Wednesday, February 13, 2019

I'm All A-Buzz(r) Today!

Years ago, back before I had satellite TV and used cable instead, I had a friend who had it and would report back to me the glories of having GSN (Game Show Network) with its parade of wondrous 1970s game shows. Later, when I bought my house and had satellite TV installed, I, too, got to enjoy GSN... for about a hot second until they all but abandoned everything except Match Game and Family Feud and instead began airing other horrendous programming. Solace came when the over-the-air channel Buzzr came into being and I could again see many of the great old shows, albeit on my kitchen TV set, which used a converter/antenna. Any time I was in the kitchen I had it on and sometimes I'd even sit in the breakfast nook and watch if the show was compelling enough. But then, as is the story of my life, the local affiliate who was carrying Buzzr dropped it! So for the last year or so, I have been starved for my beloved classic game shows. However, about a week ago another friend of mine let me know that Buzzr streams live on their website! (Link to Watch) And ever since I've been indulging in these shows again whenever possible and having a great time in the process. Today, I'm going to share some of my random findings about a few of the shows I've been catching up on. As the screencaps for this post are taken "live" instead of through pausing, they may not be of the careful quality I try to achieve in so many of my other posts. Now, let's buzz ahead.

My adoration of Miss Kitty Carlisle of To Tell the Truth is far from secret. I gave her a tribute many years ago and in more recent times did a retro- spective of her many looks over the years on the venerable game show. However, though I feel like I've seen almost every black and white installment of the series, the 1970s color version that I grew up watching on grandpa's knee has been far more elusive, with just a handful of episodes turning up on youtube. So it's been a real thrill to see episodes from 1973 each morning on the Buzzr website and get an eyeful of Miss Kitty in living color. Look at this massive pink necklace above left!
On another occasion, she sported a similar ensemble, but in shades of blue and purple. During the 1960s daytime version, when she was wearing some of THE most vivid and eye-popping colors available, the vast majority of the episodes only exist in black & white copies...! Kills me.

Of course, she also liked to wear basic black on occasion, usually augmented with some flashy jewelry (purists might say too much of it, but I'm not complain- ing!) It might amuse you to know that with her raven helmet of hair with its inherent flip, I thought there was no difference between her and Ann Landers! LOL I have a long history as a child of not being able to distinguish people from one another very well.
Get a load of this necklace! I have long had a fascination with oversized necklaces - as seen in this old post - so it's great fun for me to tune in each morning and see what might be in store on To Tell the Truth.
She also had a sizable bauble on her finger as seen here. Though we were never able to hear anything being said, it was always sort of fun to watch the TTTT panel hobnobbing during the end credits with all the guests and imposters and see who gravitated to whom.

Decidedly less glamorous is Card Sharks, though it can be a lot of fun. This is especially true when there's a wacky, amusing champion such as Eva, pictured here. The feisty old bat stuck around for a pretty long stretch and racked up what was a nice bit of cash for the time. I don't know why, but this is the only montage I made from this show.
Of course, if you want to talk un-glamorous, it's difficult to top the hysterically tacky, but wonderfully entertaining Super- market Sweep! People often wish to cite the 1980s as being a fashion and styling nadir, but I'm here to tell you that the 1990s were no treasure trove of fabulosity. Take these poor feathered sisters in their stretched-out monochromatic t-shirts.

Highlighter color hell, courtesy of Supermarket Sweep, complete with bubble gum pink lipstick and the requisite perms. Believe it or not, Dana and Dane are not fraternal twins, but husband and wife who apparently wanted to wed a version of themselves from the opposite gender.

Sweep was hosted by the genial Dave Ruprecht from 1990-1995 and 2000-2003. He is renowned for an endless series of eye-scorching, vomitously ugly sweaters worn for each program. These aren't even the worst ones, just the only ones that have been shown since I've been able to tune in.
One thing I love about this show is that there are often male contestants and sometimes they are rather handsome. Here we have a rare combination for a show about grocery pricing and shopping, a grandfather/grandson team, with grandson Jeff giving us his best Luke Perry.

Sometimes I sort of fall for a contestant and get obsessed for about 30 minutes. Most of my real life relationships last about that long, too, so it's not an unusual scenario! LOL

Because the men are often physically strong, they tend to do well in the vigorous "big sweep" which entails racing around the super- market in a limited about of time, trying to fill one's cart with the most expensive items available. For this part of the show, all the contestants are placed into the most humiliating costume fathomable outside of a thong... a sweatshirt with built-in polo collar in either robin egg blue, lemon yellow or hot pink! Gramps sort of reminded me of comic actor Phil Harris, if you happen to recall who he was.
I always like it when handsome hubbies are dragged along by their wives. Even better when they are firemen (like Howard) or policemen (such as Bryan.)

