What's My Line?

Season 17 Episode 30

EPISODE #809

0
Aired Daily 12:00 AM Mar 27, 1966 on CBS

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  • Notes

    • (1) ART CARNEY: Less than three months prior to this, his final "WML?" mystery guest appearance tonight, Art Carney reprised his most famous role as sewer worker "Ed Norton" in a musical remake of an old "Honeymooners" episode named "The Adoption," which ran on "Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine" on January 8, 1966. This was a key to his coming back from a hospitalization following a nervous breakdown in the wake of his appearing as the original "Felix Unger" in the 1965 Broadway production of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple."

      For this special "Honeymooners" show, which proved to be the pilot for Gleason's last four years on weekly network television, Audrey Meadows came back to reprise her old role of "Alice Kramden," however, she would not be available to do regular episodes of what would come to be called "The Color Honeymooners." For those episodes, frequent "WML?" mystery guest and occasional guest panelist Sheila MacRae would be recruited as "Alice" in the final four years of "The Jackie Gleason Show" from 1966 to 1970.

      (2) TOTAL TABULATION OF "HONEYMOONERS" PERFORMERS ON THE CLASSIC CBS "WHAT'S MY LINE?" - This was Art Carney's fourth and final appearance on "WML?", on all occasions as a mystery guest. In terms of total appearances, Carney was second to Sheila MacRae, the fourth and final "Alice Kramden" in the long history of "The Honeymooners," who made a total of six "WML?" appearances between 1961 and 1966, of which four were as a co-mystery guest with her then-husband Gordon MacRae, and her other two appearances were as a guest panelist. Jackie Gleason, "Ralph Kramden" himself, appeared twice on "WML?" as a mystery guest, on EPISODE #145 of March 8, 1953, and again on EPISODE #277 of September 25, 1955, an episode unfortunately lost to history, in which he appeared in his "Ralph Kramden" bus driver's uniform. Of the remaining major stars, only Audrey Meadows, the second and most famous "Alice Kramden," made a single appearance as a mystery guest, on EPISODE #272 of August 21, 1955.

      But it wasn't just certain "Honeymooners" cast members who dropped by "WML?" from time to time. On occasion, some behind-the-scenes crew members from Gleason's show also did work on "WML?", including director Frank Satenstein, who helmed five "WML?" episodes between 1954 and 1956; lighting director Stan Alper, who worked on Gleason's "American Scene Magazine," and who would later be lighting director on the syndicated "WML?" in its early years; audio engineer Jay Fairman, who manned the sound board on a few 1964 "WML?" episodes and went on to be audio engineer on Gleason's show during its last years on the air; technical director Hal Warner, who served in that capacity on a few late 1950's and early 1960's "WML?" episodes and made the move with Gleason to Florida; and Ed Waglin, who filled in from time to time on "WML?" during the 1961-1962 period as associate director, and later became associate director and associate producer of the Gleason show. In addition, Gleason's gag writer, Howard Harris, appeared on EPISODE #180 of November 8, 1953.

      Lastly, unrelated to the "The Honeymooners," but connected to Gleason, we met Gleason's personal valet, Michael Lenarsey, on EPISODE #700 of February 16, 1964; and Frank Fontaine, aka "Crazy Guggenheim" in the "Joe the Bartender" routines, on EPISODE #718 of June 21, 1964.

      (3) WALTER CRONKITE: At the time of his appearance tonight as the first mystery guest, "Uncle Walter" was in the fourth year of his 19-year stint as anchor of what became the "CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite" upon his succeeding Douglas Edwards in 1962. In his first years on the job, Cronkite trailed NBC's anchor duo of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley by a considerable margin in the nightly ratings, even with the CBS newscast being expanded to 30 minutes in 1963 one week before the competition (ABC's newscast remained at 15 minutes through 1967), but after 1964 the gap began to narrow, and starting in 1967 Cronkite took the lead in the evening news ratings race. This has been attributed to a host of factors, ranging from a building up of CBS News' resources, competitiveness and staff of reporters since Walter first assumed anchor duties, to the 1967 AFTRA strike where Huntley anchored "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" solo as Brinkley walked the picket line, to NBC's then-parent company, RCA, not providing NBC News with financial support comparable to CBS's backing of its news division. All this would come to a head following Huntley's retirement in 1970, after which Cronkite's lead in the ratings solidified and held until he stepped down from the anchor desk in 1981. - W-B (2006)

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