REVIEW: After the previous two weeks of stellar performances, the panel came back down to earth, hard. Tonight, they only managed to go 1 for 3 on the evening. The first game was a supposed to be a surprise, but someone played a cruel joke on Bennett and mailed him a letter containing the identities of the first guests. It's also possible that the prankster was just being a little too enthusiastic and thought that Bennett would appreciate the tip. However, Bennett was very displeased and, being honest, naturally disqualified himself. It was all a shame because the mystery guests were Bennett's son, Jonathan, and Arlene and Martin's son, Peter. As far as the game went, the two kids managed to fool the entire panel, who probably wondered why the boys were on the show when they should have been home in their Harvard dorm room studying and working on the famous Harvard Lampoon. In the second game, the panel once again was stumped; this time by a magician's assistant from Los Angeles via England. In the mystery guest round, the panel was successful in identifying Robert Morse, who sounded as if he was trying to imitate Peter Falk in his attempt to try to fool the panel. Robert was on the show to promote the premier of the film version of the Broadway musical that helped to make him a star, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." And with that, the panel went home happy. - Sargebri (2008)
NEXT CANDIDATE!!! The latest lady to sit on the panel, following the passing of Dolly Mae, was actress Pamela Tiffin. Thankfully, it was her only appearance. She looked vapid and she never really had a grasp of how the game worked. To the panel's detriment, she was not the brightest bulb in the room that night. Also, this wasn't the first time that Pam worked with Arlene. Six months prior to her appearance on the panel tonight, Pam was in the play "Dinner at Eight" with Arlene. And the very first time the two of them worked together was in the 1961 classic Cold War comedy "One, Two, Three," which was notable for the fact that it was the James Cagney's last film for nearly 20 years. - Sargebri (2008)
(1) As evident on GSN's February 8, 2008 airing of tonight's show, the program starts on the tail end of the animated sequence, completely skipping the opening sponsor, which may well have been a cigarette manufacturer. In addition, the kinescope goes directly from the gunshot at the end of the animated opening titles to Arlene entering the stage, thus bypassing announcer Johnny Olson's intro as well.
(2) "WML?" PANEL WATCH: Tonight's show was the ninth post-Kilgallen guest panelist appearance for Martin Gabel, whose appearances after Dorothy's death were less frequent than before her death. This is in contrast to Tony Randall, whose own guest panelist appearances increased in frequency after the passing of Dolly Mae. As for Pamela Tiffin, whose stint as a guest panelist turned out to be a disaster on the order of the likes of Wally Cox and the more recent Aliza Kashi, the main contribution to the magazine publishing industry of her then-husband, Clay Felker, was mentioned in the notes to EPISODE #657 of March 31, 1963.
(3) FROM HARVARD TO "NATIONAL": Tonight's first mystery guest duo, Peter Gabel and Jonathan Cerf, were by no means the only notable Harvard Lampoon alumni. In 1969, three other alumni who were involved with the publication in the past -- Douglas Kenney, Henry Beard and Robert Hoffman -- started a new humor magazine called National Lampoon. The first issue was published in April 1970, and continued until 1998. During its heyday in the early to mid-1970's, National Lampoon skewered everything from pop culture to politics to the counterculture, and frequently did so in extremely bad taste. One of its most notable covers, that of the January 1973 issue with a photo of a gun being pointed at the head of a dog and the caption "If You Don't Buy This Magazine, We'll Kill This Dog," was selected as the seventh-greatest magazine cover of the last 40 years by the American Society of Magazine Editors in 2005. The National Lampoon magazine spawned all of the following:
a. A radio show, "The National Lampoon Radio Hour," which ran from 1973 to 1974.
b. A short-lived record label, Banana Records (which was an obvious take-off of The Beatles' Apple label), perhaps whose most famous record was 1972's "Deteriorata" (narrated by veteran announcer and voice-over artist Norman Rose, and with background vocals by a then-little known Melissa Manchester). It was a parody of Les Crane's 1971 spoken-word hit "Desiderata."
c. A stage show, "National Lampoon's Lemmings."
d. Parodies of high-school yearbooks, including the 1972 magazine publication titled "National Lampoon 1964 High School Yearbook Parody."
e. A 1978 parody of Sunday newspapers, called the "Dacron Republican-Democrat."
f. Parodies of several top-grossing movies, from "National Lampoon's Animal House" (1978) to the "National Lampoon's Vacation" series of movies in the 1980's.
