WML featured a team of four panelists who weekly would rise to the challenge of guessing the occupations (or "lines") of three guests by asking yes or no questions. Each time they received a "no" answer the guest would get an amount of money. 10 "no" answers and the guest would have stumped the panel and would walk away with $50. Each show also featured at least one mystery celebrity guest (usually an actor, but sometimes a singer, athlete or political figure) who would disguise his or her voice while the blindfolded panel would try to guess who the mystery guest was. After the mystery guest's identity was revealed the panel would often discuss the celebrity's recent TV appearances or film credits.
There were also celebrities on the panel. There were three regular panelist (pictured above) which featured Arlene Francis (at left, a stage actress), Bennett Cerf (at top, co-founder of Random House publishing) and Dorothy Kilgallen (at right, journalist and columnist). The fourth panelist was usually another celebrity, one time they even had Frank Sinatra join them!
The life of the show was really the show moderator John Charles Daly (at bottom in photo, reporter/newscaster and journalist) who kept the rowdy panel in line and enjoyed watching them get stumped. What fun they all have!
So what guests did the show feature exactly? Absolutely everyone who was anyone! Here's just a few guests pictures with links to where you can watch their special appearances on YouTube.
American sweetheart, actress Debbie Reynolds. Starlet of such lovely films as Singin' In The Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Miss Reynolds appeared on WML at least three times and was proclaimed queen of voice disguises. My favorite appearance features her as a blond imitating Hungarian born actress Zsa Zsa Gabor. You can watch it here.
Funny girl, the spunky Doris Day. A lovely voice and talented actress, Ms. Day stared in such great films as On Moonlight Bay, By The Light Of The Silvery Moon, The Glass Bottom Boat and Do Not Disturb. She appeared on WML at least twice and had a hard time fooling the panel with her distinctive voice. You can see an appearance here.
Charming southern gentleman Andy Griffith. Known best for his role as Sheriff Taylor, Mr. Griffith's southern drawl is hard to disguise but he had lots of fun in both of his appearances on WML. You can watch my favorite here.
Darling Dezi Arnaz & Lucille Ball. You probably know them best from "I Love Lucy" fame but they were popular long before that in movies and radio. They tried their hand at stumping the panel when they appeared together but always did a better job when they appeared separately. I love Lucy too, she's so funny! You can view my favorite here.
Lovely songstress Julie Andrews. Before her role in Sound of Music, Ms. Andrews delighted audiences on stage starring as Eliza Doolittle in Broadway's My Fair Lady. Her appearance on WML is simply delightful, you can see it here.
Country star team Dale Evans & Roy Rogers. This real husband and wife team are my absolute favorite mystery guests. They appeared at various times by themselves but together they are even sweeter. Genuine down to earth folks who were kind and true Christians in their real lives. They are so much fun to watch here.
So many other wonderful and talented actors, singers, musicians, athletes and even a politician or two graced "What's My Line?" during the 1950's and 1960's! Including but not limited to: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Greer Garson, Mickey Rooney, Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope, Gene Kelly, Yul Brynner, Angela Lansbury, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock, Colonel Sanders (KFC founder), former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and even the man who voiced the original Donald Duck!
Lots of good clean fun! It is my new favorite show and I highly recommend you enjoy the clips I linked to this post and go over to YouTube and enjoy the hundreds of clips that are there! I learned so much about movie and theater history and the lives of those connected to it. I'm sure you can find your favorite silver screen actor or actress! :)