Betty White led me down a deep hole of game shows
I’ve always liked game shows—I grew up watching The Price Is Right, Jeopardy!, and Wheel of Fortune. However, until recently, I hadn’t sought out earlier shows. That changed last month, after Betty White passed away, and my YouTube suggestions were flooded with shows she had been in, including Password. From there, I fell down a deep, deep hole of game shows from the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Search for Password, What’s My Line, or To Tell the Truth on YouTube, and you’ll get thousands of hits—decades worth of TV, full episodes available instantly. Sometimes, the episodes even have the original commercials included.
Of those, I think my favorite is What’s My Line, which employed a panel of celebrities to try to guess the occupation of guests that came on the show. The lines of questioning could very easily and quickly turn hilarious. I recently showed an episode to my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, who are about 21 years old. The show always had one celebrity mystery guest, and I wanted to pick an episode with a celebrity they would know. They didn’t know Jerry Lewis, Desi Arnaz, or Jane Fonda. Finally, I found one with someone they would have at least heard of—Ronald Reagan. Of course, in this context, in 1953, he was absolutely nothing like what they knew of him.
My wife got me the board game version of Password for my birthday a few weeks ago. It comes with enough words to play it for years, and with the exception of not having a host like Alan Ludden at my disposal, it’s just as fun as it is to play along with the TV show.