Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A Whole Litter of Kitty

Miss Kitty Carlisle of To Tell the Truth fame was one of our earliest recipients of a tribute in The Underworld. We always did admire her and enjoy her contributions to the show (and to the arts in general), but as of late we've really been immersing ourselves in vintage eps of TTTT because two 25-minutes episodes can be viewed on our phone over these cold lunch hours spent in the office break area. (We've been experiencing zero and sub-zero temps as of late and only want to curl up in a chair and chillax rather than venture out unless it's necessary!)

Watching so many of these early installments of the show, we've come to love our Kitty even more than before; something we didn't think was possible. Carlisle had something I always adore in a person which is a "thirst for knowledge." She enjoyed learning as much about, well, everything that she could and though there were occasionally topics she admittedly knew nothing about, she surely grew as a player and a person during her long tenure on the venerable game show.

Carlisle was remarkably generous of spirit, though she did have a point of view. She was also keenly intent on figuring out which of the show's contestants was the real person in question and could be quite pointed in her examination. But she also possessed a rich and delightful sense of humor and often could be seen tossing back that mane of black hair with a full-bodied guffaw.

This post is really all about her many looks over the years. Yes, she always had the sweeping dark hair, though it was augmented more than you might realize during the decades, and had a clear affinity for pearls and dark gowns. But she worked hard to create a TV-ready look from the waist up (in the early years), using all her own clothing, jewelry and doing her own hair and makeup. You'll see repeats of the baubles in this post. Later, she would be seen in full length, which required an even more detailed look from head to toe.

So here comes Kitty! I'll comment only when I get the urge or if explanation seems necessary.

This particular shot is from Kitty Carlisle's very first appearance on To Tell the Truth. Even then she was forty-six years of age.
You'll grow to recognize these pearls.
This fabulous necklace also turned up many times on the show.
This is another lovely necklace that she wore frequently.
Shown here casting her vote on the day episode as the photo above, we see here hairstyle from another angle.
This is a highly uncharacteristic appearance thanks to the chignon.
Strangely, the elegant 'do which looked good on many ladies somehow didn't suit Ms. Carlisle particularly well. It aged her and gave her a somewhat haughty look (and was rarely, if ever, seen again!)
This was another departure, a combo of necklaces worn in an almost Bohemian style with a boldly patterned dress.
Perfecting the "brown football helmet" look!
The neckline and shoulders are beginning to become more and more elaborate as the 1960s dawn.
Occasionally, she would go a tad too far even for me, which seems impossible, but this flower petal creation seems a bit over-watered by my assessment! Still, I wouldn't have it any other way.
A demonstration of her dogged determination, which could still be tempered by a raucous laugh if something amusing came along. I consider the ability to be able to laugh at oneself to be a life gift. Some people don't get it...
That intensity in the questioning is coming through here.
Channeling Rose Kennedy a bit in this look?
Often we'd be treated to an open, pleasant smile.
These last several photos are from an era in which the show was broadcast in color yet, to my eternal misery, the episodes themselves only exist in black & white copies except for a scant few! When I show you the color renditions, you will understand what a substantial difference it makes!
Not such a big deal here since she's seen in earth tones.
There is a touch of flower-power this time out. (Note the same necklace she wore so often in the early episodes.)
This is quite an eye-catching necklace (and who can beat that smile, one of her greatest accessories?!)
How about this hot pink get-up?
Or this classic, soft pink suit.
Now we're cooking. Look at the delirious colors of this print dress which could only be from the mid-1960s! (And dig that crazy costume jewelry necklace!)
One of Kitty's signatures was using a Roman numeral "one" whenever voting for that contestant.
The keyword here if bouffant.
Another angle of the previous style.
With the introduction of as new set, the celebrity panelists were shown entering the stage, so we were able to see the figure and entire ensemble of the stars. By now, Ms. C. was pushing sixty and still a knockout.
A daily daytime show afforded colorful, but simpler styles versus ostrich, marabou and the like.
On one highly-rare occasion, Miss Carlisle hosted a segment rather than appearing as a panelist. Female game show hosts were practically unheard of at the time.
A syndicated version, which often aired in the evenings, afforded a return to more elegant looks. I LOVE this necklace.
Sweet Jeebus! Even Joan Crawford might have hesitated to put this one on!
By now a black dress with pearls was a reliable, go-to look.
I loved it when she'd comb out a few ostriches and gussy up for the camera!
Another new set, but the pearls are still her faves.
Not that she didn't still occasionally dazzle in a less conventional piece of jewelry.
This was the day that host Garry Moore played a cruel trick on the panel and it gave us an indelible Kitty Carlisle moment.
The panel was given succulent and delicious Beef Stroganoff, prepared by a penny-pinching consumer/author. But just after most of them (the others being Bill Cullen, Peggy Cass and Gene Rayburn) had tasted it, they were informed that it had been made with dog food!
Kitty immediately spit hers back onto the fork and began to scream, though they were later informed that the whole thing had been a prank and that it was regular beef all along.
Glitzy in an embroidered caftan.
The video quality was so shitty, but I couldn't pass up this piece of neckwear!
Likewise I loved this glamorous look.
With the passing of host Garry Moore came a new one, Joe Garagiola (and perhaps a new face to go with?)
Yes, I do think there was some work done. By now, she was pushing seventy, but still killing it.
At last we got to see in color the necklace that she'd sported back in the mid-1950s! This was what she wore on Garry Moore's final show.
To Tell the Truth was forever being cancelled and then brought back in a new rendition. On the short-lived 1980-81 version, she was back for another go.
A decade later, there was another version that wasn't particularly long-lived, but which she took part in semi-regularly. Descending a large staircase, she was now introduced as "To Tell the Truth's very own Kitty Carlisle."
Now eighty, Carlisle looked smashing and had lost none of her skill or charm when it came to playing the game.
On the heels of the glamor-driven '80s, Carlisle was still eager to bring glitz to a TV landscape that had pretty much abandoned it.
That trademark laugh was still in place. And, look, there's one of her long ago necklaces making yet another glittering appearance!
What was really great was when her old costar from the show "actor and raconteur" Orson Bean would join in and escort her down the stairs. He'd been making her roar with laughter for decades and nothing much had changed in that regard.
A true LADY in a time when such things were diminishing rapidly, she, along with TTTT guest-starring veterans Betty White, Peggy Cass and Polly Bergen were a treat for longtime viewers of the show.
The show was trucked out again in 2000 and Miss C. with it for a final appearance on the program. She was then ninety years of age! This incarnation actually lasted a tad longer than some of the previous ones, but had definitely lost some of its luster and was off the air by 2002. Thankfully, dear Kitty was gone before the horrendous recent update hit the airwaves in 2016! Any semblance of taste was significantly absent by then.
If you're still with me now after all these pics, I give you a real treat. The video at this link gives me life. Some amazing person has gone and linked together a long line of Kitty Carlisle's entrances on the color rendition of To Tell the Truth. If you're a person who enjoyed Loretta Young's swirling entrances on her old anthology show, this is a must-see. Same goes for anyone who loves Ms. C. or any parade of vintage get-ups! She is gracefulness and panache personified in it and sports a tremendous figure for a woman in her late-fifties through her sixties. And don't miss the quote at the end! Enjoy, and I'll be back again soon.
To tell the truth... I adored you, KC!


DJWildBill said...

I met and assisted Kitty Carlisle when she last came through CVG. She was 98 at the time, very frail, and being escorted through the airport by an aid. He helped her stand so she could get through airport security. I knew it was her immediately even before seeing her boarding pass as her hair made her instantly recognizable. Advanced years took none of her grace, charm, poise, and dignity. It was my great honor to speak with her directly, having seen her on television all my life. I felt blessed and in awe of her presence.

I believe she passed within the year of her visit to Cincinnati. Thank God I was able to meet this wonderful lady!

Skippy Devereaux said...

I LOVE Kitty Carlisle, along with Arlene Francis, Joan Alexander, Dina Merrill, Julia Meade and Bess Myerson. These women had class, refinement and acted and dressed like ladies. Everything was perfect, the hair, make-up, clothes and the way they presented themselves. Thanks for a great post.

VanceMan said...

I twice met Kitty Carlisle Hart. At our first meeting, she was lively as all get out and -- I believe -- 90 years old. I remarked that we were both New Orleanians by birth. She thought I meant I had just escaped Hurricane Katrina (which had happened a few months prior) and she gave me a very warm hug. She also sang her signature song from A Night at the Opera, "Alone." And her voice was still in excellent shape.

The second time, a few years later, her age had caught up with her and I'm not sure she knew where she was (which was in Maryland.)

That said, I very much enjoyed this compact tribute to something that's in short supply these days: elegance.

VictorG said...

Thank you, Poseidon, for saluting a woman who defined the word "lady." I had the good fortune to meet Mrs. Hart, as she was known at the Actor's Fund where I worked in the 1990s. Kitty Carlisle Hart was on the board, and always chic in a Chanel suit with pearls and a brooch, a gorgeous coif and just as glamorous as your clips have immortalized her, from her days on TTTT and What's My Line. Aside from her beauty and graciousness she will always be remembered by this grateful New Yorker as the chair (for 20 years!!) of the NY State Council on the Arts. She signed my copy of her autobiography which I treasure, as well as the memories which you have shared of her wit, intelligence, humor and style on television.

Al in PDX said...

As someone who grew up in the 60s, I was at first unaware of the original source of fame for many of the regular panelists on game shows. A few years later, it was surprising to see Miss Carlisle show up in the classic "A Night at the Opera," one of the greatest Marx Brothers films. And even later, to learn that she was married to Moss Hart. Truly, a full life.

paintbrush said...

We had the pleasure of meeting her in Albany, NY where she performed in one of the theaters that was named for her in the Egg’s main building. There was a meet and greet after the show and she couldn’t have been more charming to us fans who surrounded her. Such a classy lady.

Poseidon3 said...

Hey, everyone! So happy to see an outpouring of love for this post and for Miss Carlisle Hart. It makes all the screencapping worth it! ;-) I am EXTREMELY jealous that so many of you had the chance to actually see or meet her in person!!

DJWildBill, how wonderful that you got to have that encounter before she was gone! Did you know that I am in Cincinnati, too? My picture was recently placed near the baggage terminal (how appropriate as I have a lot of "baggage!" LOL) at CVG as part of a work-health promotion. People have sent me selfies of themselves in front of it, which has been amusingly surreal.

Skippy, I'm right there with you. I am very close to the end, though, of a bio on Bess Myerson and she really went a bit off the rails as she got a bit older and involved in politics! I still want to kick myself for never having done an Arlene Francis tribute because she's a particular fave.

VanceMan, TWICE?! That's just incredible. I'm jealous. I hope you followed the link in the first paragraph to her original tribute here, which is far more in-depth about her life and career before and after TTTT.

VictorG, again, I am thrilled that you got to meet her and also that she measured up to your own and my perception of her from her many years on TV. God, I miss people like her.

Al, I agree with you and understand completely. As I was a tyke, on grandpa's knee, I had no clue on earth what Peggy Cass was supposed to be known for. I was well into my thirties before I ever saw "Auntie Mame!" I was in my forties before I ever saw Brett Somers in anything but "Match Game." (I think it was "Bus Riley's Back in Town.")

Paintbrush, the envy continues... I would have LOVED to have seen and met her. Awesome that you got to and have that memory. Thanks to you and the others for sharing your recollections!

Gingerguy said...

This is lovely Poseidon. I have always adored her since reading "Kitty" somewhere in my younger days. What a dame! It was mesmerizing to scroll through and keep your eyes focused on the hair silhouette. She always looked the same to me after the early 1960's but there actually were variations. Best pic is the fur coat on the shoulders. Evening clothes for daytime TV seems so fancy, or was TTTT broadcast at night? I mentioned previously her daughter is a Doctor and hosts arts related events at her Hospital. I recently attended one and their voices are very similar. Lovely, lovely.

hsc said...

I can't remember if I read this nugget in TV GUIDE or in some interview with Kitty Carlisle, but she confessed that one ensemble she wore was an act of desperation-- lacking a new outfit, she simply went to the taping wearing her fanciest nightgown and matching peignoir with heels and the standard display of jewelry.

While I know I watched the evening edition (Gingerguy, there were daytime/evening editions at first) of TTTT pretty regularly, the only contestant I can really recall was Frank Zane, who was not only a schoolteacher but a competitive bodybuilder.

You'd think that a pro bodybuilder would be fairly easy to spot, especially back in the days before guys started to work out, but I believe he stumped most if not all the panel.

He seemed smaller than the two impostors until the moment when the host said, "Will the REAL Frank Zane please... stand up!" and he not only stood up but stripped off his shirt and began to pose.

Always enjoyed Kitty Carlisle, and always enjoy this blog!

loulou de la falaise said...

What a great tribute, I loved Kitty too. I guess her and Bess were my favorites. Can't say I was ever that crazy about Arlene but always got a kick out of Peggy, and had forgotten how seriously Kitty played the actual game. These game show actresses seemed to be one hit wonders career wise and parlayed that into being a game show panelist. Even as a boy I wondered how Peggy Cass and Bess Palmer supported themselves. I read that Kitty had a late in life cabaret act, and wasn't Moss Hart gay? I'm not up on my gay history about him.

Gregory Moore said...

EPIC tribute to Our Miss Kitty! One of the greatest serendipitous friendships of my life was with Kitty Carlisle (which almost seems dreamlike, now that she's been gone a few years). We lived a block apart on East 64th Street in NYC. Her floor-through apartment was in one of the grandest "Grande Dame," white-glove buildings on The Upper East Side, as befit her perfectly. The first time I was invited to her home, I noted that it was the first apartment in New York I'd ever been in where the elevator opened right into the apartment (the apartment was immense, though I think there were two apartments per floor). As she was preparing to head out, she said, "Feel free to take a look at The Gallery"--a long hallway lined with paintings done by "some of my friends--such as Picasso, George Gershwin (with whom she hinted she was romantically attached, just before his tragically premature death), Noel Coward, Groucho Marx--and others of that ilk. Another time, she gave me a detailed tour of "Moss's office"--which she touchingly kept "as is," many decades after HIS premature death. She pointed out some eye-popping items (a silver teething ring from Tiffany's "..from Mrs. Onassis," for one). She was absolutely lovely, kind, generous, always curious..and a marvelous friend. I once asked her, "Are you ever able to go out on the street without getting in 'full Kitty Carlisle gear'?" She laughingly replied, "Well, not very often...though sometimes I'll pop across the street to the bank with no makeup and a "shmatta" (head scarf). No one recognizes me, since they think 'Kitty Carlisle would NEVER go out in public in a schmatta!" God bless you, were loved and you are missed.

Gingerguy said...

Sometimes I am so enamored of the subject matter that the hilarious title goes right over my head. This one was a delayed reaction (similar to "Morgan's Scared, Child" which kept me laughing for a week). Also Gregory Moore, that is one fabulous story about the graciousness of Kitty.

Poseidon3 said...

Hello again, round two commentors...! I have been out of town for a few days, exploring the wintry wonders of Indiana. LOL (Thankfully some wineries and hot tubs kept the chill off for much of the trip!)

Gingerguy, like you and I said, there were indeed surprising variations on the 'do, but she still maintained a certain iconic look. Someone else later noted it, but there were daytime and nighttime versions of the show (and syndication, too.) As tyke, I used to watch it in the early evenings (I want to say in the 7:00 or 7:30 spot.) Neat that you have come into contact with her daughter (adopted, I believe? But the class and taste probably wore off on her.)

hsc, it would be neat to see that Frank Zane episode you speak of! There are MANY of the black and white ones on youtube and quite a few of the later color ones, but not all eps have been uploaded. Thanks for sharing your memories and trivia tidbits with us!

loulou, thanks for commenting! One thing about Peggy that consistently floors me is in the late-1960s episodes when she walks out to be introduced, she's tall looking and lean! To me, she was eternally pudgy and short in my mind. That voice...! Kitty performed live almost up until her death at 96! She contracted pneumonia (I want to say in Atlanta, GA during a stop there) and that's what did her in. She never, ever stopped going. I don't even know myself all the details of Moss, but I'm sure it was complicated. (Isn't that a status on Growler? LOL Married, single or "It's Complicated!")

Gregory, I am AGOG that you not only knew KCH, but were friendly enough to be in her home. How wondrous! Thank you so much for sharing your recollections about her home and her remarks, etc... It does my heart good to know that she was such a warm, personable lady. :-)

Gingerguy, I spend a lot of mental energy (whether it seems that way or not!) on my punny post titles. Thanks for pointing this one out. I have to admit, "Morgan's Scared, Child" was one of my own faves, too. I like to try to have fun with them, such as "Parrish" the Thought! - for the movie Parrish - or What Ever Happened to Jane, Baby? - for "The Born Losers," which starred an aging Jane Russell. Or then there's "Dinah?" Shore! - for the crazy flick "Dinah East." :-D