Suzy: (surprised by her son's appearance) How would I know he's in town? He's not supposed to be here 'til Tuesday!
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! This was a very special night for two main reasons. The first reason was the fact that this episode originally aired on Christmas night 1966. The second reason was the fact that in the very first game, this episode provided one of the most beautiful moments in the history of the show. In that game, the panel was blindfolded because the contestant, a handsome young naval officer who worked on a submarine, was the son of tonight's guest panelist, Suzy Knickerbocker. Bennett was given credit for correctly guessing his occupation. However, the best part of the night came when it was revealed to Suzy that the contestant was her son, Lieutenant Junior Grade Roger Mehle. The priceless look on Suzy's face, as well as her continued exclamation of "Oh my son! Oh my son!," made this one of the classic moments in WML's long history. This definitely was a very special moment and it was endearing to watch as Suzy's eyes welled up with tears. This surprise also had an effect on the next game, as the panel was totally stumped by the kilt maker from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In the mystery guest round, proud mother Suzy correctly identified Oscar winner Eva Marie Saint. Eva was on the show to promote the classic auto racing drama "Grand Prix," which was currently playing on Broadway. Suzy also provided one of the most humorous moments of the night when John had a classic slip of the tongue when he mistakenly called her "Miss Knockerbocker." When Suzy paused and then laughed, this caused the panel, as well as the audience, to break into hysterics and that caused John to call the game on time, so the bell salesman won the full prize by default. However, despite the panel only going .500 for the evening, they still had a very Merry Christmas. However, unbeknownst to them at the time, this would be the last Christmas the panel would share together. In September 1967, the show would be cancelled and removed from CBS's broadcasting lineup. - Sargebri (2008)
FLIP REPORT: John flipped all the cards for Suzy's son at seven down, even though Bennett had correctly identified his line. John flipped them all for the final contestant at three down because time ran out. John had made an amusing error, mispronouncing Knickerbocker as "Knuckerbocker" and the laughter over this little faux pas filled all the remaining time available for this final spot, about three minutes. - agent_0042 (2008)
(1) "WML?" SPONSOR WATCH: The opening sponsor for tonight is Prell Concentrate shampoo.
(2) "MEMOREX" WATCH: For tonight's prerecorded show, announcer Johnny Olson's intro leads off with the words, "And now, from New York..." for the second time since EPISODE #837 of November 20, 1966. This once-common practice of mentioning the show's origin on a pre-taped episode is an increasingly rare instance at this point in the show's history.
(3) "WML?" PANEL WATCH: This evening, Suzy Knickerbocker becomes the fourth female guest panelist in the post-Kilgallen era, and the third outside of Phyllis Newman, to be introduced first. Announcer Johnny Olson's intro of Suzy seems modeled after that used for many years for the dear departed Dolly Mae, especially the final words "...and papers from coast to coast." However, once more, the "MISS KNICKERBOCKER" nameplate, with the smaller, hard-to-read type - and with a line of type still so long, it completely fills both ends of the nameplate - is displayed on the panel desk. It should be noted that John is now alternating between addressing Suzy by her first name and using the more formal "Miss Knickerbocker," mirroring the more formal nameplate. Also, this is Martin Gabel's seventh post-Dorothy appearance on the panel.
(4) BAD PUN ALERT: As is customary in the holiday season, Bennett doesn't disappoint. This time he speaks of "our panel moderator" throwing a custard pie at "WML?" director Franklin Heller on Christmas Eve and nearly getting himself arrested for "carrying a congealed weapon" - a play on the phrase "carrying a concealed weapon." Mr. Cerf even manages to get a few chuckles from his fellow panel members, as well as from the audience, on this effort.
(5) "WML?" CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: For GSN's January 28, 2008 airing of this episode, the shamefully disgraceful practice of "crunching" the end credit sequence is once again in force - although the cable and satellite channel waited until after Johnny Olson's ending announcement of who produced the show was over, to do so.
