its opening moments with the psychedelic set and rock music score,
the 1969 premiere set itself apart from its staid CBS predecessor.
But it was really only after the first game -- when Garry Moore
demonstrated adding water to dehydrated food and accidentally
used the wrong end of a water dispenser, then mugged his way out
of the predicament -- that it was clear this "TTTT"
was determined to be more fun than the original series in both
form and content.
Burnett on "To Tell The Truth"
Burnett sat on the panel four times during Garry Moore's tenure:
two episodes in 1971, two more in 1976. The first two shows were
something of a "Garry Moore Show" reunion, with Durward Kirby in
the guest panel seat and Carol substituting for Kitty Carlisle...
regular panelists were all present for her return visit five years
later, and these shows took on a more personal quality. In her first
1976 episode, the panelists were introduced at the top of the show
so Carol could introduce, "the nicest man I know, Mr. Garry Moore".
second '76 show featured a surprise central character: Carol's sister
Chris Hutchison. Carol teared up over the fact that her sister had
flown in just for the occasion, and after the game - as Garry began
to tease round two by saying, "our next guest has also come a long
way to appear on "To Tell The Truth'" - Carol quipped, "I
hope it isn't my first husband!" To which Garry Moore could
only respond affably, "If we'd have thought of it, we'd have done
it. It's that kind of a show!"
Soupy Sales is Such a Drag
Sales became a semi-regular "To Tell The Truth" panelist
in 1975, only after "What's My Line?" had closed up shop.
But his first Garry Moore "TTTT" appearance was actually
a year prior to that, when he appeared as an impostor for central
character David Lewis, the female lead in Harvard College's Hasty
Pudding theatrical production, Keep Your Pantheon. After
the reveal, Garry talked about Soupy's huge accomplishment -- muting
his larger-than-life personality under all that makeup and costume
so he wouldn't be recognized by the panelists. And while it's true
that Soupy may have been subtler than usual, he still didn't get
any votes that day...
Tom Poston's Last Show
what turned out to be Tom Poston's final "To Tell The Truth"
panel appearance of the Garry Moore version (and, actually,
of the entire series), a sleeping position expert's segment
threw the whole show into orbit. Here's how it happened:
Poston: "Number one, my little ones love to come in and
finish the night out sleeping with their parents. What does
that signify? One is a boy and one is a girl."
one: "I would say it signifies that they seem to have a
great deal of closeness to you, I would think, and they want
to keep on that closeness after you've been gone a little while."
"Yes well, we sure...I love it. Kay says, 'Cut it out;
it doesn't do 'em any good.' Number three, my little girl --
when she sleeps with me -- insists on contact. Elbow...head...feet...legs...knees...behind...some
contact with me no matter how much I move. What does that...what's
she telling me?"
three: "Very good feminine thing. When a woman has had
relations with her husband that's the one thing she wants to
do is stay right close to him when it's over."
Cass: "This is his little girl..."
"I probably didn't make that clear, but she's only three
At which point,
the panel and Garry cracked up so badly that they had a terrible
time getting through the votes. Kitty Carlisle laughed so hard
But wait, there's
After the voting
(Poston: "I voted for number one and I'll never speak to
number three again!") and the reveal (it was actually number
one), the panelists fished for an interpretation of their own
sleeping positions from the central character. But undaunted
impostor number three -- maybe forgetting he didn't have to
make an impression anymore -- interrupted the real doctor
for some important words:
"In the far east, they use what's called a dutch wife --
it's like a bolster -- and they grab it and they hold it to
them all night long and that's what they use to get the perspiration
off their bodies."
not my way I sleep!"
"No...but I said in the far east where you have no other
way of doing it. And you have a mosquito net around the bed
or other this whole thing has gone out the window!"
the real one...?"
It's a tribute
to Garry Moore's professionalism that he'd been able to keep
everything running smoothly to this point, but number three's
last outburst gave the whole cast the giggles and even Garry
couldn't tease the next segment.
got a whole long thing here to read. I can't possibly...go to
And they did.
Carlisle's most endearing attribute may have been a sort of daffy
dignity, a quality that helped propel her through all those pesky
sports segments and allowed her to ask questions to which most people
already knew the answer. Her socially aware eruptions of the 1970s
became something to look forward to.
of her most esoterically comic pep talks occurred during a spot
featuring a young man who survived after having been bitten by a
delighted that you're here, not because something terrible happened
to you, but because this is a good lesson for everyone who has a
poisonous snake as a pet: you must have anti-venom in the icebox..."
directly to the camera, eyes gleaming>
"…ladies and GENtleman, always in the icebox if you give your children
poisonous snakes to play with!"
<Bill cackles; Peggy says, "Gee, teach!"; Kitty tornadoes
through the rest of her questioning>
course, Kitty was right: children who play with poisonous snakes
really should have anti-venom nearby. But the mere fact that she
was just so impassioned about the subject made this moment strangely
surreal. And very funny.
Twain Said It So Well...
one to pass up a chance to make fun of himself, Garry Moore once
read on the air a newspaper's TV Q&A article in which the columnist
claimed that Garry had died years earlier. Naturally, Garry set
the record straight:
tell you the truth, I'll be honest. I did, I died several years
ago. And the part of me - that is the part you're seeing right now
- is being played by Robert Redford without his makeup."
Whom To Believe?
Garry Moore returned for his official farewell six months after
he had actually left the series, the episode's second game was scrapped
so Garry could recap why he had left in the first place. Garry's
version of the story is that he decided while recovering from throat
surgery that it was time to step down, a point that Gil Fates' What's
My Line? book corroborates...
But early in 1977,
Variety reported that Garry had been scheduled to retire
at the end of the 1976-77 taping season anyway, so his surgery really
only moved up his departure date.
Either way, Garry's television hosting days were behind him after
that all-too-brief return visit...
Was Nice To Mice
A young Ally Sheedy
appeared as a panelist for two shows during Garry Moore's last year
hosting. Previously, Sheedy had been a contestant in a segment featuring
her children's book, She Was Nice To Mice. The producers
were so charmed by her poise that she was invited back shortly afterward
to sit with the panel. And if she was nervous, Sheedy barely showed
it during her first appearance as she questioned a candy sculptor
followed by a marathon swimmer. In fact, Sheedy turned in a performance
that was as strong as the man she replaced on the panel halfway
through the week: former New York City Mayor John Lindsay.
Garry Moore's explanations
for the regular panelists' occasional absences were always a treat,
but he seemed to save the most preposterous for Kitty Carlisle.
1974: Kitty's "...at
home visiting her wardrobe and seeing her lawyer about amortizing
1975: "...on tour
with the roller derby."
to a very tempting fee and is speaking at the unveiling of a manhole
A trainer once brought
frogs to the set to compete in a distance jump competition, with
each one named after the panelists. It's quite a sight, the panel
standing at their desk cheering on frogs, but surreal indeed to
watch Kitty Carlisle almost kiss one!
Order of the Rubber Doughnut
1974 turned out to
be a physically challenging year for TTTT's emcee. First, Garry
hobbled onstage in early February wearing deck shoes and explained
he'd broken his toe after dropping a lamp. Then in April, he returned
after an absence and offered this explanation:
"In case you're wondering
where I was all that time, I can't tell you exactly. I'll tell you
I spent most of the time with a surgeon friend of mine who inducted
me into the Royal Order of the Rubber Doughnut. It's a very basic
honor. And beyond that I will not go. So you can see I had to have
somebody sit in for me 'cause I couldn't sit in for myself. But
I am now back on a firm foundation."
Garry liked to make
usually-veiled comments about TTTT's summer vacations. Some years
he even made the same one.
1971: "Is it just
me or did it seem like a terribly long weekend?"
1972: "We want to welcome you all to our reunion. It is nice to
have you with us. I say 'reunion' because we've all been on vacation
around here for a couple of weeks. I guess you didn't notice 'cause
we taped a few shows ahead. I'm not allowed to tell you how far
ahead we taped but a lot has happened while we've been off the air...uh,
that is, while we were on vacation. Both political parties held
their conventions and as everybody predicted it's gonna be Hoover
against Roosevelt. And out there in Brooklyn the Dodgers did it
again. Congratulations Carl Erskine."
1973: "Did you have a good weekend, panel? It's one of those weekends
that just went on and on and on..."
1974: "Great start, fellas!" (when a venus flytrap demonstration
went nowhere) and, "Your weekend rest did you a lot of good, panel!"
(after a stump to start out the new taping season).
1975: "Although our panel is not really related to one another,
they act like brothers and sisters. Yelling and whining and stealing
each other's food and all that kinda stuff. And so let's say hello
to our family members of Cass, Cullen and Carlisle. Friends, good
to see you again."
The 1969-78 TTTT never
had permanent, assigned chairs for its panelists, only designated
seating for each taping week. But during the show's second season,
Bill Cullen made an on-air mistake that caused a permanent change
in the way the panelists were introduced. Up until that point, the
cast always had been introduced Cullen-Peggy Cass-guest-Kitty Carlisle
no matter who sat where behind the desk. So it was up to Bill to
know where to go; the other panelists just had to follow his lead.
But on a Thursday show in which that's week's established seating
order had been Carlisle-Gene Rayburn-Cass-Cullen, Bill walked to
the first chair instead of the fourth and…sure enough, everybody
followed his lead. The show went on with the cast in the reverse
order and nobody said a thing. But during the show's closing credits
mill-around, producer Mark Goodson -- who hadn't played any on-camera
role during that episode -- could be seen speaking sternly with
Bill, then walking offstage. To prevent the same control-room-freakout-inducing
gaffe from happening again, the opening walkons were immediately
altered: the panelist sitting in the first chair during the week
would be introduced first, the second-chair panelist next, and so
forth. Each cast member just had to go to the first available seat
in the line, and they were all set.
Even with the foolproof solution, there were still occasional flubs.
