review magazine, Bennett reminisces about tonight's mystery guest segment.

        Bennett wrote:

        Elsa Maxwell attempted to mislead the panel by speaking in a squeaky soprano voice. When a few moments later she answered in her normal deep tones, Arlene opined, "Whoever she is, she's just aged twenty years."

        - cerfnet (2008)


        1) John's previous practice of giving away the gender of the mystery challenger was dropped in this episode. He instead shouted random letters and numbers as the challenger signed in.
        2) John is seen with a lit cigarette in his hand during the opening of the mystery challenger segment and smokes throughout.
        3) On the leap-year February 29, 2008 GSN broadcast, viewers with the ability to freeze-frame can catch a couple frames of the end sponsor message going into the final segment and closing credits. It promotes Stopette as "The New Underarm Deodorant." - agent_0042 (2008)

      • (1) A SPONSOR AT LAST!!! This was the first "WML?" episode to be sponsored by Jules Montenier, Inc.'s "Stopette" brand of deodorant, with the now-famous slogan "Poof! There goes perspiration." For the next 3½ years, the company was sole sponsor of the show, until EPISODE #175 of October 4, 1953 when Remington Rand came on board as a rotating, every-other-week sponsor. Dr. Montenier's firm will sponsor the series, either in whole or in part, through EPISODE #303 of March 25, 1956. If you count the period following Dr. Montenier's sale of his company to the Helene Curtis cosmetics firm, then the figure is close to nine years, with Helene Curtis' run as co-sponsor continuing from EPISODE #305 of April 8, 1956 until EPISODE #442 of November 23, 1958. Thus the "Stopette" brand, in one way or another, was involved with "WML?" for about half of the show's 17.5-year run.
        (2) A CHANGE IN PANEL DESK: With the new sponsor in place, the panel desk is changed to reflect this newfound status. The nameplates for the panelists are now all set in Stymie Extra Bold, a serif typeface which, as the kinescopes show, is somewhat hard to read. Within the next two years, the production crew would settle on condensed sans-serif fonts for the nameplates, initially Franklin Gothic Extra Condensed and then, beginning around 1953, Title Gothic Condensed No. 11 (which was called Gothic Condensed No. 543 by Monotype). For now, however, John's nameplate on his desk is the same as on the premiere telecast, set in Gothic No. 13.
        (3) "WML?" PANEL WATCH: Because the previous episode is lost to history, this is the first existing kinescope of a "WML?" episode to maintain the kind of panel lineup order that will essentially be in place over the next three years, with Dorothy Kilgallen at the far end of the desk, Arlene Francis in the third position, and Hal Block at the "anchor" position. Only the second seat will vary, with Louis Untermeyer replaced a year from now by Bennett Cerf.
        (4) "WML?" OVERLAY FONT WATCH: For the first time since the premiere, and continuing for the most part to the next year, the occupation overlay fonts are hand-painted type.
        (5) Hal Block's series title pun for the circus trainer, "What's My Lion?," later became the title of a 1961 Warner Brothers "Looney Tunes" cartoon. Details on this animated short can be found in the notes to the previous (and lost to history) EPISODE #4.
        (6) MYSTERY GUEST: Tonight's show was the first of three appearances by gossip columnist, party host, and future "Jack Paar Show" semi-regular Elsa Maxwell. She will also appear as a mystery guest on her last appearance on EPISODE #384 of October 13, 1957. In-between, she did a spell as a guest panelist on EPISODE #306 of April 15, 1956. All her "WML?" appearances have survived on kinescope. Miss Maxwell died on November 1, 1963 -- exactly three weeks to the day prior to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
        (7) "WML?" CLOSING MOMENTS AND CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: This is the first surviving kinescope in which John previewed one of the next episode's contestants. This preview, which lasted only a few seconds, took place before John initiated the good nights with the panel. It consisted of John's introduction of the unnamed future guest while a closeup camera shot of the guest's home-supplied photograph was briefly broadcast. This practice will continue, in essence, for the next few years. The end credit sequence was once again marred by GSN's unjust, unnecessary and unfortunate ugly trait of "crunching" the screen on the leap-year February 29, 2008 airing of this landmark episode.
        (8) Right after the leap-year February 29, 2008 airing of tonight's show, GSN ran the June 24, 1963 edition of "I've Got a Secret," hosted by Garry Moore, with the panel on this occasion consisting of Bill Cullen, British actress Sally Ann Howes (filling in for Betsy Palmer), Henry Morgan and Bess Myerson, and Sam Levenson as the celebrity guest. The final segment involved a magic trick where Mr. Moore was "floating" in the air. In 1974, more than a decade after this "IGAS" episode, an installment of the syndicated "To Tell the Truth," which Garry also hosted, featured a magician, Walter "Zaney" Blaney, and two impostors. In the demonstration segment, Mr. Blaney essentially did the same trick with panelist Kitty Carlisle. - W-B (2008)