Among several contributors to the magazine over the years, who went on to bigger and better things, included P.J. O'Rourke, Tony Hendra, Michael O'Donoghue and Anne Beatts. A handful of National Lampoon staffers, including the aforementioned Mr. O'Donoghue and Miss Beatts, left in 1975 to become involved in a new TV show on NBC which started out as "NBC's Saturday Night," but by 1977 adopted its current title of "Saturday Night Live." Four of the program's early cast members -- Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray -- got some of their early big breaks in the Lampoon's stage shows and/or radio programs, as did such other writer/performers as Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Harold Ramis. It is believed by many that the departure of many key Lampoon staffers at that time signaled the end of its "Golden Age," and the beginning of a long decline which saw many changes in owners (including actor Tim Matheson who played "Otter" in the "Animal House" movie) and culminated in its ceasing publication in 1998.
(4) MYSTERY GUEST #2: Robert Morse became one of the few actors to win a Tony Award in two different categories when he won for "Best Actor in a Play" in 1990 for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in the one-man play "Tru," 28 years after winning for "Best Actor in a Musical" for his role as "J. Pierpont Finch" in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." One year after tonight's show, he co-starred in the short-lived musical comedy series "That's Life," which ran on ABC from September 24, 1968 to May 20, 1969. Mr. Morse played "Robert Dickson," and E.J. Peaker played his wife, "Gloria Quigley Dickson." The show made heavy use of cameos, including one episode which featured recurring "WML?" guest panelist Tony Randall. Other installments featured "WML?"-related actors and/or singers such as Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Alan King, Mahalia Jackson, Robert Goulet, Phil Silvers, and Wally Cox. The program was created and produced by Marvin Marx, who for years was head writer for Jackie Gleason -- with whom Mr. Morse had co-starred in the 1959 Broadway musical "Take Me Along."
(5) "WML?" CREW CREDITS AND CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: Tonight, A.J. Gulino is credited as audio engineer in place of B.A. Taylor. And the blatantly boorish practice of "crunching" the end credits continued once more on the February 8, 2008 airing of this episode by GSN.
(6) Following GSN's February 8, 2008 airing of tonight's show, the cable and satellite channel ran an edition of "I've Got a Secret" which originated "live from New York" on January 28, 1963 and was hosted by Garry Moore. The panel on this occasion consisted of Betsy Palmer, Carol Channing (filling in for the vacationing Bill Cullen), Henry Morgan and Bess Myerson, and the celebrity guest was horror movie legend Boris Karloff. - W-B (2008)
The first mystery guests were Peter Gabel (son of Martin Gabel and Arlene Francis) and Jonathan Cerf (son of Bennett and Phyllis Cerf) who were editors of the Harvard Lampoon Magazine. Bennett voluntarily disqualified himself from this segment. After the game, he explained that he had received an anonymous letter informing him that his son might be a guest. He understandably said it spoiled the fun for him. - Suzanne (2004)
A tribute to Arlene Francis with son Peter Gabel - On March 17, 2004, Peter Gabel participated in a 1-hour radio interview with TV Historian Jim Benson of the TV Time Machine. Many people were able to listen to the "Peter Gabel Interview" at the World Talk Radio web site. During the interview, Peter Gabel stated that he was much more composed during this appearance than he was during his former WML appearance on EPISODE #720 of July 5, 1964. - Suzanne (2004)
HELLO, FOLKS!!! The show got off to a bang when Arlene and Martin's son, Peter, as well as Bennett's son, Jonathan, were the first mystery guests this evening. Unfortunately, Bennett had to voluntarily disqualified himself because someone, whether it was malicious or not, informed him that Jonathan would be one of the night's mystery guests. However, even though the surprise was spoiled for Bennett, he certainly enjoyed the fact that the kids stumped the rest of the panel. Also, much like she was nearly two years ago, Arlene was pleasantly surprised to see her son onstage. At this time, Peter and Jonathan were in the middle of their junior year at Harvard, where they not only were editors of the Harvard Lampoon, but they also found time to start up a rock and roll band called Central Park Zoo. Though the band never really made it big, they did appear on the daily talk show hosted by former WML guest panelist Mike