What's My Line?

Season 15 Episode 30

EPISODE #705

0
Aired Daily 12:00 AM Mar 22, 1964 on CBS

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  • Notes

    • SATCHMO - THE GREAT LOUIS ARMSTRONG:

      To disguise his distinctive voice, Louis Armstrong used a tiny "nope" and "yes" for his answers, and it took nine no's and a conference before guest panelist Ross Hunter and Dorothy Kilgallen identified him. As Arlene so often does with singers, she asked Louis to sing his hit song "Hello, Dolly!" To the utter amazement of the entire WML staff, Louis proceeded to sing several lines of his song, not just a few bars as the guests sometimes do. This wonderful performance makes this episode of WML a true classic indeed! - Suzanne (2004)

      LOUIS ARMSTRONG AND THE SONG THAT WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE:

      In Gil Fates' 1978 What's My Line? book, he reports that "Armstrong was accompanied to the theater that night, as he was everywhere, every night, by his manager Joe Glazer." Fates goes on to say that Glazer initially refused Bob Bach's request to allow Louis Armstrong to appear on "What's My Line?" because Glazer "had booked Louis on The Perry Como Show where for a fee of five thousand dollars he was to sing his famous 'Hello, Dolly!' on television for the first time." After discussions, Armstrong's "What's My Line? appearance was approved and Louis Armstrong was booked on WML on the strict condition that he "plug his Como appearance and did not sing 'Hello, Dolly!'"

      Finally, the night of Armstrong's appearance on WML arrived. His game went well. After Louis' identity had been determined by the panel, Arlene requested "Louis, dear, do sing 'Hello, Dolly!' for us." What happened next was nothing short of amazing. In his book, Fates writes, "'Please, just a few bars,' begged Arlene. The audience, unaware of Joe Glazer's contract, broke into applause and cheering. They wouldn't stop. Galzer, very much aware of his contract, was gripping the wall as if he was going to vault over it. Finally Louis broke into the Armstrong grin. With his handkerchief clutched in his hand, he pointed his finger at Arlene and, a cappella, began to sing. The audience hushed. Glazer spun around to kill Bob Bach. But Bob Bach had long since gone. Louis sang eight bars, sixteen bars, the whole damn song right to the end and the house came apart. As a matter of fact we never saw or heard from him again. Louis Armstrong did appear on The Perry Como Show and he did sing, 'Hello, Dolly!' How much of the five thousand dollars he got, I don't know. I do know that What's My Line? had the great Louis Armstrong as a Mystery Guest and our presentation of the world's television premiere of his 'Hello, Dolly!' didn't cost us an extra nickel." - agent_0042 (2006)

      Gil's full text of the story is below:

      (Begin Gil Fates quote)

      Louis Armstrong was the Mystery Guest on March 22, 1964, just one month after the original "Hello, Dolly!" had opened at the St. James Theater on West 44th Street. Louis had cut a record of the title song and it was a smash. It had already hit the gold and was still climbing. You couldn't turn on the radio for more than five minutes without hearing it at least once. Armstrong was accompanied to the theater that night, as he was everywhere, every night, by his manager Joe Glazer.

      Now, Joe Glazer was one very tough cookie. A short, cigar smoking, very intimidating fellow. It seems that Joe Glazer had booked Louis on "The Perry Como Show" where for a fee of five thousand dollars he was to sing his famous "Hello, Dolly!" on television for the first time. When Bob Bach approached Glazer to book Louis for Line at our standard five hundred dollar fee, Joe refused at first, but at Bob's insistence he called the Como people to find out if they'd mind if Louis went on our show. Como's producer said it was okay with him as long as Louis did plug his Como appearance and did not sing "Hello, Dolly!."

      Glazer and Bob Bach were standing in the back of the theater, leaning over the wall behind the last row of seats. The game was over rather quickly because the Armstrong voice was not one easily disguised. Even his grunt was a giveaway. As Arlene took off her blindfold and smoothed out her eyelashes she leaned forward and said "Louis, dear, do sing 'Hello, Dolly!'" for us.' Next to him, in the back of the house, Bob Bach felt Joe Glazer stiffen. Onstage Louis demurred.

      "Please, just a few bars," begged Arlene. The audience, unaware of Joe Glazer's contract, broke into applause and cheering. They wouldn't stop. Glazer, very much aware of his contract, was gripping the wall as if he was going to vault over it. Finally Louis broke into the Armstrong grin. With his handkerchief clutched in his hand, he pointed his finger at Arlene and, a cappella, began to sing. The audience hushed. Glazer spun around to kill Bob Bach. But Bob Bach had long since gone.

      Louis sang eight bars, sixteen bars, the whole damn song right to the end and the house came apart. Glazer was already apart. As a matter of fact we never saw or heard from him again. Louis Armstrong did appear on "The Perry Como Show" and he did sing "Hello, Dolly!" How much of the five thousand dollars he got, I don't know. I do know that "What's My Line?" had the great Louis Armstrong as a Mystery Guest and our presentation of the world's television premiere of his "Hello, Dolly!" didn't cost us an extra nickel.

      (End Gil Fates quote)

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