      • The panel did really well this particular evening. Louis guessed that the first contestant was an animal trainer, but didn't specify that he was a chimpanzee trainer. Nevertheless, he did get credit for a correct guess of the man's occupation. Dorothy, with the help of the audience, correctly guessed that the second contestant was a lawyer. The panel as a team guessed that the mystery guest was Elsa Maxwell. The coup de gras came when they successfully guessed that the final contestant was a chimney sweep. Also, it is not known whether this episode, or the previous one which is lost to eternity, could be the first time that John and the male panelists all wear tuxedoes. It also should be noted that this is quite possibly the first time that the mystery guest uses a false, disguised voice to try to stump the panel. If it is, it really is a historic occasion. - Sargebri (2004)

        In 1950, Billboard Magazine contained a thorough review of this fifth episode. - cpdelta (2004)

        There are several hints in this episode which we can use in trying to determine which was the first episode sponsored by Stopette. We don't know for sure, since EPISODE #4 does not exist. That was the final episode aired at 8:00 PM on Thursday evenings. Most likely, it was telecast from the Grand Central Station Studio. Based John Daly's words at the beginning of this episode, I suspect that this was the first Stopette-sponsored episode. John proudly refers to this episode as the "First episode in the new series of What's My Line?" In addition, this episode now has a new time slot and is being telecast from a new studio. Stopette could help Goodson-Todman afford the cost of finally being in a real television studio, as opposed to a makeshift one. All of these clues usually referred to some change in status, such as having a new sponsor and no longer being a sustaining series with no formal sponsor. - Rick (2004)

      • DAY & TIME CHANGE. Now airing on alternating Wednesday evenings at 9:00 PM EST. There were no episodes broadcast between the March 16, 1950 and the April 12, 1950 shows. - Suzanne (2004)

        For a 1950 to 1967 timeline of the CBS studios used by What's My Line?, see the notes to EPISODE #1. - Suzanne (2004)

        The scheduling history is as follows: This primetime game show debuted on Thursday February 2, 1950 at 8:00 PM EST and aired on alternating weeks. On Wednesday April 12, 1950, the broadcasting was changed to alternate Wednesday evenings at 9:00 PM EST. On Sunday October 1, 1950, CBS moved the game show to Sunday at 10:30 PM EST, finally airing weekly. - Suzanne (2004)

        A SPONSOR FOR WML! - On this fifth episode, as verified in Gil Fates' logs, What's My Line? gains its first paid advertising sponsor, Stopette Deodorant. This new deodorant is owned by Jules Montenier, Inc., and Dr. Montenier is billed as "the famous cosmetic chemist." Stopette will sponsor WML until the company is sold to Helene Curtis Products in about March 1956. Then, Helene Curtis is a WML sponsor through most of 1958. After that, we see a myriad of sponsors, including Florida Orange Growers, Inc., Kellogg's Cereals and Sunbeam Appliances. - Suzanne (2004)

      • FIVENINEGAL'S THOUGHTS - This is a highly entertaining episode! The panel all seem in a jolly good mood and already are "in the groove" of the show. Each member is really into playing the game and are genuinely having a great time! During the circus trainer's game, Hal made a classic Bennett Cerf pun by saying, "He could be on 'What's My Lion?'" The panel groaned almost on cue, just as they would have if Bennett had said it! Dorothy cracked me up when she exclaimed, "that's the UNDISGUISED voice?!" in regards to Elsa Maxwell. John had just announced that the mystery guest "would now use her undisguised voice." Elsa obviously did not hear him as she answered Dorothy's question in a very high-pitched squeal. Another Dorothy cute-ism, said when blindfolded: "I can't seem to hear when I can't see." I love her! - fiveninegal (2004)

        THE LOOK OF THINGS - WML has now moved to CBS Studio 51 which is located in Maxine Elliott's Theatre, aka Maxine Elliott Theatre, 109 W. 39th St., NY. They will remain at this studio until 1951. Another different look tonight is that the men are wearing formal tuxedos and bow ties. They will switch back to suits throughout the next several years, but eventually they will exclusively don tuxedos and bow ties again, and then the formal dress code will remain in effect until the show's end with very few exceptions. The two exceptions are the episodes following the deaths of Fred Allen in 1956 and Dorothy Kilgallen in 1965, when the men wear suits and regular ties. - Suzanne (2004)

        Tidbits: Tonight's short film, seen prior to the opening scrolling credits, features a lady in a public telephone booth talking on the phone. Even for 1950, the phone is old! It has an earpiece on a cord and a mouthpiece fixed to the body of the phone. At the end of the show, a preview photo of a man who is one of next week's regular contestants is shown. - Suzanne (2004)

        Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Louis Untermeyer, Arlene Francis, Hal Block.

    • ALLUSIONS (0)