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Regular Panelist (1950-1967)
Regular Panelist (1951-1967)
GSN BROADCAST HISTORY:
For the third airing, the episodes took longer than usual to cycle through their full rotation because GSN switched from daily airings to weekly airings between the dates of October 2, 2006 and January 1, 2008, when they once again resumed daily airings. - Suzanne (updated 2008)
1) Aired on April 15, 2002 in regular rotation.
2) Aired on July 8, 2004, in regular rotation.
3) Aired on July 23, 2007, in regular rotation.
THE GATHERING OF THE FAMILY!!! It was especially touching to see both Steve Allen and Kitty Carlisle on the panel for this somber occasion. As John mentioned in the opening, both Steve (who had been a former regular panelist) and Kitty had previously sat in on the panel as guest panelists. Also, Steve and Kitty represented Goodson-Todman's other two classic panel shows, "I've Got a Secret" and "To Tell the Truth," respectively. So, it definitely was a gathering of the "G and T" family.- Sargebri (2007)
THE POST DOROTHY ERA!!! After allowing things to settle down, Goodson-Todman announced that they would conduct a talent search to seek a suitable replacement for Dorothy. Their choices ranged from the excellent (Helen Gurley Brown, Lee Remick and Aileen "Suzy Knickerbocker" Mehle) to the downright bad (Aliza Kashi and Pamela Tiffin). However, it was eventually decided to leave Dorothy's seat open -- as was done with Fred Allen's seat on the panel -- and have a rotating group of ladies appear as guest panelists. The three main ladies who appeared on a semi-regular basis were the aforementioned Aileen "Suzy Knickerbocker" Mehle, former "To Tell the Truth" panelist Phyllis Newman and Steve's wife, Jayne Meadows. - Sargebri (2007)
DOROTHY MAY BE GONE, BUT THE "VOICE OF BROADWAY" LIVES ON: While Miss Kilgallen's seat on "WML?" was never permanently filled, it was a different story at the paper for which she wrote for nearly three decades, the New York Journal-American. After Dolly Mae's death, her "Voice of Broadway" column was assigned to Jack O'Brian who, up to that point, had been the Journal-American's TV critic. Mr. O'Brian's lone "WML?" appearance was on EPISODE #335 of November 4, 1956, as a mystery guest. - W-B (2009)
IN MEMORIAM: It wasn't just Dorothy who passed away this past week. Only one day after her death, on November 9, 1965, her Journal-American colleague, Florence Pritchett Smith, died of a cerebral hemorrhage at her home in New York at age 45. She had been a guest panelist (filling in, ironically enough, for Dolly Mae) on the unfortunately long-lost "WML?" EPISODE #12 of July 19, 1950. - W-B (2009)
FLIP REPORT: John flipped the final card for mystery challenger Maureen O'Sullivan at nine down. Prior to the flip, Arlene had mentioned Maureen's name aloud when she mused that the mystery challenger "could not be Maureen O'Sullivan" -- the audience tittered, but Arlene didn't pick up on this important clue from the audience. - agent_0042 (2007)
(1) "WML?" SPONSOR WATCH: The opening sponsor for tonight's show was Supp-Hose stockings.
(2) "LIVE" WATCH: Announcer Johnny Olson did not mention that this tribute show was broadcast live, thus there were no cuts to the opening. In a departure from the norm, the panel and Mr. Daly are pre-seated tonight.
(3) KITTY CARLISLE: Based on the trajectory of the remainder of "WML?'s" classic CBS run from here on out, it would appear that there was more to Miss Carlisle's closing comments of "Tonight I'm sitting in Dorothy's seat, but no one could ever possibly take her place" than met the eye -- in Kitty's case, at least. That's because, after tonight's show, Kitty never again appeared on the "WML?" panel. In the general sense, however, her ending words tonight proved highly prophetic. Kitty would go on to make one more memorable appearance on the classic CBS "WML?", as a mystery guest combo along with her fellow "To Tell the Truth" panelists Tom Poston, Peggy Cass and Orson Bean, on EPISODE #840 of December 11, 1966, to promote the return of the nighttime edition of that venerable show. Fittingly, the one who identified them on that occasion was former daytime "TTTT" panelist, and now frequent "WML?" guest panelist, Phyllis Newman. Miss Carlisle would also appear on three different occasions as a mystery guest on "WML?" during its 1968-1975 syndicated run.