While most of the contestants are female, often friends, co-workers or relatives, there are sometimes male teams, like this duo who met in a college dorm and perhaps bonded over the toaster strudel or Wheaties before deciding to hop onto the Sweep. Unlikely looking as friends, Matt was sort of the brains while Dave provided the brawn. Even these poor souls were, for the second half of the show, transformed into day-glo drones. (See below.) I always wonder how many of these sweatshirts there were, what sizes they kept on hand and how often they were laundered... One thing that also always makes me chuckle is how unceremoniously the losing teams are sent packing out the back of the aisles with hardly a goodbye! They head off as if on a conveyor belt to hell...

One show I always loved, but have seen so, so many times on either GSN or Buzzr is Match Game. I had to laugh, though, when on one episode last week, Underworld friend Lee Meriwether showed up with unusually lengthy hair.

She went on to explain that her hairstylist on Barnaby Jones had given her a bunch of wigs for Christmas (!) and she'd been eager to try one of them out. She picked the right show in which to do so. I hope there wasn't a label sewn into this one that read "Rula Lenska."
Then there is the venerable Tattletales. Plenty of laughs to be found with this one as couples are quizzed about various things and have to guess what their spouse (or, later, significant other or good friend) will say. Here we find Mary Ann Mobley and Gary Collins in the hot seat(s.)

Mobley was the recipient of a tribute here some years ago. She and Collins had quite an ooey-gooey thing going on with one another that I recall my mother hating, but, hey, they were wed for forty-five years until his death, so something was working right!
Collins was gifted with one of the THICKEST heads of hair imaginable. He kept it (albeit not this long) until the end, too.
On the show with them this particular week were Martin Milner and his wife (who also had a long union, lasting fifty-eight years until his death) and comedians Mitzi McCall and Charlie Brill.

Mr. & Mrs. Brill positively shredded one another on the show, which might lead one to think that they (like many you see on Tattletales) eventually split up. However, you'll be glad to know that they are still together today in their eighties and have enjoyed a fifty-nine year marriage to one another!

One show I never in my life watched before last week is Classic Concen- tration. I don't know exactly why it evaded my notice for so many years. Maybe it was my lack of interest in the eight cars that always graced it's gargantuan set. Maybe by 1987-1991 I just had other things to do during the day.
At the start of each episode, host Alex Trebek would come out amid the cars and kick off the show. Then he'd join a male and a female contestant who would go head-to-head trying to reveal prize matches on a numbered board that would then display a rebus puzzle such as the one below.
The answer to this rebus, by the way, is "Pat Boone."

Then the winner would try a personalized matching game with the names of the cars underneath fifteen numbers in an allotted time and if they matched them all, they got to receive the final one. At this time, Alex was at or near his peak of attractiveness, having shorn off some of the Avery Schreiber-ish hair of his youth and shaped up a bit. He was far more relaxed than on his more famous show Jeopardy.
He was noted by some viewers as being a little flirty and even handsy with the female contestants, though if that was the case I doubt any of them minded. In any case, he was also very handsy with the male contestants! It was a genial show. On this occasion, he took a moment to reveal how one seemingly everyday contestant had a "business in the front, party in the back" mullet going on!

Speaking of hands on, the initial spokes- model for Classic Concen- tration was tall, blonde and had striking big eyes. Her name was Diana Taylor and she liked to wear exotic hairpieces and often snuggled into Alex when the opportunity arose.
Only a couple of months into the run, she was suddenly replaced by the far more relatable Marjorie Goodson, who was put through the paces of demonstrating rowing machines, pianos and Lord knows what else. For a time, she was joined by her pet dog Pokey (!), which was more than unique for a game show. Who will ever know the unpardonable hell Pokey went through in the endless parade of kitschy prize presentations of which he was a part. LOL By the way, Marjorie Goodson was the daughter of the show's co-creator Mark Goodson (with Bill Toddman.) She was sort of a game show Tori Spelling in that sense!

