What's My Line? Forums

CBS (ended 1967)

Who Cheated on the Show and was kicked off?

  • Avatar of KommissarX

    KommissarX

    [1]Mar 1, 2008
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    I'm just wondering if we will ever know the answer because many involved will try to protect the image of certain personalities. However it was either stated in a Cerf interview or in Fates book, that one person on the panel was caught cheating and was kicked off the show. I would love to know who this was, wouldn't you guys?

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  • Avatar of astorino

    astorino

    [2]Mar 1, 2008
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    We've never been able to pin this one down!
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  • Avatar of W-B

    W-B

    [3]Mar 1, 2008
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    I seem to recall this particular anecdote also brought up in Richard K. Doan's 1967 TV Guide article about the pending end of WML?
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  • Avatar of astorino

    astorino

    [4]Mar 1, 2008
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    Gil Fates also mentioned it in his book.
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  • Avatar of agent_0042

    agent_0042

    [5]Mar 1, 2008
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    I forgot this particular item. Was any indication given as to how exactly it was that this panelist was cheating?
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  • Avatar of W-B

    W-B

    [6]Mar 1, 2008
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    I.I.N.M., an associate of this panelist gave signals via sign language from the audience section.
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  • Avatar of astorino

    astorino

    [7]Mar 2, 2008
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    W-B is correct. In that article:

    http://home.comcast.net/~s.astorino/End.of.the.Line.htm

    Transcribed from page 3:

    Article_Quote wrote:
    One guest panelist never got invited back. He was a famous personality. "He guessed everyone, even the mystery guest," [Mark] Goodson relates. "We didn't know how, but we knew it wasn't on the level. Later we found out he had a confederate in the audience who read the occupations off the monitor and signaled him in sign language!"

    However, viewers of all extant episodes have never been able to spot anything unusual or out of the ordinary. No guest panelist who appeared presumably only once got all of the wins for the night. Mark's recollection of the incident may be false or it may have been from another entirely different game show. How would a panelist, with tons of glaring stage lights on him, tons of camera equipment in the way, be able to spot someone in the audience giving him sign language? It's almost a ludicrous thought.

    Suzanne

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  • Avatar of astorino

    astorino

    [8]Mar 2, 2008
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    Actually, there have been two incidences of allegations of cheating.

    Both most likely bogus.

    One from Mark (as transcribed above) and one from Franklin Heller.

    The second allegation of cheating was lodged against Hal Block by Franklin Heller on a 1987 videotaped interview. When watching the actual 1953 episode that Franklin discusses, the details of the show do not match Franklin's description. It's obvious that Franklin's memory was faulty after all the intervening years. Full notes from 2004 are on the guide to EPISODE #141.

    Suzanne

    Edited on 03/06/2008 3:40am
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  • Avatar of agent_0042

    agent_0042

    [9]Mar 2, 2008
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    Well, assuming that the first incident is true, I suppose it could simply be that it is on one of the episodes lost to history and therefore could never be verified.

    Sign language, huh? I can think of any of a number of ways to cheat, but that method does seem highly unlikely, given the circumstances described.
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  • Avatar of ymike673

    ymike673

    [10]Mar 5, 2008
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    It could have been someone who was a guest panelist more than once. Maybe he or she only cheated the last time they were on the show. And since the audiance was almost never shown on WML there would be no way of knowing if signals were being given to a panelist by the home viewers.
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  • Avatar of ymike673

    ymike673

    [13]Mar 7, 2008
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    While the studio audiance is almost never shown on WML they are shown on the IGAS shows that follow WML and its clear that the penalists on that show can see the audiance so I am sure the WML panel could see the studio audiance also. I've been to a few game show tapings in NY and the lights are usually set up high so the audiance can be seen by the people on stage.

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  • Avatar of stopettearoma

    stopettearoma

    [14]Mar 7, 2008
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    ymike673 wrote:

    While the studio audiance is almost never shown on WML they are shown on the IGAS shows that follow WML and its clear that the penalists on that show can see the audiance so I am sure the WML panel could see the studio audiance also. I've been to a few game show tapings in NY and the lights are usually set up high so the audiance can be seen by the people on stage.

    And you visited a television studio that was designed as a television studio. Goodson Todman had to use a Broadway theater in the early 1950s. If a TV.com contributor thinks Broadway actors never could see a single face in the audience, then the contributor needs to read up on Broadway history. And Broadway used stage lights, too. Maybe you've heard references to the word "footlights" in stories of theatrical actors like the Barrymores.

    You can read a Broadway play at the library, and that tells you a lot about Broadway. But to know more about "What's My Line?" you have to see and hear Franklin Heller talk on videotape. He was a literary agent in the late 1960s and 1970s, but the people who were interested in his memories of Line worked for a TV museum, so naturally they videotaped him instead of writing down his words. The interviewer, Mr. Loring Mandel, had himself directed live anthology dramas in the 1950s. It also makes sense that the museum won't sell you a DVD of the interview. The museum people want you to visit the museum, now called the Paley Center for Media. Unless you listen to every word Mr. Heller says, then it's wrong to judge him. A kinescope from 1953 won't tell you if anyone cheated. Whoever caught the cheater didn't say on the air what happened, nor did anyone announce it a week later or two weeks later or ... ever.

    In 1967 Mark Goodson, aware his show was running out of time and helping TV Guide write the last profile of the show, referred obliquely to the incident, calling the panelist a "guest panelist." Most people who had sat on the panel, either as guests or regulars, were alive in 1967 and they could say things that were better left unsaid. Gil Fates and Bob Bach were easy to reach in 1967 because they still worked on the show. Mark Goodson knew the story of the cheater was interesting, and he thought, as did millions of other people, that Hal Block and the other panelists would disappear after the last show. Nobody knew that GSN was on the horizon. When Franklin Heller told his story in 1987, the reality of GSN was still unknown, and many people who knew about the cheater, including Bob Bach and possibly the cheater himself (Mr. Goodson volunteered it was a man), were deceased. So Mr. Heller told his story. I recommend visiting New York or Beverly Hills to hear it.

    Edited on 03/07/2008 5:45pm
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  • Avatar of ymike673

    ymike673

    [15]Mar 8, 2008
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    Actually I attended game show tapings at the "Ed Sullivan Theatre" where the last season of WML was also aired from. I'm sure the lighting was the same as for WML in 1952 which also originated from a broadway theatre.
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  • Avatar of stopettearoma

    stopettearoma

    [17]Mar 10, 2008
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    ymike673 wrote:
    Actually I attended game show tapings at the "Ed Sullivan Theatre" where the last season of WML was also aired from. I'm sure the lighting was the same as for WML in 1952 which also originated from a broadway theatre.

    Hard to tell. By the time you visited there, technicians had several decades of improvements to work with. Nobody in the WML forums has ever contacted anyone who can testify about what the Mansfield Theater was like in the early 1950s. If they have contacted the person, they have not said so in the forums, and we know most are gone. We know stage actors could see some faces in the front orchestra seats, and we know that stage actors worked at the Mansfield shortly before CBS took it over. Many books on the theater can confirm that actors could see faces.

    Edited on 03/10/2008 7:59am
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