(4) MAUREEN O'SULLIVAN: At the time of Miss O'Sullivan's mystery guest appearance tonight, her daughter, Mia Farrow, was making a name for herself as the soap opera character named "Allison MacKenzie" on the 1964-1968 TV series version of "Peyton Place," which also made a household name of Ryan O'Neal. More than a year after this episode, on EPISODE #838 of November 27, 1966, Miss Farrow was the second mystery guest, while her then-husband, Frank Sinatra, making what turned out to be his only "WML?" appearance, was both the first mystery guest and, from that point on in that edition, a guest panelist. More about Mia can be found in the notes to EPISODE #838.
(4) GSN AIRING TALLY: Tonight's show was most recently aired by GSN on July 23, 2007. Previously, the cable (and satellite) channel had run it on July 8, 2004, and before that, on April 15, 2002.
(5) "WML?" CREW CREDITS WATCH: On this somber episode, only the title card was shown at the end, with none of the crew credited tonight.
(6) After the July 23, 2007 airing of tonight's show, GSN ran another "WML?" episode, this time from the 1968-1975 color syndicated incarnation. This edition was from Week #158, taped on July 27, 1972; it was from the second week of Larry Blyden's run as host, the announcer was Chet Gould, and the panel consisted of Soupy Sales, Anita Gillette, Gene Rayburn and Arlene Francis. The mystery guest on this show was actress Joan Fontaine who, like Miss Newman, was once a panelist on the daytime CBS "TTTT?" - W-B (2007)
More on Barbara Feldon: With all due respect to Barbara Feldon, the first female TV personality to project intelligence and sex appeal, the syntax she has used in print and television interviews for forty years does resemble that telegram sent to Goodson-Todman at 3:36 AM the day after Dorothy Kilgallen died. In 1995, Feldon appeared with on "Geraldo" (Geraldo Rivera's 1987-1998 syndicated talk show) in a salute to sitcoms of yesteryear. Appearing with her were Barbara Eden, Marcia Wallace, Bill Daily and Jeff Conaway. Feldon did not seem to fit in with the saccharine, lightweight atmosphere of Geraldo's discussion. She was sidelined by a foot injury, but that did not stop her from promoting her upcoming off-Broadway one-woman show in a shrill, tactless way. She insinuated that studio audience members owed it to themselves to absorb the classic poetry by the likes of Yeats and Browning that she planned to recite in this project titled "Love: For Better Or Verse." Days later, the New York Times theater critic slammed it, and Feldon soon moved on to other projects. Several years later, she tried unsuccessfully to launch a culinary TV show a la Emeril. She told one reporter that she had come to realize that haute cuisine was "one of life's great daily raptures." (That comment is an echo of the lexicon in the 1965 telegram.) Some may point out that the telegram was sent just two months after the premiere of "Get Smart," which was filmed in California. Consider that during those two months, the sitcom received impressive Nielsen ratings. They were high enough for its producers to reschedule filming so Feldon could return from New York to Los Angeles on one of the fast new jet planes. In other words, it would have been very possible for Feldon to be a regular performer on both shows - which were on opposite sides of the United States. While Feldon didn't appear on What's My Line? until 1967, she was no stranger to Goodson-Todman on the day they lost Dorothy Kilgallen in 1965. Old TV Guide magazines list Barbara Feldon as a guest player on G-T's "Get The Message" in 1964. She performed for other quiz show producers also. Her IMDB page lists her as a guest on a 1957 episode of "The $64,000 Question," with a specialty of Shakespeare. Also, consider that Feldon's Belgian-born husband remained in New York while she worked in Los Angeles, and she told People magazine many years after their divorce that he was "the most reasonable person I've ever met." In 2002, she published and heavily promoted her first book. It's about the joys of living single. "Don't feel you need a significant other," Barbara Feldon advises. - Jan Simonson (2004)
More words by Lee Israel, regarding Dorothy's To Tell The Truth quiz show:
(Begin quote) "G-T wiped the videotape, as it did with 99 percent of the other daytime To Tell The Truth videotapes between 1962 and 1966. I read Kilgallen's obits in various newspapers on microfilm including all the New York City dailies. I read columnists who could have referred to the death in passing. It turns out that only one paper revealed anything about the TTTT episode beyond the fact that Dorothy and Arlene pretended to be Joan Crawford.