Another show that I never, ever watched back in the day, but soon became a lifelong favorite when I finally got to see in on GSN, is Sale of the Century, the only show of this era to have male models who often appeared in scanty clothing and swimwear (at least in the early years.) Here we find handsome Gregorio sporting a low-cut tank top for a motorcycle bargain.

But here we have the divine David "sunning" himself in a vacation bargain. Had I known a show like this existed back when it was on, I probably wouldn't have graduated high school for all the calling in sick!
Come on... what's not to love?!

Lastly, another game show that I've seen in its early, black & white days many, many times, but whose late-1960s/ early-'70s episodes have been more elusive, What's My Line? This show featured another favorite great lady of mine, the utterly charming Arlene Francis. 

This version had a segment in which four audience members were brought up and put in line with their occupations printed on signs nearby. The panel had to take turns assigning the professions to the people, which gives us a great look at the way everyday folks dressed back in the day! One thing I do dislike about the episodes being shown now on Buzzr is that they have been edited; shorn of the panelist introductions and just cutting to the game without anyone telling us who the celebrities are if we don't happen to know (Aliza Kashi?!)

The fabled "Mystery Guest" segment is always fun, though the ones I've seen recently are a tad bit lackluster (Skitch Henderson, Joey Adams.) One of them was a treat, though, because the guest was Miss Helen Hayes, who had recently penned a nonfiction book with her pal Anita Loos. It was called Twice Over Lightly: New York Then and Now.

The hysteria is that the way Loos was seated before an icon of writing quills with her patented skin-tight hairdo, she sometimes looks as if she's sporting some large bunny ears!
"What's Up, Doc?"
Lastly, one thing that quite surprised me about this 1972 daytime game show was the mystery guest who was revealed to be the creator of a "girlie" calendar for women, featuring semi-nude male models! These were friends and acquaintances of the woman, so they weren't exactly Honcho material, but it surprised me that they showed several close-ups of the pages on air. (Playgirl magazine was still one year away, though Burt Reynolds had done his infamous Cosmo centerfold prior to this.) And with that, we buzz off until next time!
The End!


normadesmond said...

What annoys is that Buzzr reruns the SAME few shows endlessly! Feh!

D ODay said...

My Aunt Pat had a bit of a singing career in the 50's, and I had also been told she appeared on early TV, but all anyone could remember was that it involved Jan Murray.
Well, it is sometime in the 80's, about 3 am, I can't sleep, so I turn on the TV - just in time to catch a show called "A Dollar a Second" with your host, Jan Murray, and his lovely assistant, my Aunt Pat!

You can watch it on YouTube, and I heartily recommend doing so. It is actually a fun game, but the best part (besides Aunt Pat) are the Manischewitz commercials (you can really taste the grapes).

Neil Armstrong's parents appeared on "I've Got a Secret", the secret, of course, being they were parents of one of the first astronauts. One of the panelists asks how they'd feel if their son was the first man on the moon!
Another early IGAS features a man who had been in Ford's Theater when Lincoln was shot.

I'd say my favorite game show was "$10,000 Pyramid". You had to be both quick and clever.

Gingerguy said...

I have to say I have become more acquainted with the vintage game show world here than I was back when they were on, but I would tune in now for hair and clothing for sure. Supermarket Sweep does escape me though, isn't it bad enough to see the real thing?
The same thing that happened to you with BZZR happened to me with a local PBS station that showed Lawrence Welk on Saturdays. I foolishly only recorded about 7 episodes (Lennons of course) before the show disappeared.
Kitty looks gorgeous in '73, love the off the shoulder black number. The Ann Landers photo with her column looked VERY similar to Kitty. They used that shot of Ann for about 100 years.
Lee Meriwether got wigs for Christmas! now that is a good friend,lol Rula Lenska.
This was super fun Poseidon

Poseidon3 said...

norma, hang in there chicky! On Sunday, Buzzr is unearthing the long-lost "Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour!" It's probably rancid, but, hey... Alison Arngrim and Barbi Benton?!?!? I have to check it out.

D ODay, that's very neat about your Aunt Pat. I will definitely give it a look when I find a moment. I have seen quite a few "I've Got a Secret" but for some reason I could never get into it like the others. It's especially strange because I actually LOVED a little-known remake of that show that featured Amy Yasbeck and Teri Garr, of all people! (And possibly JM J Bullock? Can't recall.)

Gingerguy! LOLOL Um... It may be different in NYC, but you would be HARD PRESSED in Cincinnati to see anyone at a grocery as clean, neat and polite as the contestants on "Sweep!" It's indeed the TACKIEST show, but... I can tell you that if you watch three or four eps, you will become a fan. It's infectiously silly, very genial and also nostalgic. I believe they're in the process of bringing it back. Thanks!!

Skippy Devereaux said...

Rula Lenska?? Wow!! I did not know that anyone else would remember her.
She is one of the names on my imaginary Oscar acceptance speech. Lol

Knuckles Girlyskirt said...

I've been a fan of game shows since I learnt how to turn on the TV.

Two of them that I particularly loved were "Three on a Match" and "The New Treasure Hunt"...You don't see them being rerun anywhere these days. Fortunately, there are a couple of clips on YouTube.

Like a lot of people, "Pyramid" and "Match Game" were big favourites, too. However, the modern reboots of these shows are annoying to watch (in my opinion, anyway.) Give me a 70s repeat any day!

Also, fans of Rula Lenska should know that, for the past few years, she's been playing a recurring supporting character on the British soap opera "Coronation Street" (which we are fortune enough to see daily here in Canada.) FYI she plays a hairdresser.

As for Jan Murray (mentioned in the comments), I'm convinced I had a sighting of him when I was a child, in a cemetery of all places. Sadly, I'll never know for sure if it was truly him or not!

Scooter said...

Rula Lenska HA!

Poseidon3 said...

Skippy, you know many of us were cooked in the same batch - ha ha! - so of course Ms. Lenska is ingrained in our DNA!

Knuckles, I love to check out those elusive, short-lived, vaguely-remembered game shows like the ones you mention. I just love the whole genre and especially 1960s-1980s ones. I confess to enjoying some of the "Deal or Deal" eps and even "The Weakest Link" (at first, before it turned too gimmicky), but for the most part I cannot take the new generation of shows. Very neat update about Rula! Thanks!

Scooter... yes! Ha ha!

hsc said...

This was a really fun post! I particularly loved those framegrabs of Anita Loos with the "bunny ears," and I always enjoy seeing Kitty Carlisle in your blog. And Rula Lenska! The hair care answer to Princess Luciana Pignatelli's Camay ("for *your* be-yoo-tee-full complexion") soap commercials!

I'm kind of surprised at your saying that "Sale of the Century" was "the *only show ever* to have male models who often appeared in scanty clothing and swimwear."

"The Price is Right" has been doing this again for some time now, with the first two male models being the result of a "model search" decided by viewer vote. Rob Wilson was on the show starting in 2012, and left to go to "Days of Our Lives" in 2014. James O'Halloran replaced him after winning another model search, and has been on the show since.

"Price" does pretty much the same thing "Sale" did, with James in a swimsuit to show off boats, hot tubs, trips to beach resorts, and the like. He doesn't get displayed quite as often as when he first started, but he's nice to look at even fully dressed. They did a special episode with all the models as "super heroes", and James was "Captain Abs", shirtless in a caped sort-of-gladiator getup. Recently, he was demonstrating a kayak in a swimsuit, and at the end of the prize description the announcer added, "Shirtless Jimmy not included" in that "disclaimer" undertone, and totally cracked him up.

They recently added a second male model, a former football player, but I haven't seen as much of him and can't remember his name. The guys don't appear on the same shows, as far as I can tell (I don't catch it all the time), so it's never gotten as wild as "Sale" seems to have been, but they're definitely worth your attention if you're home or can catch it on DVR.

Ben said...

I found this entry on game shows so much fun. I love game shows especially those of a bygone era. Match Game, The Newlywed Game and The Price Is Right being favorites. I even attended and tried out for a few game shows back in the 80s.

Poseidon3 said...

Thanks, hsc. I will have to look up the Camay princess as, for some reason, I'm not remembering her! Maybe I will when I see her. I went in and changed the wording on the "Sale of the Century" segment. I don't know why I chose to say "ever" when I didn't even really mean that since I avoid most games shows of the modern era. TPIR has been dead to me since about a month after Bob Barker left. I cannot bear even a few moments of Drew Carey as emcee! So I definitely missed the male additions to the crew there. Sorry for the oversight. :-)

Ben, I'm glad you liked this and took a moment to comment! I always wanted to be on a game so SO badly. I had one friend who was in the last round for "Deal or No Deal" and I was to be one of her cohorts on stage if she was picked, but no... and another pal was down to the last round of the new "Match Game" but that fizzled out. The closest I ever got myself was taking the "Jeopardy" online quiz which, with a new and unfamiliar laptop, not the greatest result and I went to a "Wheel of Fortune" cattle call and was so dismayed that people were picked from cards in a large spinning barrel instead of based on anything else. :-( Take care!

hsc said...

You probably wouldn't remember her (few do), but by all means, Google Princess Luciana Pignatelli-- she's *your* kind of gal!

Huge '60s hair, big jewelry, international jet-setter, fashion arbiter, wrote "The Beautiful People's Beauty Book" and its sequel "The Beautiful People's Diet Book" (both "as told to Jeanne Molli"). If you can track down those books (never actually saw them in my neck of the woods, but I remember seeing the ads for them), you've probably got another blog entry!

Poseidon3 said...

Thank you, hsc. I think she was a little bit before my time, but she is definitely my kind of gal! Love the pictures of her and her incredible hair. I was trying to find her commercials on YouTube, and none of them are there, but her name comes up in all the comments for the rest. People are asking, "Where are Princess Luciana's commercials?!" So she does have a following!

BrianB said...

It's like you were recalling my life with this post, so wonderful!

OK, I go back a long way so I remember The Price Is Right with Bill Cullen in the late 50"s. In glorious Black & White!

The 70's To Tell The Truth, with Kitty, I used to watch when I got home from classes at Art School. I had the hots for Host Wally Bruner who was as milk toast as they came but I was convinced he had a "big one". Kitty was a true fashion swan and like you I ALWAYS watched the credits to see what panelists talked to which contestants during closing credits. Did they have insider info? LOL I always had my eye out for Tom Poston to see who he was talking to!

LOVED Supermarket Sweep when I lived in Dayton! Just like you I looked for the cute guys! Because I wasn't getting any back in those days Dave Ruprecht looked awfully good even in those awkward sweaters!

Mitzi Mc Call and Charlie Brill are still alive! YAY you guys!!!

My memories of Concentration are of the original with Hugh Downs. I had a crush on him too but I was only 6 or 7. Yes, I knew even that young.

Alex Trebeck! He had some show where Ruta Lee threw huge dice down a table for the contestants. It was way before Jeopardy and he was hot as a stick and Ruta knew it!


David Kenilworth said...

For some real nostalgia, check out the You Tube videos from 1987:

These show Lucille Ball in her later years, competing with Betty White (cf. the Password/Allen Ludden connection) and Golden Girls co-star Estelle Getty.

Poseidon3 said...

Brian, thanks for sharing those vintage treasured memories. Perhaps you saw "Match Game" when it was in its initial form "The Match Game" with only two celebrity guests per show? (But still with Gene Rayburn hosting.) The Alex and Ruta show was "High Rollers." I never saw it, but it is very fondly remembered by game show fans. Ruta definitely amassed a following from it that all but overshadowed her acting career. :-)

David, I've seen quite a few of those Lucy "Password" eps. She was such an unusual person to watch in those years. Very dry and distracted a lot of the time and forever futzing around with imaginary issues with her clothing. Somehow nervous, I guess, without a script, yet dedicated to what she was doing. I think she, much like Bea Arthur, had a persona attached to her that really wasn't all that much like her true self & standard demeanor. Fascinating.

Ken Anderson said...

My partner and I are very much into old game shows, and when we're in the mood to weather the endless commercials for catheters and old-age equipment (hearing aids, glare sunglasses) marketed as "Tactical gear" complete with eagles, flags, and camouflage, BUZZR is our spot. A favorite is Supermarket Sweep, primarily for the fried hair and garish clothing. There's an interview with the host online somewhere in which he reveals that the losers got to keep their sweatshirts and white collar dickies (perversely, the winners were not). Thanks for such a fun, image-filled post!

Poseidon3 said...

Ken, HILARIOUS! "fried hair and garish clothing" - So true... and stone washing, bedazzling, appliques, scrunchies and on and on! A friend of mine recently informed me of the BIZARRE production decision to give the losers their sweatshirts, but not the winners. Who ended up with hellaciously sweat-stained "winner" shirts and the (surely) makeup-stained dickies during the next game?!? Ick. And the commercials, only some of which you noted, are indeed excruciating and one of the worst parts about watching!!! I try to tune them out of mute them much of the time. Thanks!!

F. Nomen said...

If your friend’s website ever loses Buzzr it’s available through the PlutoTV app. It’s terribly glitchy but it’s currently my only source.