Just an observation. Something to consider while watching the current run of early episodes of What's My Line on GSN.
Bennett Cerf, best known for his puns and jokes on WML, seems to have stolen the idea from Hal Block. I, like many of you, have been enjoying Block and the life he brought to the show, often the highlight of the program. The other night you may have seen Hal ask John if he could remove his mask to see the mystery guest. After John told him not to do it, Hal ripped off his mask to see Arthur Godfrey because he couldn't stand it anymore. It was hilarious.
But Cerf, who seems to have stolen Block's act, couldn't stand him. In an online interview, Cerf said, "Block I thought was a clod. He wasn't in the same class as the others. He was a very vulgar fellow, and he continuously said things that he shouldn't have said. Ours was a class program even though it was just a little game. Also, we spoke English..."
Of course that sounds a bit elitist and probably is. But Block certainly added some of best highlights to those early shows, something that Cerf seemed to try and imitate later, even in his "Block like" introductions to Daly.
Cerf went on to say this about Block: "He was a very vulgar fellow, and he continuously said things that he shouldn't have said. He had a habit of asking a pretty girl, "What's your telephone number?" and leering at her. He even got up once and chased a pretty girl across the stage like Harpo Marx used to do. He thought this was funny. It was because of his desire to shine and be essential."
This is a strange comment since Cerf also has admitted being a ham and loving the attention he got on the show and it was Cerf who ended up being the one that was always commenting on the pretty girls, sometimes dragging it on so long, he would get a look from Arlene or Dorothy to move on. It appears that Cerf didn't like Block, maybe because Hal was often the funniest part of the show at that time. When he was gone, it was Cerf who was making the bad jokes and commenting on the girls.
More of Cerf's words on Hal Block:
"He sat at the end seat, next to Daly, and he was the one who made the jokes. He also became more and more risqué. In fact, John Daly invented the trick of pulling the ear, which meant, stop this line of questioning, because somebody--usually Block--would be venturing on thin ice. When we got rid of Hal Block....They fired him. He had ignored one warning too many."
I'm a Cerf fan, but I'm also a Block fan but I think the observation is an interesting topic of discussion for WML viewers.