Monthly Archives: November 2010

The $25,000 Pyramid (??)

Someone sent me this ticket and I have no idea which version of the oft-revived show this was. All records say the John Davidson revival went off in 1992 and the revival hosted by Donny Osmond didn’t start until 2002. So what is this ticket from 1996 about?

And don’t you just love it when the people making up the tickets don’t know how to spell the name of the show?

To Tell the Truth (1956-1968)

To Tell the Truth had a simple premise: Three people would come out and all claim to be the same person…a person of great interest but not someone who could be identified on sight. One was the real person. The other two were imposters who had been well-briefed by the producers. It was up to a panel of four celebrities to ask questions and try to determine which was the real person of interest.

Created by Bob Stewart, who may have created more successful game shows than anyone else, To Tell the Truth debuted in prime-time on CBS on December 18, 1956. Bud Collyer was the host and it was from the quiz show mill of Mark Goodson and Bill Todman, who were seeking to replicate the success of their What’s My Line? There were a lot of panel/game shows like this in the fifties and To Tell the Truth was unique in this regard: It was one of the few where the home audience didn’t know the answer as the panel asked questions. We at home could play right along with the panel, which usually included four of the following names: Tom Poston, Peggy Cass, Kitty Carlisle, Orson Bean, Don Ameche, Ralph Bellamy, Polly Bergen, Hy Gardner and Johnny Carson.

An odd “vibe” must have been present on the set for some years there. Host Collyer was one of the more outspoken pro-blacklisting voices in AFTRA, the TV performers’ union. He was all for purging TV of performers and staffers with “pinko” connections…but a lot of those folks worked on To Tell the Truth. Mark Goodson was among the few producers willing to stand up to demands that he drop performers who’d been fingered as unAmerican by Red Channels or other such institutions. He’d resisted demands that he fire Henry Morgan off I’ve Got a Secret and he often hired panelists like Orson Bean and John Henry Faulk who’d crossed Red Channels or AWARE. Bean and Faulk won a union election over a Collyer-backed slate on these issues and Faulk later won a major lawsuit over his blacklisting. Still, from all reports, Collyer was a professional and a gentleman to all on To Tell the Truth.

The original To Tell the Truth ended its prime-time run on May 22, 1967. A daytime version which had started in June of ’62 continued on until September of ’68. That was the end of the Collyer version but others would follow.

Camouflage (1961-1962)

One of my favorite game shows when I was a kid was Camouflage, which was hosted by Don Morrow. The premise was pretty simple: There was a drawing with a hidden picture in it. Two contestants competed to try and see who could find the hidden picture first. I remember liking the show a lot but I was ten at the time and I suspect I would have outgrown it if it had been around longer. It was revived by Chuck Barris in 1980 but it was not successful.

Three Times Daley

Three Times Daley was an unsold 1976 pilot created, written and produced by a fine creative talent named John Rappaport who had been one of the main folks behind the M*A*S*H TV series. It was about a home with three generations of males trying to live together: Grandfather, father and son. Don Adams played the father but the proceedings were stolen by a great character actor, Liam Dunn, playing Grandpa. I remember watching it when it aired and finding it very fresh and very funny. When I met John, I asked him why it didn’t sell. He told me he had no idea. That’s how it goes in television…too many times.