What's My Line?

Season 11 Episode 25


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Feb 21, 1960 on CBS
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Game 1: Mrs. Cordelia Sharp - "Motorcycle Cop" (salaried; she works for the Department of Police in her hometown of Florence, Alabama)

Game 2: Mrs. Lin Brown - "Runs Marriage Bureau (Matchmaker)" (self-employed; from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

Game 3: Charles Laughton (7/1/1899 - 12/15/1962) (as Mystery Guest)

Game 4: Tobias Cohen - "Sells Used Aircraft Carriers, Battleships, Cruisers, Etc." (salaried; he is the Sales Contracting Officer for the U.S. Navy; from Bayside, Long Island, NY)

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  • Steve Allen returns as guest panelist, but he's not as funny as last time.

    It's ladies' night at "What's My Line?" Arlene and Dorothy win every round! Martin Gabel is once again a welcome replacement for the vacationing Bennett. The usually wacky Steve Allen seems somewhat off his game, though. Could it be because he'd already used up his best material? This show was taped after his appearance on Episode 501, which may account for the noticeable drop in energy. [Thanks to Suzanne for consulting Fates' production log to verify this.]

    The first round went by swiftly, and it was all business. Among the few bright spots: Arlene impishly gives herself a "no" before the lady motorcycle cop has a chance to answer her question. (The answer would have been "yes.") When Steve learns that the contestant's occupation has to do with law, he asks, "Am I under arrest?" Arlene correctly guesses the contestant's line. Then Dorothy kids John that despite an earlier "no" answer, there is in fact a product involved: A ticket! John takes her objection seriously at first, and Dorothy has to explain that she was just kidding. (Now why in the world would anyone think Dorothy was serious?)

    Round two is more entertaining. The contestant is a matchmaker, and this leads to some inadvertently funny questions ("Do you deal more with children than adults?"). The audience titters at Arlene's question, "Do you teach or advise in any way?" Watch her reaction -- it's priceless. I don't know why that was so funny, but the audience thought so. Dorothy guesses the occupation.

    At the end of the round, Martin graciously salutes the ladies on the panel, saying, "You've been brilliant this evening." Such a gentleman! No wonder Arlene loved him.

    Mystery guest Charles Laughton (1899-1962), the legendary British actor-director, enters to tumultuous cheers and applause. The panel guesses him quickly, and it's another win for Arlene. Then Laughton points to Dorothy, saying, "I have a bone to pick with you. You cost me a lot of money. I’ll never carry your bag again!" Turns out he flew to the West Coast on the same plane with Dorothy, and now his wife (actress Elsa Lanchester) wants a fur coat, too. Dorothy says he is a charming traveling companion. and asks if Laughton knew he was going to be on WML. "I DID NOT! I DID NOT!" he thunders.

    At one point in the round, John objects with mock horror to Laughton’s use of the term “fixed up." Presumably John was referring to the recent TV quiz show scandals in which contestants were given answers in advance. Laughton mentions his recent appearances in Shakespearean plays in England and says that he will be returning to do more plays in late 1961 and 1962. (Most likely he never got to do these projects as he would have been ill with cancer by that time.) John mentions the wonderful response Laughton has received this evening and Laughton returns the compliment, saying that he and his wife are big fans of WML.

    Time for a final contestant, Mr. Cohen. He sells aircraft carriers and battleships. Arlene gets a laugh when she asks if the product's moving parts are “larger than Steve Allen's.” The product can hold people and is used for travel. At this point Martin unknowlingly guesses the product. He asks if it’s a "carrier." But then he runs off the rails again when he thinks it might be a car.

    Dorothy asks a puzzling question: Is the product other than an animal? John says he’s never heard of an animal that contains people! John then tells a joke about a priest and a lion that sends Dorothy into paroxysms of laughter. After some more amusing but fruitless questions, Steve almost gets it, but finally John ends the round.

    This was a moderately entertaining episode -- not the best, but certainly well worth watching if only for a rare chance to see the personal side of the great Charles Laughton.

John Daly

John Daly

Moderator (1950-1967)

Arlene Francis

Arlene Francis

Regular Panelist (1950-1967)

Dorothy Kilgallen

Dorothy Kilgallen

Regular Panelist (1950-1965)

Charles Laughton

Charles Laughton

Mystery Guest

Guest Star

Steve Allen

Steve Allen

Guest Panelist

Guest Star

Martin Gabel

Martin Gabel

Guest Panelist

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (4)

    • FLIP REPORT: In the night's final game, John flipped the remaining cards for the final contestant at seven down because time ran out. The panel correctly identified this contestant as being associated with some sort ocean-faring vessel, but they didn't have time to fish for his exact line. - agent_0042 (2009)

