Thursday, June 13, 2013

Oldie But Goodie: Allan Sherman's Mystery Guest Appearance on What's My Line?


This year we've been giving a lot of attention to Allan Sherman, whose Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah parody of life in sleepaway camp was released 50 years ago. We've posted a few rare unreleased recordings collected by Mark Cohen, who just published Overweight Sensation, his biography of the singer and parodist.

We're not finished with the unreleased recordings -- there are still a few waiting in the wings -- but today we thought you'd like to see an episode of What's My Line?, the long-running TV panel game show, the day that Allan Sherman was the mystery guest. This was made possible because a YouTube member known only as romeman01 posted 121 What's My Line? episodes last week, for which we thank him.

Sherman was the mystery guest on the March 15, 1964, episode of the popular panel program, hosted by John Daly, than ran for 17 years (1950-1967) on CBS. The panelists who try to guess his identity are Dorothy Kilgallen, Steve Lawrence, Arlene Francis, and Robert Q. Lewis. The voice that Sherman parodies for most of the appearance was that adopted by Frankie Fontaine, himself a noted comedian who worked in radio with Jack Benny and in television with Jackie Gleason. In the end, even though Sherman uses his own voice in order to give himself away, he still manages to create a warm, delightful moment as a befuddled panel gains a sudden moment of clarity. 

Besides the fun of Sherman's appearance, the episode is a rare look back at what television was like in the 1950s and 1960s. We were surprised to see the low stakes as every wrong guess added $5 (yes, five dollars) to the amount the guest received. Also, we wonder if the parting kiss on the cheek given to the female panelists (they all shook hands) would fly today.

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)