CLOSE
Original image
NBC Television - eBay, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

11 Fun Facts About Match Game

Original image
NBC Television - eBay, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

As ABC readies to relaunch Match Game with Alec Baldwin at the helm, we’re looking back at the classic version of the game—back when Standards and Practices were so stringent that the slightest hint at innuendo that slipped past the censors was hilarious, when Gene Rayburn routinely broke the fourth wall, when wardrobe malfunctions were limited to a flash of underwear, and Rayburn’s microphone was an object of overcompensating curiosity begging to be analyzed by Sigmund Freud.

Match Game, which was the most watched daytime show for four years straight, was—as Charles Nelson Reilly once said—less of a game show and more of a social engagement.

1. IT BEGAN IN A CONFERENCE ROOM.

During a corporate “creative” meeting in the early 1960s, Goodson-Todman staffer Frank Wayne had an idea. “Try this,” he said to his co-workers at the conference table, “write down something about an elephant—and try to write the same thing that you think the others will.” Several different answers came up— “it’s grey,” “it’s big”—but two people wrote “it has a trunk.” Mark Goodson was intrigued with the concept of a game where there were no right or wrong answers and only matching answers scored points. Thus, The Match Game was born.

2. ITS EARLY TECHNOLOGY LEFT SOMETHING TO BE DESIRED.

The Match Game debuted in December 1962, with Gene Rayburn as the host and Bert Kaempfert’s catchy “A Swingin’ Safari” as the theme song. The game pitted two teams of three (one celebrity and two civilians) against each other, with points being won if team members’ answers matched one another. Game show technology was still in its infancy, so even though they had electronic signs to indicate a “match” and the number of points, players had to raise their hands to alert the host that they were ready to show their answer.

3. A MAD WRITER’S “SAUCE” QUESTION MADE THE GAME SAUCIER.

Dick DeBartolo was a Match Game question writer, and a freelance writer for MAD Magazine. The Match Game had been on the air for 10 months when Goodson approached DeBartolo to give him a “heads up” that ratings were sagging and NBC was hinting that the show would be canceled after its one-year contract was up. DeBartolo had a suggestion: why not put a silly, MAD sort of twist on their questions? He gave an example: “Mary likes to pour gravy on John’s ___.” (It was 1963, so of course the panelists would give answers like “mashed potatoes” or “meatloaf,” but the unspoken possibilities made the audience laugh.) Goodson started incorporating one or two “silly” questions per game, and the ratings steadily increased.

4. THE SHOW HAD SOME A-LIST CELEBRITY FANS.

When the show became a hit, everyone’s contracts were renewed and soon a variety of A-list celebrities were clamoring to play. The Match Game was taped in New York, so actors who were working on Broadway could easily slip away to tape a few shows on their days off. Lauren Bacall, Gloria Swanson, and Jayne Mansfield were just a few of the stars who served as team captains during the show’s original 1962 to 1969 run.

5. THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER WASN’T LOOKING FOR LAUGHS.

When the revamped version of Match Game came back to the airwaves in the summer of 1973 (the original version went off the air in 1969), it had a bigger set, a bigger selection of celebrities, and bigger cash prizes. Much had changed, but not the game play; in the beginning, it was still pretty straightforward (“Name a red flower”) like the 1960s version of the show. Executive producer Mark Goodson preferred it that way; when it came to his game shows, he was very rigid about rules and procedure. He even sent a lengthy memo to Gene Rayburn once, chastising him for clowning around and “getting laughs.” That didn’t stop the writing staff from slipping in the occasional double-entendre-type question.

6. SOME WORDS WERE FORBIDDEN.

Back in the 1970s, there were several words you couldn’t say on television. Match Game contestants and panelists were warned ahead of taping, for example, that they couldn’t say “urinate” or “pee”—only “tinkle” was acceptable. Likewise, any biologically correct word for the naughty bits of human anatomy were verboten, as Fannie Flagg found out one day when she wrote “genitalia” on her card. Director Ira Skutch stormed over to her when they cut the tape and advised her that this was her first and only warning. If she ever said anything of that ilk again, she’d be banned from the show.

7. THE KEY TO THE SHOW’S SUCCESS WAS IN THE CASTING.

The show was still finding its feet during the first few weeks of its return and had a revolving, disparate cast of celebrity panelists. It was decided that perhaps a couple of celebrity “regulars” for Rayburn to get to know well enough to develop a rapport with would also keep the audience tuning back in daily. Jack Klugman had been a reluctant panelist on the first week’s episodes, appearing only on the condition that his then-wife, Brett Somers, would be invited to appear in the future. “Brett is dying to get out of the house, you’d be doing me a favor,” he told Skutch. The gravelly voiced actress with the oversized glasses turned out to be a perfect fit for the show and became one of the three regular panelists.

Charles Nelson Reilly was an old friend of Rayburn’s—the two had worked together on Broadway in Bye, Bye Birdie—and Rayburn invited him to play, thinking his sly wit and flamboyant personality would make for an amusing panelist. British actor/comedian Richard Dawson was often sarcastic but had a quick mind and was a good game player; it didn’t hurt that he was also handsome and charming. He became the third permanent panelist. It wasn’t long before the three had more or less developed into “characters” that fit together like puzzle pieces—Somers and Reilly, the bickering couple, and Dawson, the droll matinee idol who kissed the female contestants.

8. THE SEATING CHART WAS CAREFULLY PLANNED.

Somers and Reilly occupied the middle and end chairs of the top tier, and Dawson was stationed in the center chair, bottom row. The remaining spots were filled by a variety of different celebrities, some of whom appeared almost semi-regularly. The first seat on the top row was reserved for a comedian or sitcom star, preferably a male. The fourth seat (first chair on the second tier) was called the “dummy seat” behind the scenes; the celeb in that chair was always the “ditzy blonde” type—think Loni Anderson or Suzanne Somers. The sixth seat was “the worst” according to the celebs who sat in it over the years; the previous five panelists have already used the best jokes or quips, and you were expected to be original. This “thinking person’s” spot was frequently filled by Betty White, Marcia Wallace, or Fannie Flagg.

9. THE EPISODES WERE FILMED MARATHON-STYLE, OVER A SINGLE WEEKEND.

No wonder the panelists often seemed a bit tipsy as their answers grew more outrageous—they frequently were. Rayburn lived on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and flew to Los Angeles every two weeks on Friday, and then the cast and crew proceeded to tape 12 shows over the weekend. With such an exhaustive schedule, the panelists (and host) tended to imbibe a bit during the lunch break … and the dinner break. (Depending upon what time of day the episode was taped, the Styrofoam cup a cast member was seen sipping from was frequently filled with vodka instead of water.) Despite his onscreen demeanor, however, Dawson did not indulge; his beverage of choice was always coffee. The cast never appeared to be outright bombed, but they were decidedly “looser” in some episodes…

10. THE PANELISTS ONCE PROTESTED AN ANSWER.

Despite all their wacky hijinks, the panelists still kept in mind that their goal was to try and win some money for the civilian contestants. So when the judge made an odd, arbitrary decision on the acceptability of “college” versus “finishing school” during a 1977 episode, the panelists went into full protest mode. Of course, today such anarchy would have been edited out prior to broadcast, but it was this type of spontaneity that kept viewers tuning in.

11. SOME CONTESTANTS WENT ON TO BECOME CELEBRITIES.

ChiPs actress Brianne Leary competed on a 1976 episode and won a little over $9000. (She appeared as a celebrity panelist three years later, the only civilian to do so.) While she was a struggling actress Kirstie Alley from Wichita, Kansas (who listed her occupation as “interior designer”) paid her bills by appearing on TV game shows. In 1979 she won some big bucks (and an approving leer from Rayburn) as a Match Game contestant.

Additional Source:
The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blank

Original image
iStock
arrow
Lists
10 Regional Twists on Trick-or-Treating
Original image
iStock

Walk around any given American neighborhood on the night of October 31, and you’ll likely hear choruses of "trick-or-treat" chiming through the area. The sing-songy phrase is synonymous with Halloween in some parts of the world, but it's not the only way kids get sweets from their neighbors this time of year. From the Philippines to the American Midwest, here are some regional door-to-door traditions you may not have heard of.

1. PANGANGALULUWA // THE PHILIPPINES

Rice cakes wrapped in leaves.
Suman

The earliest form of trick-or-treating on Halloween can be traced back to Europe in the Middle Ages. Kids would don costumes and go door-to-door offering prayers for dead relatives in exchange for snacks called "soul cakes." When the cake was eaten, tradition held that a soul was ferried from purgatory into heaven. Souling has disappeared from Ireland and the UK, but a version of it lives on halfway across the world in the Philippines. During All Saints Day on November 1, Filipino children taking part in Pangangaluluwa will visit local houses and sing hymns for alms. The songs often relate to souls in purgatory, and carolers will play the part of the souls by asking for prayers. Kids are sometimes given rice cakes called suman, a callback to the soul cakes from centuries past.

2. PÃO-POR-DEUS // PORTUGAL

Raw dough.
iStock

Instead of trick-or-treating, kids in Portugal go door-to-door saying pão-por-deus ("bread for god") in exchange for goodies on All Saints Day. Some homeowners give out money or candy, while others offer actual baked goods.

3. HALLOWEEN APPLES // WESTERN CANADA

Kids trick-or-treating.
iStock

If they're not calling out "trick-or-treat" on their neighbors’ doorsteps on Halloween night, you may hear children in western Canada saying "Halloween apples!" The phrase is left over from a time when apples were a common Halloween treat and giving out loose items on the holiday wasn't considered taboo.

4. ST. MARTIN'S DAY // THE NETHERLANDS

The Dutch wait several days after Halloween to do their own take on trick-or-treating. On the night of November 11, St. Martin's Day, children in the Netherlands take to the streets with their homemade lanterns in hand. These lanterns were traditionally carved from beets or turnips, but today they’re most commonly made from paper. And the kids who partake don’t get away with shouting a few words at each home they visit—they’re expected to sing songs to receive their sugary rewards.

5. A PENNY FOR THE GUY // THE UK

Guy Fawkes Night celebration.

Peter Trimming, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Guy Fawkes Night is seen by some as the English Protestants’ answer to the Catholic holidays associated with Halloween, so it makes sense that it has its own spin on trick-or-treating. November 5 marks the day of Guy Fawkes’s failed assassination attempt on King James as part of the Gunpowder Plot. To celebrate the occasion, children will tour the neighborhood asking for "a penny for the guy." Sometimes they’ll carry pictures of the would-be-assassin which are burned in the bonfires lit later at night.

6. TRICKS FOR TREATS // ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

Kids knocking on a door in costume.
iStock

If kids in the St. Louis area hope to go home with a full bag of candy on Halloween, they must be willing to tickle some funny bones. Saying "tricks-for-treats" followed by a joke replaces the classic trick-or-treat mantra in this Midwestern city. There’s no criteria for the quality or the subject of the joke, but spooky material (What’s a skeleton’s favorite instrument? The trombone!) earns brownie points.

7. ME DA PARA MI CALAVERITA // MEXICO

Sugar skulls with decoration.
iStock

While Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is completely separate from Halloween, the two holidays share a few things in common. Mexicans celebrate the day by dressing up, eating sweet treats, and in some parts of the country, going house-to-house. Children knocking on doors will say "me da para mi calaverita" or "give me money for my little skull," a reference to the decorated sugar skulls sold in markets at this time of year.

8. HALLOWEEN! // QUEBEC, CANADA

Kids dressed up for Halloween.
iStock

Trick-or-treaters like to keep things simple in the Canadian province of Quebec. In place of the alliterative exclamation, they shout “Halloween!” at each home they visit. Adults local to the area might remember saying "la charité s’il-vous-plaît "(French for “charity, please”) when going door-to-door on Halloween, but this saying has largely fallen out of fashion.

9. SWEET OR SOUR // GERMANY

Little girl trick-or-treating.
iStock

Halloween is only just beginning to gain popularity in Germany. Where it is celebrated, the holiday looks a lot like it does in America, but Germans have managed to inject some local character into their version of trick-or-treat. In exchange for candy, kids sometimes sing out "süß oder saures"—or "sweet and sour" in English.

10. TRIQUI, TRIQUI HALLOWEEN // COLOMBIA

Kids dressed up for Halloween.
Rubí Flórez, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Kids in Colombia anticipate dressing up and prowling the streets on Halloween just as much as kids do in the States. There are a few significant variations on the annual tradition: Instead of visiting private residencies, they're more likely to ask for candy from store owners and the security guards of apartment buildings. And instead of saying trick-or-treat, they recite this Spanish rhyme:

Triqui triqui Halloween
Quiero dulces para mí
Si no hay dulces para mí
Se le crece la naríz

In short, it means that if the grownups don't give the kids the candy they're asking for, their noses will grow. Tricky, tricky indeed

Original image
Warner Home Video
arrow
entertainment
11 Thrilling Facts About Dial M for Murder
Original image
Warner Home Video

In 1953 Alfred Hitchcock was looking for a new project after a film he’d been developing fell through. Sensing a need to go back to his safe space of murderous thrillers, he opted to adapt a stage play that had already proved to be a hit on British television. Though he had no particular attachment to the project, Dial M for Murder would ultimately become one of Hitchcock’s best-known—and best-loved—classics.

From the film’s use of 3D to the debut of Grace Kelly in Hitchcock’s filmography to a pivotal murder sequence that made the director lose weight from stress, here are 11 facts about Dial M for Murder.

1. IT’S BASED ON A STAGE PLAY.

Dial M for Murder is, in terms of locations and number of characters, a relatively sparse film that barely leaves its primary set. This is because it was based on a stage play by Frederick Knott, which premiered as a BBC TV special in 1952 and later opened at London’s Westminster Theater and, eventually, Broadway. After seeing the BBC production, producer Sir Alexander Korda purchased the rights to make the film version, and later sold them to Warner Bros. for $75,000.

2. ALFRED HITCHCOCK THOUGHT HE WAS “COASTING” WHEN HE MADE THE FILM.

By 1953, when Dial M for Murder arrived at Warner Bros., Hitchcock was developing a project called The Bramble Bush, the story of a man who steals another man’s passport, only to find out that the original owner is wanted for murder. Hitchcock wrestled with the story for a while, but was never satisfied with it. When Dial M for Murder landed at the studio, Hitchcock knew the play had been a hit, and opted to direct it. As he later told fellow director François Truffaut, he found the film to be “coasting, playing it safe,” as he was already known as a thriller filmmaker.

3. IT’S HITCHCOCK’S ONLY 3D FILM.

In the early 1950s, the 3D movie craze was raging, and Warner Bros. was eager to pair it with the fame of Hitchcock. So, the director was ordered to use the process on Dial M for Murder. This meant Hitchcock had to work with the giant cameras necessary for the process, but there was also a trade-off that makes the film fascinating—even in 2D. In order to make the film look appropriately interesting in 3D, Hitchcock added a pit into the floor of the set, so the camera could move at lower angles and captures objects like lamps in the foreground. As a result, the film looks like no other Hitchcock ever shot, particularly for the infamous scissors murder that’s the film's thrilling centerpiece. Unfortunately, by the time Dial M for Murder was released in 1954, the 3D fad was dying out, so the film was shown in 2D at most screenings.

4. IT WAS HITCHCOCK’S FIRST FILM WITH GRACE KELLY.

Of all of the iconic blonde stars Hitchcock cast in his films, the most famous is almost undoubtedly Grace Kelly, the actress-turned-princess who first joined him for this film. Hitchcock once described Kelly as a "rare thing in movies ... fit for any leading-lady part,” and it was said he had the easiest working relationship with her of any star. They worked so well together that they went on to make two more films, Rear Window in 1954 and To Catch a Thief in 1955.

5. IT TAKES PLACE ALMOST ENTIRELY INDOORS.

Because Dial M for Murder is based on a stage play, the original script had very little in the way of outdoor set pieces. Hitchcock wanted to keep it that way, as he later explained to Truffaut:

“I’ve got a theory on the way they make pictures based on stage plays; they did it with silent pictures, too. Many filmmakers would take a stage play and say, ‘I’m going to make this into a film.’ Then they would begin to ‘open it up.’ In other words, on the stage it was all confined to one set, and the idea was to do something that would take it away from the confined stage setting.”

Hitchcock wanted to keep the confinement intact, so almost all of the action in the film takes place indoors, largely in the Wendices' apartment. This adds to the intimacy and tension.

6. HITCHCOCK PERSONALLY CHOSE EVERY PROP.

Hitchcock was always known as a meticulous director obsessed with detail, but on Dial M for Murder he was particularly detail-oriented, in part because the 3D cameras were going to capture objects in a way his other films hadn’t. As a result, he selected all of the objects in the Wendice apartment himself, and even had a giant false telephone dial made for the famous “M” close-up in the title sequence.

7. KELLY’S WARDROBE GROWS DARKER ON PURPOSE.

Grace Kelly in 'Dial M for Murder' (1954)
Warner Home Video

Hitchcock’s exacting eye also led to an elaborate “color experiment” to portray the psychological condition of Kelly’s character. As the film begins, the colors she wears are all very bright, suggesting a happy life in which she doesn’t suspect anything is wrong. As the film grows darker for her, to the point that she’s framed for murder, the wardrobe grows darker and “more somber,” as Hitchcock put it.

8. KELLY WON A PARTICULAR WARDROBE ARGUMENT.

For the scene in which Swann (Anthony Dawson) attempts to murder Margot (Kelly) by strangling her (until she manages to stab him with a pair of scissors), Hitchcock had another exacting wardrobe request. He had an elegant velvet robe made for Kelly, hoping to create interesting textural effects as the lights and shadows played off the fabric while she fought for her life. Kelly reasoned that, since Margot was alone in the apartment (as far as she knew) and was only getting out of bed to answer the phone, she wouldn’t bother to put on a robe.

“I said I wouldn't put on anything at all, that I'd just get up and go to the phone in my nightgown. And [Hitchcock] admitted that was better, and that's the way it was done,” Kelly later recalled.

9. HITCHCOCK WAS SO NERVOUS ABOUT THE PIVOTAL SCENE THAT HE LOST WEIGHT.

Dial M for Murder was shot in just 36 days, but the director took special care with one scene in particular: the murder sequence in which Margot stabs Swann with the scissors. Not only was it a key scene in the film, but it was also a moment that required particular care to make the 3D effects work. Hitchcock agonized over the scene to such a degree that he apparently lost 20 pounds during filming.

"This is nicely done but there wasn't enough gleam to the scissors, and a murder without gleaming scissors is like asparagus without the hollandaise sauce—tasteless,” he reportedly said after one take.

10. HITCHCOCK MAKES HIS CAMEO IN A PHOTOGRAPH.

Hitchcock became known throughout his career for making cameos in his films, ranging from the very subtle (you can see his silhouette in neon outside the window in Rope) to the more elaborate (missing the bus in the opening sequence of North by Northwest). In Dial M for Murder, his cameo falls somewhere in between. He appears in a class reunion photo in the Wendice apartment, seated at a banquet table among other men.

11. IT’S BEEN REMADE FOUR TIMES.

Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow in 'A Perfect Murder' (1998)
Warner Bros.

Dial M for Murder was a film adaptation of a stage play that had also already been adapted for television in Britain, and it proved popular enough that four more adaptations followed. In 1958, NBC broadcast a Hallmark Hall of Fame production, in which both Anthony Dawson and John Williams returned to play Swann and Chief Inspector Hubbard, respectively. A 1967 ABC television production of the play co-starred Laurence Harvey and Diane Cilento. A television movie starring Angie Dickinson and Christopher Plummer was produced in 1981, and in 1998 the play served as the inspiration for the film A Perfect Murder, starring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios