CBS has launched a new nighttime version of the classic game show Password, with Regis Philbin. The Mark Goodson-Bill Todman production started in CBS daytime on October 2, 1961, created by game show guru Bob Stewart, who the Archive interviewed in 1998. Allen Ludden was the show’s host and it was on this show that he met his future wife, actress Betty White, who was a frequent guest.
Bob Stewart talks about the creation of Password at 9 minutes into Part 4 of his Archive interview.
Ira Skutch, a longtime associate of Goodson-Todman talks about Bob Stewart at 16 minutes into Part 5 of his Archive interview.
Betty White talks about meeting Allen Ludden through Password at 20 minutes into Part 2 of her Archive interview.
Pardo talked about joining NBC in 1944 and defined his duties as a staff announcer. He listed several of the radio and early television series on which he worked and described his trademark announcing style. He talked about his long association with several game shows including the original The Price Is Right, Choose Up Sides (where he appeared on-camera as “Mr. Mischief”), and the original Jeopardy! (that launched the pop culture catchphrase: “Don Pardo, tell her what she’s won!”). Lastly, Pardo spoke in great detail about the series for which he is most closely associated, Saturday Night Live. He then acknowledged leaving his post as staff announcer at NBC having held the position for a record 60 years and 6 months.
Interview Description: Stewart spoke about his transition from radio to television, and his first television show, Songs for Sale. Stewart looked back on his association with producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman (Goodson-Todman), which began in 1955. He talked about creating the game shows To Tell the Truth, The Price is Right and Password. He discussed the quiz show scandals and its impact on future game shows. Stewart commented on his continued success with his show The $10,000 Pyramid, which was later re-titled The $100,000 Pyramid. He discussed the importance of game show host selection, the qualities of a perfect contestant, and the key to creating a fun and successful game show.
25 years ago, on February 28, 1983, the celebrated series M*A*S*H ended its 11 year, 250 episode run with a 2-1/2 hour special episode, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” (written by many of the show’s writers and directed by Alan Alda) The bittersweet special garnered the largest audience to ever watch a single episode of a television show, with a share of 77% of all Americans watching television that night.
Click here for an excellent summary of that classic episode from Wikipedia.
In the Archive of American Television interview segment below, Alan Alda (who played “Hawkeye Pierce”) recounts the filming of the last episode. Click on the arrow to play.
Alan Alda Interview Description: In his 6-part (3 hour) interview conducted on November 17, 2000, actor/director/writer Alan Alda spoke about his early years, which included a serious bout with polio as a child. He detailed his training as an actor, which included time at Paul Sills’s Improvisational Workshop at Second City and the Compass School of Improvisation, both in New York. He described his early appearances on television, including as a regular on That Was the Week That Was (1964) and the syndicated What’s My Line? In great detail, he described his role as actor, director, and writer of the critically-acclaimed and long-running series M*A*S*H (1972-83), in which he played “Benjamin Franklin ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce,” and for which he won multiple Emmy Awards. He talked about his later work as a writer-director of feature films including “The Four Seasons,” which he also produced as a series in 1984. He also talked about his work as an actor in feature films, notably several directed by Woody Allen. Finally, Alda discussed such recent acting work in television as the telefilms … And the Band Played On and Neil Simon’s Jake’s Women (reprising his Broadway performance), as well as series guest star on ER, for which he received his 29th Emmy nomination.
Q: Phil’s contributions, to television had been somewhat forgotten by then. It was driven home by an appearance on, I’ve Got A Secret. Elma Farnsworth: Oh dear. (laugh) You know, a lot of programs like What’s My Line had wanted him to be on television. And actually, he’d been very ill. They approached him about [host] Garry Moore’s show, and I don’t know, it just hit him right I guess and so he agreed. That was a very great experience because that night, he had Buster Keaton on [as a guest]. As well as a fellow that had something like 22 snakes on his person (laugh).
Q: And Phil’s secret was? Elma Farnsworth: Okay, his secret that Gary showed the the audience, was the that he had invented television, when he was 15. Of course they addressed him as Doctor Farnsworth and so they, were thinking a medical doctor.
Q: I recall they didn’t guess it. Elma Farnsworth: No they didn’t. So Gary said, I’d like this to go on and on and it could very easily but he says it’s your baby and we have to stop here …. and so they gave him something like, a check for $80 and a, carton of Chesterfields or whatever they were advertising.
Q: What did Phil think of commercial television towards the end? Elma Farnsworth: He, (sigh) he could see the potential for television. He felt that it wasn’t being used. He said, the public will get what they demand. And that’s the way it’s been.
Bob Barker has retired after 50+ years in television and 35 years as the host of The Price Is Right. The Archive wishes Bob a happy retirement!
Barker was interviewed by the Archive of American Television in 2000 and inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 2004. He was also saluted with a special evening at the Television Academy in March 2007.
Press the play button on the video below to see the Archive’s Salute to Bob Barker featuring clips from his interview!
Interview Description: Bob Barker began by talking about his childhood growing up on an Indian reservation in South Dakota. He described his work in radio which led him to be “cast” as the host of the game show Truth or Consequences, by show creator Ralph Edwards. Barker talked about his long run on Truth or Consequences in its network (1956-64) and syndicated (1966-74) runs. Barker then discussed in detail the show for which he is most associated, The Price Is Right, which he has hosted continually since 1972. Barker also talked about his other hosting duties on such programs as the “Miss USA Pageant” and “The Tournaments of Roses Parade,” as well as his animal rights activism. The interview was conducted by Fred Westbrook.
Kitty Carlisle Hart, best known for her long run as a regular panelist on To Tell The Truth (from 1957 to 1991 in its various runs), and who acted in film with the likes of the Marx Brothers and Bing Crosby, has died at age 96. Ms. Hart remained active doing a one-woman show, “My Life On the Wicked Stage,” in recent years.
Kitty Carlisle Hart was interviewed in 2005 by the Archive of American Television in conjunction with New York Women in Film & Televison. Her complete interview, can be viewed at Academy Headquarters in North Hollywood.
Interview Description: Ms. Hart talked about her early musical training in violin and piano. She reminisced about some of her appearances in movies in the 1930s, including working with Bing Crosby and her insistence on using her own singing voice in the Marx Brothers vehicle A Night at the Opera. She spoke fondly of her years as a regular panelist on the long-running game show To Tell the Truth. She talked about other television appearances and later films including Woody Allen’s Radio Days. She also spoke about her late husband, playwright Moss Hart who she said was the love of her life and “made a party by just stepping in the room.” The interview was conducted by Peggy Daniel in a joint venture with Women in Film, on November 8, 2005.