This show exemplifies everything that I love about "What's My Line?" The challengers are interesting, the game play is entertaining, and everyone seems to be having a grand old time. What more could you ask?
All the regulars are on hand, and Metropolitan Opera star Jerome Hines (1921-2003) serves as guest panelist. The celebrated bass is congenial, movie-star handsome and reasonably competent at the game.
The first challenger, John Daly, is a U.S. Income Tax Examiner not related to our host. (Arlene can't resist slipping in a joke about “The Name’s the Same,” the 1950's Goodson-Todman show.) Dorothy asks whether the contestant’s line has to do with money and, perhaps unjustly, gets a no. Then, when Arlene finds out that Daly works for the Income Tax Bureau, Dorothy cries, “It has something to do with MY money!” John flips all the cards because, after all, the contestant is “family." This game is over almost too quickly, but that's OK. Now there's more time for the second, and funniest, round of the night.
General Sir Oliver Leese (1884-1978) was one of the great British commanders during World War II, John tells us. Retired from leading armies, the tall, portly Sir Leese now raises cactus. He's quite a character, with a personality and voice that are reminiscent of Pickering from “My Fair Lady.” He's a natural comedian, too, and seems to enjoy himself immensely. (He is also somewhat hard of hearing and has an unfortunate tendency to snort when he laughs.)
This round is hilarious from beginning to end. Leese’s answer to so many questions is “Sometimes” that the word itself becomes a running joke. After one question, Leese pauses dramatically, then changes the answer to “usually.” He certainly knows how to milk an audience. Unfortunately, this doesn't help the panel much. They get off on the wrong track and stay there.
The questioning goes awry when the panel gets hung up on the idea of what grows on the plant rather than the plant itself. (At one point Bennett asks, “Is it in the nut family? I didn’t mean that personally!”). Two long conferences are called, but when the game resumes (after a stern overtime warning from John), the panel is still lost. Finally, with nine down and one to go, Hines throws a wild pass. “Geranium?” he inquires hopefully. “Did you just pull that out of the air?” an astonished John asks him. (Apparently so.) The panel loses, but it was jolly good fun.
The audience goes wild when mystery challenger Jack Lemmon (1925-2001) strides onto the stage. He’s fresh from the Academy Awards, a nominee for his brilliant performance in “Some Like It Hot.” John shakes Lemmon's hand, then leans over and whispers something in his ear.
Lemmon answers questions in his falsetto “Daphne” voice from that film. This leads Dorothy astray. "Are you a motion picture actress?” she innocently inquires “It’s up for grabs!” he squeals. Arlene then becomes suspicious. She asks, “Were you associated in any way that was glorious with the Academy Awards?” Bennett, too, seems on the verge of getting it when he learns that the mystery guest was in a picture with Marilyn Monroe. But he thinks it’s Tony Curtis. Dorothy is still baffled and passes to an equally-clueless Hines, who in turn passes to Arlene, who scores her second win of the night. (It seems strange that Dorothy, the "Voice of Broadway," wouldn’t know that Lemmon was in town to prepare for a Broadway play!)
Arlene can’t resist repeating "Bob [Hope]'s" crack at the ceremony. He said Lemmon had been nominated for "playing a girl, which is something he used to get arrested for!" Everyone roars. Lemmon quips, “I thought nobody knew about that!” Arlene praises him for having given one of the best comedy performances ever. John adds that he usually doesn’t get to talk to mystery guests before the show, but Lemmon's entrance caused such a commotion, he leaned over and asked him to "get his voice up high."
During the goodbyes Bennett reminds John in a solicitous tone to “take care of yourself,” an odd remark that he doesn't explain. John shoots him a perplexed look. Then John, too, does an odd thing. He departs from his standard script. Instead of the usual "Thanks for being with us on What's My Line?" he says, “Hooray for What's My Line? and thank you for being with us tonight. Good night”
And a good night it was indeed.