    • (1) "WML?" SPONSOR WATCH: The main sponsor for tonight is Kellogg's cereals of Battle Creek, Michigan, founded in 1906 by Will Keith Kellogg.
      (2) "WML?" VIDEOTAPE WATCH - 4# OF 77: This was the fourth "WML?" episode to be videotaped in advance of air date (it was prerecorded just prior to the original live transmission of last week's EPISODE #501). The full list of prerecorded shows can be found in the notes to EPISODE #474 of July 26, 1959.
      (3) CHARLES LAUGHTON - PART I: The portly British actor appears on "WML?" for the second and final time tonight. It was two years after his role as "Sempronius Gracchus" in the 1960 movie "Spartacus" (which was released in October, about 7½ months from this episode) that he appeared in his last movie, "Advise & Consent," as "Senator Seabright Cooley." Mr. Laughton was in another film in 1960, "Under Ten Flags."
      (4) CHARLES LAUGHTON - PART II: Mr. Laughton was one of only three actors connected with the 1952 stage production of "Don Juan in Hell" to appear on "WML?" The others were Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Charles Boyer. Agnes Moorehead made no "WML?" appearances whatsoever.
      (5) CHARLES LAUGHTON - PART III: Mr. Laughton was a ready target for caricature and parody over the years. Two of the more famous examples were the following Bugs Bunny cartoons: "Roman Legion-Hare" (1955), where "Emperor Nero" was modeled after Mr. Laughton, and "Shishkabugs" (1962), where the King was likewise patterned after the actor. Coincidentally, in both cartoons, Yosemite Sam was Bugs' adversary, and both shorts were directed by Friz Freleng. But the real-life Mr. Laughton also did dabble in comedy himself, as noted during the mystery guest questioning; one of his roles in that realm was as "Captain William Kidd" in the 1952 movie "Abbott & Costello Meet Captain Kidd."
      (6) "WML?" END CREDITS AND CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: During the end credits (which tonight went up to set designer Willard Levitas' art card slide), Kate Smith can be heard (but not seen) promoting her latest program, "The Kate Smith Show," which the announcer said can be seen "on most of these stations." This short-lived 30-minute musical comedy series ran on CBS from January 25, 1960 to July 18, 1960. (As a side note, Miss Smith didn't appear on "WML?" until EPISODE #794 of December 12, 1965.) GSN's viewing audience only heard this vintage program plug on airings up to 2005; it was a wholly different story, however, on the March 26, 2009 rerun of this episode, thanks to the cable and satellite channel's putrid and odious "credits crunch" where not only the picture's aspect ratio and size was distorted and shrunk, but also the vintage audio was replaced by that for one of GSN's own program promos.
      (7) Following the March 26, 2009 airing of tonight's show, GSN ran the January 7, 1960 edition of "To Tell the Truth," hosted by Bud Collyer, with the then-regular cross-examining panel configuration of Polly Bergen, Don Ameche, Kitty Carlisle and Tom Poston. The first game of the first "TTTT" episode of the 1960's featured Walter Henry Thompson (former detective inspector of Scotland Yard and bodyguard to Winston Churchill) and two impostors; the second game featured Johnny Piscopo (aka John Piscopo, Jr.; a 12-year-old dog sled racing driver who was the youngest person ever to compete in the 100-mile Quebec International Dog Sled Race which was held in March 1959 in -30 degrees Fahrenheit weather; in all likelihood, he is of no relation to comedian/actor Joe Piscopo) and two impostors; and the third game featured Nancy Arie (approximate spelling; from Maine, she worked as a shipping clerk for a lobster company from December to March, and as a lobster fisherman from March to December; she was one of the few women in America to be licensed as a professional lobster fisherman) and two impostors. - W-B (2005, updated 2009)

    • REVIEW: This was a night that belonged to the distaff members of the panel as Arlene and Dorothy showed Steve and Martin what girl power was all about. In the first game, Arlene correctly figured out that the very attractive lady from Florence, Alabama was a motorcycle cop or policewoman. In the second game, it was Dolly Mae's turn to grab a win as she correctly guessed that the Canadian contestant from Vancouver, British Columbia was a professional matchmaker. Dorothy really shone when she made her guess, because she figured out that no one on the panel could use the guest's services because they were all married. Arlene made the correct guess in the mystery guest round as she correctly identified Oscar winner Charles Laughton. After the game, Laughton humorously chastised Dorothy by accusing her of costing him some money. At first, Dorothy looked bewildered, but then the facts came out. Laughton explained that the two of them had been on a flight together to the California coast and that he had carried her fur coat. He further explained that when his wife, Elsa Lancaster, saw Dorothy's lovely fur coat, she immediately made him buy one for her. Arlene's fur coat was also briefly mentioned in the discussion. Laughton appeared on the show tonight to promote a television special of a performance of Shakespeare's "King Lear" that would air the next year. He also took time to say that he really enjoyed watching "What's My Line?" and that he and his wife never missed it. This seemed to please John. Unfortunately, the panel didn't have a perfect night as they ran out of time questioning the man who sold naval warships, so he won the full prize by default. However, nothing could diminish what Arlene and Dorothy did this night, and that was to win the first three games. - Sargebri (2005)

    • This episode was prerecorded. From Gil Fates' logs, we know this episode was taped on February 14, 1960. - Suzanne (2003)

      Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Steve Allen, Arlene Francis, Martin Gabel. Bennett Cerf is vacationing in Jamaica.