What's My Line?

Season 16 Episode 20


Aired Daily 12:00 AM Jan 17, 1965 on CBS
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Episode Summary

Game 1: Rudolf Wanderone Jr. aka Minnesota Fats (1/19/1913 - 1/15/1996) (his name is often misspelled as Rudolph Wanderone) - Two occupation overlay screens were used: "Professional Picket Billiards Player" and "The Famous Minnesota Fats" (salaried; he signed his first name "Rudolf" with an "f"; he was born in New York but is currently from Dowell, Illinois; Wanderone is the vice-president of Rozel Industries, Inc. of Lincolnwood, Illinois and he participates in exhibition games under their sponsorship; in addition, Rozel Ind. is the publishing company which released his February 1965 paperback book titled "The Minnesota 'Fats' Book of Billiards: A Complete Summary of All Billiard Games - Pocket and Carom")

Game 2: Mrs. Veda E. Humphrey - "Makes Store Window Dummies" (self-employed; her company was originally called 'Veda's Mannequin Hospital' but was renamed to 'Veda's Mannequins' when she expanded her operations and began manufacturing the mannequins; from St. Louis, MO)

Game 3: Ann Sothern (1/22/1909 - 3/15/2001) (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)

Alan King

Alan King

Guest Panelist

Guest Star

Minnesota Fats

Minnesota Fats


Guest Star

Ann Sothern

Ann Sothern

Mystery Guest

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (1)

  • NOTES (5)

    • REVIEW: As John mentioned during the introductions, it was a bitterly cold night in New York City and the panel bravely showed up for tonight's broadcast. Unfortunately, their game performance was so bad this evening that they probably should have stayed home snug in their homes. In the first game, the panel was absolutely stumped by famed billiards player, "Minnesota Fats," who signed in using his real name, Rudolf Wanderone, to keep the panel from prematurely guessing who he was. In the second game, the panel was once again put through the wringer when they were stumped by the mannequin maker from St. Louis, Missouri. However, the low point of the evening came when they were absolutely destroyed by Ann Sothern, who used a phony German accent and said "yah" and "nein" to fool the panel. Ann was on the show to promote her upcoming 1965 film "Sylvia." She also talked about the classic 1964 thriller "Lady in a Cage." Arlene definitely said it best when she said that because of the panel's bad performance, the show should have been renamed "What's My Nein?" - Sargebri (2006)

      As Ann Sothern mentioned, the film she was appearing in, "Sylvia," was about to open. She also discussed the film "Lady in a Cage," in which she co-starred with Olivia De Havilland as well as an up-and-coming young actor by the name of James Caan. However, Ann would have something else to be proud about. Her daughter, Tisha Sterling, whom she had with her husband actor Robert Sterling, was about to make her screen debut later that year. Unfortunately, that 1965 film, "Village of the Giants", turned out to be one of the biggest turkeys that year. Also starring in that film were a couple of other second-generation actors, Mickey Rooney's son, Tim Rooney, as well as Beau Bridges. Also appearing in the film was future Best Director Oscar winner Ron Howard, who was taking a break from his role as "Opie" on "The Andy Griffith Show" to appear in this film. Also, several years later, Tisha would work with her mother, albeit indirectly. Ann played the role of "Tisha Doughty" in the 1987 film "The Whales of August" while Tisha played the young "Tisha" in a flashback sequence. - Sargebri (2006)

      FLIP REPORT: John flipped the remaining card for mystery challenger Ann Sothern at "nine" down, saying he was throwing in the towel for the panel. - agent_0042 (2006)

    • (1) "LIVE" WATCH: This is the 33rd known surviving kinescope recording of a live telecast to have the word "live" edited from the intro - or attempted to, as the end result came out sounding like, "And now, l-- from New York..."
      (2) Guest panelist Alan King's nameplate once again reads as "MR. KING," as it had since EPISODE #642 of December 9, 1962.
      (3) For the first time in a couple weeks, the type used for Miss Sothern's name on the overlay screen was the usual "WML?" overlay font of Futura Demi Bold.
      (4) Around the time of her mystery guest appearance tonight, Ann Sothern was also making recurring guest appearances on "The Lucy Show," playing the role of "Rosie Harrigan, aka Countess Framboise." She made six appearances on the show in that role between February 1, 1965 and November 22, 1965. One such appearance, "Lucy and the Countess Have a Horse Guest," originally aired October 25, 1965, marked the final television appearance of William Frawley who had played "Fred Mertz" on "I Love Lucy" and "Bub" on "My Three Sons." Frawley died of a heart attack on March 3, 1966, nearly five months after that episode first aired.
      (5) A PORTENT OF THE FUTURE: As Miss Sothern left Mr. Daly's desk and greeted the panel, the camera shot used was from the camera positioned at stage right (to the viewer's left side), with a full shot of the panel desk with the panelists' notepads, microphones, and glasses of water in full view. This camera was the one usually focused on John and his contestants, while the center camera was the one usually used for post-game greetings of the panelists. Though this was the only known case of this special camera angle used on "WML?" during the CBS run, this kind of shot would become commonplace after the end of each game on the 1968-1975 daily color syndicated incarnation.
      (6) During the end credits, announcer Johnny Olson made a PSA (public service announcement) for automobile seat belts.
      (7) THE END OF A DAILY "BLACK & WHITE OVERNIGHT": GSN's August 21, 2006 airing of this episode marked the end of the nightly "Black & White Overnight" airings of this venerable classic show. Effective August 22, 2006, the program was replaced by repeats of "The Amazing Race." "WML?" is slated to return to GSN on October 2, 2006, to air on a weekly basis on a Sunday night "Black & White" block of one hour. - W-B (2006, updated 2009)

