I am an insomniac. I don't sleep easy and I suppose I am also a "light sleeper." It's nothing the occasional shot of Nyquil can't cure, but it does keep me up sometimes.
There is some good in this, LATE NIGHT TV!
I'm not talking about Letterman or even Carson Daily I mean LATE.
Some of the strangest television comes on after 2pm. Infomercials are shown for products so stupid that no one could ever have any use for them. I suppose the idea is that at 2am ANYTHING sounds like a good idea. It's true. I have been sucked in myself.
INFOMERCIAL: You flip but they flop, you flip but they flop. Now your pancakes are a mess!
ME: Oh my god you're right! My pancakes are never perfectly symmetrical! I am so ashamed of the life I led before. Thank you for saving me Perfect Pancake Maker.
One of the other things I like to watch at night are old black and white game shows shown on GSN.
GSN used to be called the game show network, but now they just say GSN: The Network for Games. During the day they rarely play game shows instead they have become ANOTHER network showing people playing poker all day. I hope this fad doesn't die out before Animal Planet decides to do the inevitable "Dogs Playing Poker" show.
Anyway, at least good game shows can be found at night... LATE AT NIGHT.
One of my favorites is the show "What's My Line". It's a really fun show that ran for almost 18 years starting in 1950. Here is an episode that was shown recently:
The show was sponsored by "Poof" a deodorant product made by "Stopette". I am pretty sure "Stoppette" is long gone today, but they introduced a groundbreaking idea in antiperspirant: THE SPRAY BOTTLE.
Before this deodorant was available in three forms; lotions, powders and "keeping your arms at your sides."
The sponsors name was displayed on the large desk that the panel sat behind. The panel on this night featured Dorothy Kilgallen, Steve Allen, Arlene Francis, and Bennett Cerf. You probably all know Steve Allen, as for the rest of them just keep in mind "they were really famous before you were born."
The host was Mr. John Daly. I am not sure when we stopped calling game show hosts "Mr." but it was a good touch it made him seem so important.
The show was pretty simple. A contestant would come out and the panel would try to guess their occupation. For every "no" answer the contestant gave, he/she won $5 (which was enough money to buy a new home in 1950.) The maximum prize (if you stumped the panel) was $50. With that much money you could buy a controlling interest in "Poof" and then sadly watch your money disappear as you curse the name of "Right Guard".
The first contestant Mrs. Wilma Sacremento came out and signed in on the chalk board. (You may have heard the phrase "will our mystery guest enter and sign in please" used satirically in a film or TV show. THIS is where that phrase came from.)
Wilma is pretty hot and so wolf whistles come from the crowd and Steve is almost drooling on the desk. REMEMBER: it would be considered rude NOT to be a sexist pig back then.
Wilma is a "traffic cop", an occupation the panel is able guess before she bankrupts the network by taking the $50. Wilma then walks off the show, but INTO my dreams as the sexy, black and white police officer.
I've been a bad boy Wilma, you'd better handcuff me.
Contestant two is Jack Sirkin he "Makes Hair Growing Lotion". Jack is from Newark, NJ and is BALD.
Yup, the audience laughs at him. Jack you are a fool. We pity you. Jack sells 'HAYR for HAIR', a product that worked so well that Jack figured when the show is re-run 50 years later at 3:30am millions of hairy people would watch the show thinking of him as their patron saint. Yes, Jack expected children to ask their parents "what was baldness?" and the parent would say "I don't know, but I bet Jack Sirken would know. He was the greatest man that ever lived that is why we put him on the dollar bill."
The panel guesses the occupation again (once again it's Arlene Francis that gets it) and after a few jabs at his hairline we have our MYSTERY GUEST.
The mystery guests on this game were always HUGE stars. I can't stress that enough. This wasn't like a Hollywood Squares line up; these were the top names in show business.
Lucille Ball, Alfred Hitchcock, Roy Rogers, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Hope, Tony Curtis and Sammy Davis, Jr. all appeared as mystery guest at some point. Today, it was Art Carney.
For this segment the panel is blindfolded.
Art does (as most mystery guests did) a fake voice to make him harder to guess. For some odd reason Art is wearing his Ed Norton get up for the show (the sewer worker, not the guy from Death to Smoochy.)
It is Bennett who finally guesses that it is Carney, but he calls him Al Carney. Everyone laughs at Bennett (except Jack Sirkin- he's still crying in the corner.)
With just a few minutes left in the 30 minute broadcast they bring out Timothy J. Turpin he is a "Pizza Pie Factory Manager".
Turpin also looks like Joe McCarty, a fact the panel finds amusing. Unfortunately they run out of time and give Turpin the entire $50 prize. Sadly they show ends before we see Turpin rolling around covered in money. I know that's what I do whenever someone hands me money (that's also why I am not allowed at the bank.)
So, any other "What's My Line" fans in the hizz-ouse?