Thing I Love: What’s My Line?


I’ve been fighting off a terrible cold this week. I’ll spare you all the details, but it meant that I called in sick to work for the first time ever yesterday, and spent a lot of time half asleep trying to find something to put on as background noise. I found the best thing – old episodes of What’s My Line? On YouTube.

For those of you who don’t know (which would have included me until yesterday) What’s My Line? Was a CBS panel game show that ran from 1950 to 1967, and it was amazing. The basic premise was pretty simple, people from all over America with interesting jobs came and with nothing to go on a panel of celebrity intellectuals and comedians tried to guess their “lines” using yes or no questions. And it was amazing.

Obviously the show was from a different time, I mean I just used the term “celebrity intellectuals” to describe the panel, which isn’t really a thing we have in the same way anymore. The head of Random House, Bennett Cerf, was well-known enough to be a permanent member of the panel, I consider myself a book person, I couldn’t tell you the name of the head of Random House.

That’s not say that everything about What’s My Line? Was highbrow – it’s signature round was a celebrity guessing game that elevated actors and other performers above all the other “regular” people on the show, but they did manage to get some amazing people that would never be on another game show like:

The best part of the show, in my opinion, is the formality of it all. I know that social conventions were stifling and often sexist, but there is something really delightful about all these men in tuxedos and women in cocktail dresses calling each other Mr. and Mrs.

Many episodes are available on YouTube and you should check them out.


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