What's My Line? Forums

CBS (ended 1967)

1951 Article on WML

  • Avatar of Stan16mm


    [1]Mar 8, 2008
    • member since: 03/28/06
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    September 17th. 1951. An article in Time Magazine appeared about What's My Line. The article is entitled, "The Vanishing Newsman" and it appears below for you. I've also entered it in the 9/13/51 episode entry under notes. Enjoy.

    Next to Joe Miller's joke book, the best source of inspiration for TV entertainers has long been parlor games. Many of these excursions into musical chairs and charades have deservedly died off. Of those that remain, What's My Line? (Sun. 10:30 p.m., CBS-TV), piloted by an amiable newsman named John Daly, is one of the very few to win an audience rating up with TV's top ten shows.

    What's My Line? comes in the standard half-hour size, equipped with a standard panel of four: Columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, Actress Arlene Francis, Funnyman Hal Block and a guest. By asking questions that can only be answered with a yes or no, the panelists try to discover the business occupations (which have already been flashed to the TV audience) of the lady wrestlers, tree surgeons, wig-makers, house detectives, sword swallowers, etc. who appear as challengers. Each "no" answer wins $5 for the challenger; if he can answer no ten times he gets credit for defeating the panel.

    This does not happen very often, and when it does the panel seldom takes it lightly. Among the 5,000 letters received each week, a good number usually protest Miss Kilgallen's relentless onslaught (observed one TVman: "Dottie's butler gets very annoyed if she misses one"). Almost as many take issue with the puns Funnyman Block incorporates into his earnest questions. Others charge collusion, although Moderator Daly insists that there is only one signal he ever gives to the panel: when he pulls his right ear lobe it warns them, usually Block, that the questions are getting dangerously close to double entendre.

    In this emotion-charged atmosphere, Moderator John Daly appears to his fans as a knight in armor holding the panel in check, giving a helping hand to the challenger, and occasionally topping Hal Block's jokes. Daly is somewhat surprised himself at his master-of-ceremonies aptitude; his background for the job consists of five years as a White House correspondent, 2½ years as a radio war correspondent and 19 weeks playing the role of Editor Walter Burns in the ill-fated TV version of Front Page.

    Luck and accident have always played as big a part as pluck and perseverance in Daly's career. Born in South Africa of an American father and English mother, he studied medicine at Boston College and became a radio announcer in 1937 because, he explains, "a good friend of a friend of mine happened to be dating the secretary of an NBC sales manager in Washington." His success on What's My Line? won him another moderator's post in July with a CBS summer replacement quiz show called It's News to Me. Last week the sponsor, Sanka Coffee, announced that the show and Daly are set for a TV run through the winter. By virtue of a weekly ABC radio newscast, Daly still thinks himself as a newsman: he hopes to get going in October with a TV news show that will have not a single contestant or panel member on it.

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  • Avatar of astorino


    [2]Mar 8, 2008
    • member since: 06/07/03
    • level: 62
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    Thanks for that great article! Is an original author listed?
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  • Avatar of stopettearoma


    [3]Mar 10, 2008
    • member since: 11/23/06
    • level: 3
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    astorino wrote:
    Thanks for that great article! Is an original author listed?

    In that era Time magazine included bylines for just a few of its articles.

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