The Evening Star of Washington, DC had a popular television columnist named Bernie Harrison who evidently watched the broadcast and summarized what Kilgallen said after she and the others removed their black veils. She said that she had found it difficult memorizing the information she needed for her impersonation and that 'playing the game made her nervous.'" (End quote) - Jan Simonson (2004)
More on Dorothy's last TV appearance on TTTT: The videotape of Dorothy's TTTT broadcast is long gone, but a respected television columnist of that era, Bernie Harrison of the Evening Star of Washington, DC, wrote some observations about it. In the same edition of that paper with Kilgallen's obit, Bernie wrote in his column that Kilgallen seemed nervous on the program. He reported that after the panelists voted and the real Joan Crawford stood up, Kilgallen said she had trouble memorizing the information she needed to know for a decent impersonation. He reported that she said the game made her nervous. None of the New York papers reported this. - Jan Simonson (2004)
Dorothy's very last aired television appearance - now lost - is on TTTT: The following quote is from the 1979 Lee Israel "Kilgallen" biography about Dorothy:
(Begin quote) "Dorothy had taped To Tell The Truth, a Goodson-Todman identity game, on November 2. Dorothy, Arlene and Joan Crawford appeared in masks. The panel had to determine which of the contestants was 'the real Joan Crawford.' The program was aired from 3:00 to 3:25 p.m. Immediately after it ended, Douglas Edwards made the first announcement: 'Dorothy Kilgallen, just seen on the preceding prerecorded program, was found dead in her home today.'" (End quote)
It sounds like it was an interesting episode. Arlene, Dorothy and Joan Crawford all wore the typical large hats with veils that TTTT put on guest stars for the celebrity rounds. In addition, their voices were electronically disguised. (Can you just picture Kitty Carlisle asking the contestant, "Number One, just what DO you have against wire coat hangers?") - georob (2004)
In 1996, tonight's first guest, Norma Walker, then living in Pacifica County, Washington, ran for county commissioner and lost. She became an accomplished painter of oils and watercolors. - Jan Simonson (2004)
This show was really touching. I got misty eyed when, as Bennett was talking at the end, you could hear Arlene sob. Rest in Peace, Dorothy. - GSS (2004)
This had to be the saddest episode ever broadcast. Even though there were several attempts to lighten the mood, it was still evident that the panel was very subdued due to the tragedy. The panel tried to play the game, but you could tell that they were merely going through the motions. It was nice to see Kitty Carlisle and Steve Allen together as the guest panelists. Not only were they "family," but they also symbolically represented the panels of the other Goodson-Todman game shows, respectively, "To Tell the Truth" and "I've Got a Secret." In fact, as mentioned earlier, Dorothy's final appearance was on "To Tell the Truth." She and Arlene had earlier taped a segment which ironically aired on the day of her passing. You could also hear the sadness in their voices at the end. Each panelist's voice seemed to shake as they made their loving tributes to Dorothy. Arlene put it best when she said that the Dorothy wasn't just a co-worker, but she was family as well. She said that Dorothy, being the youngest, was the "little sister." Kitty really said it best when she said, "I may be sitting in Dorothy's seat, but she will never be replaced." And even though she never was permanently replaced, the show still went on for the next two years. Ironically, even though Dorothy's death did cause the WML ratings to diminish slightly, it was CBS's purge of all their primetime game shows ("Password," "To Tell the Truth" and "I've Got a Secret") that led to its ultimate demise. However, when Dorothy died, not only the show, but the panel changed forever. - Sargebri (2004)
The Mystery Telegram: In his 1978 hardback WML book, Gil Fates writes on page 107:
(Begin quote) "Some time in the early morning hours of Monday, November 8, 1965, Dorothy Kilgallen died in her sleep. The next day a telegram stamped "3:36 A.M." arrived on Mark Goodson's desk. It read: 'I know how distressed you are at Dorothy Kilgallen's passing and all in show business share your sorrow. She is irreplaceable but perhaps I could bring to the "What's My Line?" panel promotional and entertainment values that would be almost as effective. Could we chat about it? May I call you for an appointment?' It was signed by a lady very large in television, who in her haste had lost her taste. This was Tuesday. Dorothy's funeral wasn't until Thursday. Mark bounced the wire over to me with the notation, 'When she calls, tell her it's a little early to be discussing this.' I did." (End quote)
Gil Fates did not name this woman in his book, but it has become known - or at least strongly suspected - that the woman who sent the telegram was Barbara Feldon. During this time, her 1965-1970 television series "Get Smart" was very popular. She played the character of the secret agent named "Agent 99." Barbara Feldon will later appear as a WML guest panelist on the episode of June 11, 1967. - Suzanne (2004)
Please don't believe the half-baked JFK conspiracy theories that link Dorothy Kilgallen with John K. Kennedy's death. Don't do Dorothy that disservice. The simplest explanation is usually the correct one. In Dorothy's case, she has been a substance abuser for years. She had been hospitalized more than once for her alcohol dependence. More likely than not, Dorothy died of a lethal combination of self-ingested drugs and alcohol, by accident. Two web pages that outline the numerous flaws in the Kilgallen/Kennedy theory are here:
1) by Eric Paddon
2) by John McAdams
Many references are made to this episode being somber. While the overall tone is certainly subdued, this episode is not totally without smiles or a few laughs from the panel members or audience. The saddest part is definitely the end, when the panel members each offer their own personal goodbye to Dorothy. Understandably, the longest comments come from the panel members who had been regulars with Dorothy; Arlene Francis, Steve Allen and Bennett Cerf, with perhaps Bennett's words being the most touching. Kitty's tribute, while short, was also heartfelt. Kitty probably kept her comments short to allow Bennett more time to speak, as they were out of time. In retrospect, they should have foregone the forth game to allow the panel more time to speak about Dorothy. After Bennett's kind words, the camera then moves to John Daly, whose eyes appear glossy. He says good night with no further reference to Dorothy. - Suzanne (2004)
This is the show following Dorothy Kilgallen's death. John Daly opens the show in a very somber tone, of course. After his introduction, the animated opening begins, but afterwards, the panel is seated and there are no usual panel introductions at all. To indicate the more somber tone of the program, John, Steve and Bennett wear regular straight neckties rather than the customary bow ties the male panelists usually wore. (This also happened on the episode following Fred Allen's 1956 death.) Then, with a somber air, the program proceeds with no further mention of Dorothy's death until the end of the program. It is not a good night for the panel in terms of game play, as they miss the first two contestants and then fail to nab mystery guest Maureen O'Sullivan. They really get adrift during her segment, as more than one of them keeps trying to pin her down as a musical star or a person appearing in a musical, despite an earlier "no" answer to that question. At one point during a conference, Arlene says that it can't be Maureen O'Sullivan. On an ordinary night, the audience would have laughed at this and tipped things off, but not on this occasion. The audience titters slightly at her words, but not enough to give her a clue. Only on the last segment, with a lucky guess from Bennett concerning the female barber, do they partly redeem themselves. For the final segment, each panelist, Arlene Francis, Steve Allen, Kitty Carlisle and Bennett Cerf, offers their own personal tribute to Dorothy. By this point, almost a whole week had passed since her death, but you can tell that both the panel and John Daly are still largely in a state of shock, perhaps brought on more by the fact of having to do the program for the first time without her. Still, they valiantly try to keep things normal during the segments. Bennett even plugs in a question about the NYC blackout during the first contestant segment. Having to deal with a regular's death struck WML twice in its history. It is also worth noting that Goodson-Todman never had to deal with this kind of situation again until Allen Ludden's stroke disabled him and took him off "Password Plus" in October 1980, and prompted Tom Kennedy's word of encouragement at the beginning of his first show. To their discredit, they never did anything similar after Allen Ludden's passing in June 1981. I believe that the only other time a Goodson-Todman game show had to acknowledge on a death on-air was when Bob Barker mentioned Johnny Olson's death on "The Price Is Right" in 1985. On this episode, for the only time in WML's history, there was no applause or music at the end. After John said good night, the WML title card briefly appeared on the screen, under silence, and with no credit scroll, until the fade to black. - Eric Paddon (2002)
According to the TV Guide Magazine dated November 13-20, 1965, Robert Q. Lewis was originally scheduled to be a guest panelist on this episode of November 14, 1965. Of course, this issue of TV Guide was already published prior to Dorothy's death, which would account for the error. Robert Q. Lewis next appears on WML? on the May 28, 1967 episode. - Kirk Morgan (2004)
This was the saddest episode ever. This was the first episode after Dorothy Kilgallen died on November 8, 1965. She died several hours after taping the previous episode. To fill Dorothy's vacant spot, the producers chose Kitty Carlisle from "To Tell The Truth." John Daly remarked that Kitty was considered "family." This episode opened with John saying some very kind words about Dorothy. John said that they all wondered how to honor Dorothy. He said they decided, with approval from Dorothy's husband Dick Kollmar, that the best way to honor her was to play the game that she loved. At the end of the show, each member said a "goodbye" to Dorothy. The producers never picked a permanent replacement for Dorothy, even though many women requested her spot. Each week then had a different guest panelist in her place, which now was a total of two guest panelists each week. The show was never the same. The ratings went down and the show was eventually cancelled by CBS and taken off of primetime. - Wesley K (2002)
Panel: Arlene Francis, Steve Allen, Kitty Carlisle, Bennett Cerf.
Click "All Episode Notes" to see all the notes, as they don't all show up on the summary overview page.
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