Douglas. With all they had on their plate, no wonder their parents asked how come they weren't at home studying. The panel also was stumped by the only regular contestant this night. As was pointed out in the post game conversation, the panel concentrated too much on her work on television, when they should have asked her whether or not she worked onstage. The panel did get Robert Morse, though. Bennett figured it out when he asked him if he really succeeded at business. This, of course, was in reference to the role that made Morse famous, that of "J. Pierpont Finch" in the musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." He was on the show to promote the film version, in which he also starred. Also cast in the film were Rudy Vallee and future WML guest panelist Michele Lee. Even though this was a so-so night for the panel in terms of guest identification, it still was great fun. The one person you had to feel sorry for in this episode was Pamela Tiffin. Miss Tiffin, who was one of Arlene's co-stars in the Broadway play "Dinner at Eight," really had a rough go of things. She faltered on her introduction of Bennett and things never really got better for her after that. She wasn't listening carefully, and made mistakes due to her lack of attention. She looked as if she were lost at various times, and unlike most rookies on the panel, she really seemed as if she were unfamiliar with the rules. This was her first and final spot as a guest panelist. When all was said and done, the panel had a jolly good fun time on this particular evening. - Sargebri (2004)
More about Peter Gabel's Harvard Lampoon title of Ibis (Vice-President): The three literary offices of the Harvard Lampoon are Narthex, Ibis and President. In addition to being a Lampoon symbol, an ibis is also a stork-like wading bird, and there is an ibis replica atop the Lampoon building at 44 Bow Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Egyptian bird sits as part of the weathervane atop the Castle, which is the name for the famous castle-like structure which was built in 1909 for the Lampoon by William Randolph Hearst. It was designed by one of the Lampoon's founders, Edmund March Wheelwright. Only the editorial officers, staff and their guests are allowed inside the building. - Suzanne (2004)
Lampoon Castle History - The Castle - From a web archive of the Lampoon site:
One of the more eye-catching aspects of the Lampoon is its castle. Designed by Lampoon co-founder Edmund March Wheelwright, the Lampoon building stands as a bastion of humor and witticism in the middle of what would otherwise be an utterly drab and coldly practical street. In fact, it is rumored that the topside of every brick of the castle is inscribed with a different joke penned by Wheelwright himself - one of which is said to be so violently inappropriate that should the castle ever be torn down, Cambridge society women would request voting rights.
The castle was constructed in 1909 through the patronage of former editor and Harvard drop-out William Randolf Hearst and friend and patron Isabella Stuart Gardner. Once construction of the castle was completed, its doors were immediately closed to the public and all construction workers involved in the project were shot or lobotomized to keep the castle's contents a secret. Until recently, the only people to have seen the inside of the castle were Lampoon editors, their guests and a few criminals that broke in to steal things. Today, walk-in tours are available to the public for a low price of several million dollars.
During the introductions, Pamela Tiffin said that Bennett was "on a panel with my husband, just last week." Bennett walked out and said, "That was a book panel, Pamela." At this time in 1967, Pamela was married to her first husband, Clay Felker. Felker, born on October 2, 1928, was first an editor and later a magazine publishing mogul. Pamela was born on October 13, 1942, so Felker was 14 years older than she was. - Suzanne (2004)
Arlene stated she was from Brookline, MA. Robert Morse stated he was from Newton, MA. Both cities are near Boston, Massachusetts. Bob Morse, whom they all called Bobby, promoted his 1967 film, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," which was showing at Radio City Music Hall. - Suzanne (2004)
Tidbits: Bennett introduced John as "Silent John Daly." This means that all is well. John and Bennett are back to ribbing each other with their all-in-good-spirits sarcasm. Again, no mention was made of the impending cancellation. - Suzanne (2004)
Pamela Tiffin (b. 10/13/1942)
Panel: Arlene Francis, Martin Gabel, Pamela Tiffin, Bennett Cerf.
Click "All Episode Notes" to see all the notes, as they don't all show up on the summary overview page.