      IN REMEMBRANCE: On Thursday, January 14, 1965, Jeanette MacDonald died. She had been a mystery guest on EPISODE #134 of December 21, 1952. - W-B (2009)

    • Ann Sothern answered her questions with a German "ja" (yes) and "nein" (no). The panel racked up nine neins before John told them her identity. That's the meaning behind Arlene's "What's My Nein?" joke mentioned above. When Ann is walking off stage, we see an extremely rare camera shot of the top of the panel's desk. Instead of the usual front view, we see a side view, looking up along the panel desk from the end. Shown are the panel member's notepads and water glasses. - Suzanne (2004)

      Minnesota Fats is probably the best known pool player in the United States, in spite of the fact that he never won a single major pool tournament. Wanderone dubbed himself "Minnesota Fats" after Jackie Gleason's character in the 1961 movie "The Hustler." Wanderone told the public that the character in the movie was modeled on him. His popularity then soared. Walter Tevis, who wrote the 1959 novel "The Hustler" on which the film is based, denies all claims that the book was written about Wanderone. The claim irked Tevis so much, he wrote this 1976 note which was published in later paperback versions: "I once saw a fat pool player with a facial tic. I once saw another pool player who was physically graceful. Both were minor hustlers, as far as I could tell. Both seemed loud and vain - with little dignity and grace, unlike my fat pool player. After "The Hustler" was published, one of them claimed to 'be' Minnesota Fats. This is ridiculous. I made up Minnesota Fats - name and all - as surely as Disney made up Donald Duck. I made up Fast Eddie, too. Sarah might, in a way, be me; but that was in another country, and besides the wench is dead." In addition to this, Jackie Gleason had no respect for Wanderone either. Gleason said, "I could beat him left-handed, playing pool. Left-handed! He can't play pool. He wanted to cash in." In spite of the fact that Wanderone's personality was considered brash and vain, he was very sedate on this WML. He hardly ever smiled until his game was over. As he walks off stage, and shakes the panel member's hands, you can see just how huge the man was... maybe between 250-300 pounds. - Suzanne (2004)

    • Exactly as Arlene lamented, tonight's show should have been called "What's My Nein?" instead of "What's My Line?" (This is actually an old Hal Block style of joke she makes!) All in all, it was a bad night for the panel. They didn't guess Minnesota Fats, they failed to guess the mannequin maker and they threw in the towel with one question to go with Ann Sothern. Rudolf Wanderone Jr. (aka Minnesota Fats) claimed that he was the basis for Jackie Gleason's character in the classic 1961 film "The Hustler." In fact, he originally went by the name "New York Fats" (among other names such as "Brooklyn Fats") but changed it to the more familiar "Minnesota Fats" to more closely associate himself with the character in the aforementioned film. Minnesota Fat's longtime billiards rival Willie Mosconi appeared on WML as a mystery guest slightly over two years earlier on September 2, 1962. Visit EPISODE #629 for more billiards information. Ann Sothern promoted her 1965 film "Sylvia" and a mention was made of her appearance in the 1964 film "Lady in a Cage." Later in 1965, she would supply the voice of the dearly departed "Gladys Crabtree" in the now infamous one-season television series "My Mother the Car." Also, Miss Sothern's daughter Tisha Sterling would make her television debut that year in the series "The Long, Hot Summer" and she also would make her film debut in the Bert I. Gordon turkey "Village of the Giants." This definitely was a night the panel will want to forget. - Sargebri (2004)

    • Tidbits:
      Arlene's play "Beekman Place" opens tomorrow in Palm Beach, Florida.
      John gives a weather report again! It is currently 13 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and expected to drop even lower, between 1 and 10 degrees.
      For news reporting purposes, Dorothy will be attending the inauguration of President Lyndon B. Johnson on Wednesday, January 20, 1965.
      During the goodbyes, Arlene says, "Good night Toronto, that's where Martin is." Dorothy then makes an extremely rare reference to her husband Dick Kollmar when she mimics Arlene by saying, "Good night New York, that's where Richard is." - Suzanne (2004)

      Panel: Arlene Francis, Alan King, Dorothy Kilgallen, Bennett Cerf.