WELCOME HOME BENNETT!!! This was definitely a night to celebrate as the vagabond traveler, Bennett Cerf, returned to his customary anchor position after a well deserved six week vacation. As for the panel's performance on this homecoming evening, they basically went 2 for 3. Things didn't start too well in the first game as the panel was totally stumped by the female weightlifting instructor. However, seeing how attractive she was, you wouldn't have thought that she was a weightlifting instructor. In the second game, guest panelist Robert Q. Lewis more or less gave it away that the gentleman from New York via Florida had something to do with perfume. Unfortunately, he mistakenly asked his question in the negative rather than the affirmative. Arlene then guessed that the gentleman was a perfume tester, but her correct answer came after all the cards had been flipped. Bennett had his night in the mystery guest round when he correctly identified champagne polka maestro Lawrence Welk. Larry was on the show to celebrate his winning the Horatio Alger Award. It was also mentioned that the next year, 1968, Larry would be named as chairman of the National Cancer Society. Hopefully, Larry brought some champagne as a welcome home present for the Squire of Mount Kisco. - Sargebri (2008)
THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW: As was mentioned in the post game chat following the mystery guest round, Lawrence Welk's popular musical/variety show was in the middle of its 17th season on that dreaded "other network" (ABC). The show would stay on that network for four more seasons, until 1971, when it was cancelled by ABC due to the fact that the network felt the show only appealed to an older audience. Ironically, this was the same year as CBS's infamous "Rural Purge of 1970-1971." However, after ABC cancelled the show, Larry moved it to first-run syndication where it continued to be broadcast until 1982, when Larry finally decided to put the bubble machine in mothballs. It also should be noted that the success of Larry's show was not just based on his music, but also on the close-knit family atmosphere that he established on the show. In fact, many of the regular performers on the show would forever become identified with it, including such performers as Norma Zimmer, The Lennon Sisters, Aladdin, Jo Ann Castle and, of course, Myron Floren. In addition, a couple of regulars would go on to have huge careers after leaving the show: clarinetist Pete Fountain and future country star Lynn Anderson. However, that family atmosphere was almost shattered when the original champagne lady, Alice Lon, was fired when, during a performance on the show, she crossed her legs while sitting on a desk, exposing her knee. When Larry tried to explain why he fired her, he used the explanation, "Cheesecake does not fit our show." However, after he received several angry letters, he relented and tried to hire her back. Unfortunately, the damage was done and Alice never returned. - Sargebri & W-B (2008)
FAREWELL Q-SIE!!! This was the final appearance on the show for longtime favorite guest panelist Robert Q. Lewis. Bob made a grand total of 43 appearances on the show, one time as a mystery guest and 42 times as a guest panelist, the majority of which came after the tragic passing of Fred Allen. Bob probably was considered for Fred's seat on the panel, but it was decided after a few months to leave Fred's seat permanently vacant and to fill his seat with a variety of guest panelists for the remainder of the show's run. Sadly, Bob died in 1991 after a long bout with emphysema. - Sargebri (2008)
FASHION ALERT!!! For the second time on the CBS WML panel, Phyllis is seen wearing pants this evening. In fact, Bennett commented on her choice of outfit, which she referred to as pajamas. - Sargebri (2008)
(1) "WML?" SPONSOR WATCH: Tonight's opening sponsor is S.C. Johnson's Bravo floor wax, while a surprising newcomer, Coca-Cola brand soft drink, is the closing sponsor.
(2) "LIVE" WATCH: This is the 47th surviving kinescope of a live telecast from within the post-Kilgallen era to maintain the original "live" wording on the intro from announcer Johnny Olson.
(3) "WML?" PANEL WATCH: Tonight's episode is the 11th time in the post-Kilgallen era that Phyllis Newman was introduced first. She mentions that starting tomorrow (May 29, 1967), Robert Q. Lewis will begin subbing on "To Tell the Truth" for regular host Bud Collyer. Miss Newman is, in fact, referring to the daytime "TTTT," as the final nighttime episode aired the prior week on May 22, 1967. Both the nighttime "TTTT" and the evening version of "Password" left the CBS airwaves that same night. ("I've Got a Secret" had aired its final episode on April 3, 1967.) This leaves only "WML?" on the CBS prime-time schedule -- and more than four months from now, this show will be gone, too.
(4) "SO LONG, OLD FRIEND": This was the final appearance of Robert Q. Lewis on the CBS "WML?" panel. In all, Robert Q. Lewis made 43 appearances on the show during its long CBS run: 42 as a guest panelist and one as a mystery guest. His debut appearance had been on EPISODE #62 of August 5, 1951. "Q-sie" would make one more set of appearances on the 1968-1975 syndicated version, during Week #83 which was taped on April 30, 1970. Mr. Lewis appeared on the syndicated panel alongside Soupy Sales, Meredith MacRae and Arlene Francis in that week's worth of shows which was hosted by Wally Bruner. During the week in question, one of the mystery guests was a longtime "WML?" favorite from CBS days, Tony Randall, who was then just a few months away from landing the role of neatnik "Felix Unger" in the 1970-1975 TV version of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple." This would also prove to be Mr. Randall's only appearance on the syndicated "WML?"
(5) MYSTERY GUEST - PART I: Though his popular 1955-1971 show ran on ABC, "champagne music" bandleader Lawrence Welk was another of the many victims of the infamous "rural purge" of 1970-1971 which also saw many favorite shows that skewed towards an "older" audience (such as his) getting the hook. Mr. Welk, who saw his biggest chart success with "Calcutta" back in 1961, then went into syndication with new episodes, remaining on the air until 1982. "The Lawrence Welk Show" was one of two "rural purge" casualties that saw greater success in syndication, the other being the comedy/variety/country music showcase series "Hee Haw" which ran on CBS from 1969 to 1971, and would remain in syndication through 1992. In some markets, Mr. Welk and "Hee Haw" ran directly opposite each other; in a few others, there were cases of an individual TV station running both shows. In fact, in 1972, "Hee Haw's" co-host, Roy Clark, had a major country hit with a number titled "The Lawrence Welk-Hee Haw Counterrevolutionary Polka."
(6) MYSTERY GUEST - PART II: Lawrence Welk's brand of "champagne music," not to mention his pronounced accent, was for years the butt of many jokes, most notably in 1957 from radio comedian and "guerrilla satirist" Stan Freberg. That year, Stan released a Top 30 single, "Wun'erful, Wun'erful! (Sides uh-one and uh-two)" (Capitol (F)3815), which poked relentless fun at the show, most notably the "bubble machine," which on Mr. Freberg's record went totally haywire. On this release, Mr. Welk's accordion playing was imitated by session musician Billy Liebert; and in the role of "Alice Leen" (a play on the name of Mr. Welk's then-"Champagne Lady," Alice Lon) was Peggy Taylor, a moderately popular nightclub singer of the time who had previously been a resident vocalist on "Don McNeill's Breakfast Club," and who would be a part of Mr. Freberg's highly acclaimed yet short-lived (15-episode) 1957 CBS radio show. By the early 1970's, Miss Taylor moved on to announcing work, and in late March of 1973 she became a staff announcer for NBC, operating out of their West Coast base in "beautiful downtown" Burbank, California, and also handling live booth announcing duties for the network's Los Angeles flagship station, KNBC-TV (Channel 4). She was the first and only full-time female staff announcer to work for the network on either coast, and remained there until about 1989. Miss Taylor died on February 9, 2002 at age 74.
(7) "WML?" CREW CREDITS AND CREDITS CRUNCH WATCH: The associate director tonight is Rowland Vance. And once more, GSN took the added step of satisfying its loyal viewers by showing the end credits "uncrunched" and in full screen on February 15, 2008.
(8) Following the February 15, 2008 airing of tonight's "WML?" installment, GSN ran the March 18, 1963 edition of "I've Got a Secret," which this time out originated from "Harrah's Lake Tahoe" casino at South Lake Tahoe, located in Stateline, Nevada. Host Garry Moore introduced this week's panel as Betsy Palmer, former regular Jayne Meadows (filling in for Bess Myerson), Alan King (subbing for Bill Cullen) and Henry Morgan, and the celebrity guest was Carol Burnett. - W-B (2008)
John said that Lawrence Welk won the Horatio Alger Award this week. He mentioned that his music variety program started in 1955 as a summer replacement, and was a success. Listen to John as he calls Lawrence Welk "Larry." Have you ever heard of Lawrence Welk referred to as Larry? I hadn't, but it makes all the sense in the world! He seems like a very sweet man. - Suzanne (2004)
Yes, I've heard Lawrence Welk referred to as "Larry," but it has always been away from his show. Maybe it was at golf tournaments and things of that nature. On his show, though, he was always called "Lawrence." - Bill Savage (2004)
Tidbits: Welcome back from Japan, Bennett Cerf! We see a new sponsor at the end of this program, the soft drink Coke from the Coca-Cola Corporation. The sound quality on this kinescope is poor and contains a lot of noise. - Suzanne (2004)
Panel: Phyllis Newman, Robert Q. Lewis, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf.