Show Notes
"To Tell The Truth", 1969-78
Revised 07/24/11

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The First Show
Namesakes
Carol Burnett's on "To Tell the Truth"
Royal Order of the Rubber Doughnut
That Soupy Sales is Such A Drag
Opening Remarks
Tom Poston's Last Show
Assigned Seating
Kitty's Helpful Hints
Assigned Setting
Mark Twain Said It So Well...
Cassting a Line
Whom To Believe?
The Trickster
She Was Nice To Mice
The Garagiola Connection
Excuses, Excuses
Littlefeather, Vampires, and Kirby (oh my!)

 

The First Show

From 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.

 

Carol Burnett on "To Tell The Truth"

Carol 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...

The 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".

The 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!"



That Soupy Sales is Such a Drag

Soupy 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

In 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:

Tom 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."

Number 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."

Poston: "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?"

Number 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."

Peggy Cass: "This is his little girl..."

Poston: "I probably didn't make that clear, but she's only three years old!"

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 she wept.

But wait, there's more...

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:

Number Three: "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."

Cass: "That's not my way I sleep!"

Number Three: "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 and everything!"

Moore: "Somehow or other this whole thing has gone out the window!"

Poston: "Who's 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.

Moore: "I've got a whole long thing here to read. I can't possibly...go to commercial..."

And they did.

 

 

Kitty's Helpful Hints

Kitty 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.

One of her most esoterically comic pep talks occurred during a spot featuring a young man who survived after having been bitten by a poisonous snake:

"…I'm 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..."

<turning 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>

Of 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.



Mark Twain Said It So Well...

Never 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:

"Well…I'll 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?

When 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...

 

She 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.

 

Excuses, Excuses

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 the costs."

1975: "...on tour with the roller derby."

1976: "...yielded to a very tempting fee and is speaking at the unveiling of a manhole cover."

 

Namesakes

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!

 

Royal 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."

 

Opening Remarks

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."

 

Assigned Seating

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…

 

Assigned Setting

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.

 

Cassting a Line

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 & impostors

Orson Bean, questioning one contestant: "Are you familiar with a White Rose Bar?"

Number three describing his idea of a great evening: "...a couple of cocktails, a good dinner in a nice place, and then...and then..."

Kitty Carlisle, while casting her vote for number two: "He's looking at Peggy with a hungry look!"

Garry 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?"

Carlisle, following 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.


The Trickster

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 --

Littlefeather: "I 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 the cast.

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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