Match Game, The (1973-1982)

Not long after The Match Game went off NBC, Goodson-Todman Productions was developing a new version for CBS. Hollywood Squares, with its nine celebrities giving funny answers to questions, was then the big hit in daytime TV and the show to copy. The new format Match Game used six but as with Squares, two contestants would compete to evaluate the stars’ responses. The questions also became more likely to lead to funny, slightly naughty answers. Instead of asking people to name their favorite cheese, as he had on the old version, Rayburn would read the straight line to a joke and the celebs would have to supply the punch line.

Match Game ’73 went on the air July 2, 1973. The first panel consisted of Michael Landon, Vicki Lawrence, Jack Klugman, Jo Ann Pflug, Richard Dawson and Anita Gillette. Dawson was a regular from the start…until mid-’78 when he became too busy with Family Feud — a show that seems to have been inspired by the “audience match” bonus round on Match Game. Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers Klugman (ex-spouse of Jack) first appeared on the panel in the show’s third week and soon after came back as regulars.

For a long time, the daytime version changed names every year — to Match Game ’74, then Match Game ’75 and so on. A once-a-week syndicated version for evenings was called Match Game PM and ran from 1975 to 1981. In 1979, CBS cancelled the daytime version and Goodson-Todman immediately offered a syndicated five-a-week version called simply Match Game, with no identifying date since shows were run and rerun at different times. (The tickets above that lack the CBS eye were from tapings for syndicated shows. CBS policy was to only put their logo on tickets for shows that aired on CBS.)

Episodes were taped in long blocks to accomodate Gene Rayburn, who commuted from a home on the East Coast. Sometimes, they’d tape six days a week, five shows a day, for two or three weeks at a stretch. That sometimes made it difficult to secure enough of an audience to fill all the seats. As you can see, the tickets promised prizes to those who came to watch. And on almost every tape day, people dispensing free tickets could be found over at Farmer’s Market, the tourist attraction located next to CBS Television City. Sometimes, they’d “sell” the evening tapings by pointing out that the celebrity panelists often got a bit tipsy over the dinner break from wine and other spirits. This is why the Thursday and Friday shows, which taped after supper, were usually funnier and full of bleeps.

Even after the syndicated version ended, Match Game did not stay off the air for long. By October of ’83, it was back on network as one half of The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour, thereby partnering with the show it tried to emulate in the first place. Another version ran from 1990 to 1991 and yet another from 1998 to 1999.

[Thanks to Curt Alliaume for correcting an error that was in this page as originally posted.]