(6) GSN's January 28, 2008 airing of tonight's show was followed by a rerun of the September 17, 1962 edition of "I've Got a Secret" hosted by Garry Moore, with the "classic '60's" panel of Bill Cullen, Betsy Palmer, Henry Morgan and Bess Myerson, and celebrity guest Paul Anka. This episode was the first to employ a new logo design, with "I'VE GOT A" on two lines (set in Franklin Gothic), covering much of the screen, and a small, blinking "SECRET" (set in Alternate Gothic No. 3) inside the "A", which will be in use for the rest of its CBS run, as well as the accompanying jazzy theme music from the program's musical director, Norman Paris. It is also the first edition to announce that the show originated "live from New York," following in the footsteps of "WML?" which had done likewise effective with the previous (1961-1962) season. - W-B (2008)
Suzy Knickerbocker (Aileen Elder Mehle) married Rear Admiral Roger W. Mehle, Sr. on June 20, 1939. Their son, Roger W. Mehle, Jr., was born on December 28, 1941. His parents were divorced at some time prior to the Admiral's second (of 3 total) marriage in 1948. As of 2004, our mystery guest is currently practicing law. - Jeanne Hedge (2004)
Visit his web sites:
The Mehle Law Firm PLLC
Roger Mehle Biography:
MERRY CHRISTMAS, MOM!!! Bennett may have guessed the occupation of Roger Mehle, but the look on Suzy's face when she realized that the first mystery guest was her son was priceless. You were able to see another side of Suzy, that of loving mother. This evening truly belonged to Suzy. This was at a time when most mothers were emotional after seeing their sons come home, due to Vietnam. The emotional Knickerbocker reunion probably had an effect on the next game, as the panel was completely stumped by the kilt maker. However, they rebounded nicely, and it was very appropriate that Suzy identified that the second mystery guest was Eva Marie Saint. Miss Saint promoted the classic 1966 auto racing film "Grand Prix," in which she co-starred with James Garner, Yves Montand and Toshiro Mifune. A mention was also made of a film which was released earlier in 1966, "The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming," in which she co-starred with Carl Reiner and Alan Arkin. Unfortunately, the panel ran out of time with the bell maker. There was a funny moment when John accidently called Suzy "Miss Knockerbocker." At first, she just carried on and started to ask the bell maker her question. A moment later, the audience started tittering. At this point, John corrected himself, but then threw in the towel and humorously ended the game. This definitely was a Merry Christmas. - Sargebri (2004)
Tonight was Suzy's turn to be fashion forward as she became the fourth female panelist behind Carol Channing, Arlene Francis and Phyllis Newman to wear a pants outfit. She wore a dressy, light-colored, multi-tiered, full-length pantsuit with wide flare legs. It's possible that it wasn't a pantsuit, but floor-length culottes. At any rate, the bottom half of her outfit was divided. How different things were in 1966, as compared to the 1950s when all the females on the panel wore elegant gowns or dresses. As Petula Clark sang in 1966, "It's a sign of the times!" - Sargebri & Suzanne (2004)
Suzy Knickerbocker (the pen name of journalist Aileen Mehle) warms your heart tonight. She is so surprised and delighted to see her son, that she cries tears of joy. You can tell she wanted to jump up out of her seat and run over and give him a big hug! During the introductions, Johnny Olson announced that Suzy's syndicated column appears in the "NY World Journal Tribune." Previously, Suzy had been seen in Dorothy's paper, the "New York Journal-American." - Suzanne (2004)
NY WORLD JOURNAL TRIBUNE: The "Widget," as it was nicknamed, published its first edition on September 12, 1966, one day after the first regular color edition of "WML?" This new publication was the end result of a merger among the "New York World-Telegram and Sun," the "Journal-American" and the "Herald Tribune." The ultimately short-lived "World Journal Tribune" closed in May 1967. More details on this ill-fated entity can be found in the notes to EPISODE #813 of April 24, 1966. - W-B (2008)
Tidbits: Arlene is still starring in the Broadway play, "Dinner at Eight."
Panel: Suzy Knickerbocker, Martin Gabel, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf.
MERRY CHRISTMAS 1966! This is the third time that WML has fallen exactly on December 25th. Over the 17.5 year run, it happened three times; 1955, 1960, 1966. However, at the end of the show during the closing credits, the announcer Johnny Olson stated that the program had been prerecorded. From Gil Fates' logs, we know this episode was taped on December 18, 1966. - Suzanne (2004)
Click "All Episode Notes" to see all the notes, as they don't all show up on the summary overview page.