One Monday show from the fifth season has the panel being introduced
Bill Cullen-Peggy Cass-Roger Grimsby-Kitty Carlisle. But once onstage,
Cass and Cullen somehow got mixed up and the panel ended up seated
Cass-Cullen-Grimsby-Carlisle. That mistake was set right during
the first commercial break. It may have been one thing to have the
panel lined up in the wrong order, but when the males and females
weren't alternating properly, something had to be done straightaway…
The original set for
the syndicated series sure was fashionable for its time, just not
necessarily popular among the cast and viewers. One fan wrote in
to say that the psychedelic set and rock music spoiled the show
and were insulting to the panel, especially to -- for some reason
-- Kitty Carlisle. Garry Moore seemed to agree, at least about the
set: during a segment featuring a lumberjack, Garry offered to chop
it down, saying, "I've always hated this set!" (Bill Cullen could
be heard offscreen seconding the opinion.) And while Garry ultimately
declined to destroy the set due to its expense, within a few weeks
the backdrop had been repainted anyway to a tamer solid blue with
pink and yellow accents.
If the snazzy new
1969 "To Tell the Truth" was on firm footing with its
first episode, the second show was a slam-dunk. After a segment
featuring Ugandan princess Elizabeth of Toro, Garry Moore teased
the following spot by saying Peggy Cass would be very interested
to know the next contestant (suggested Orson Bean: "He's a
bartender!"). As it turned out, the second contestant was Larston
Farrar, a computer dating match up for Ms. Cass. Throughout the
questioning, the cast seemed visibly thrilled with the comedic possibilities
of the game, and just about everybody managed to get in a quip --
Show number 2: Garry Moore introducing Larston Farrar
Bean, questioning one contestant: "Are you familiar with a
White Rose Bar?"
three describing his idea of a great evening: "...a couple
of cocktails, a good dinner in a nice place, and then...and then..."
Carlisle, while casting her vote for number two: "He's looking
at Peggy with a hungry look!"
Moore, detailing the evening at hand: "If you pick the right man,
if you and the computer agree on who is your perfect mate, 'To Tell
the Truth' is going to guarantee that next Saturday night will definitely
not be the loneliest night in your week. Listen to what we have
planned for you. Remember all bets are off if you have not picked
the right Mr. Right. Now first of all we will put at your disposal
for the entire evening any automobile of your choice...provided
it's over 100 years old. If you want a Rolls (and) it's over 100
years old, okay. In this magnificent vehicle you'll be driven to
the bustling west side of Manhattan Island where you will board
a luxury ferry to cross the sparkling blue waters of the Hudson
River. Once on the other shore you and your escort will be our guest
at any night spot of your choosing in fabled downtown Behawken.
How does that sound to you?"
the reveal: "Just because she didn't get you right, you can
still have her!"
For her part, Peggy
Cass was so nervous that she was aglow in perspiration throughout
the segment and refused to wear her ever-present glasses. A nifty
game that helped kick off a fantastic series.
On the original series,
Bud Collyer had been reliably stalwart and always ready to interject
a pun, but didn't exactly participate in any panel's shenanigans.
Garry Moore not only participated, he instigated shenanigans.
He seemed to revel in the chance to wreak respectable havoc. Among
his best hoaxes -- playing back a Jack Benny impersonator's telephone
chat with a clueless Kitty Carlisle; convincing the panel they were
expected to train the poisonous snakes located in nearby baskets;
being the willing victim of a stage-crashing pickpocket. Garry's
mischief-making brought the program a new level of fun and intimacy.
The Garagiola Connection
Joe Garagiola wasn't
on the panel until the fourth season and didn't become host until
the eighth. But he was a presence from the very first week, when
his wife Audrie was the show's very first spouse-of-the-famous contestant
(a holdover from the previous series, the relatives of the famous
segment initially appeared once a week or so but was phased out
within the first ten weeks). Toward the end of the first season,
he and Henry Morgan were disguised as little old ladies in a segment
featuring an undercover patrolman, a ruse that would be tried again
three years later with Garagiola on the panel and Joe Garagiola,
Jr. in disguise...along with Kitty Carlisle's son Chris.
Littlefeather, Vampires, and Kirby (oh my!)
One of the more bizarre
segments of the second season had to be the appearance of central
character Sacheen Littlefeather. Three years before becoming very
well-known for accepting the Academy Award for a protesting Marlon
Brando, Littlefeather had just won the title of Miss Vampire and
a week's acting job on "Dark Shadows". Following the game,
the entire professional cast and Littlefeather put on a sketch set
in an 1876 graveyard. Kitty Carlisle and Garry Moore played Littlefeather's
parents, concerned that their daughter had come back so pale and
changed from Eerie University. The best line --
am truly a vampire! And I am going to go through this city sucking
blood and wreaking havoc among all people."
Carlisle (to Moore): "See? And you said she was lazy..."
Cass, meantime, bereaved
over the loss of her husband, is speaking to his casket when the
lid opens and Durward Kirby pops out, a surprise to everyone in
One has to marvel
at the mere idea of Durward Kirby as a surprise celebrity guest
star. Oh my, how TV has changed.
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Page created 03/23/06
© 2003-16 by Marshall Akers