Thursday, January 26, 2023

"Square"-ing Off! - Volume 1

As of late, my treadmill time has been wiled away watching vintage episodes of Hollywood Squares, the venerable game show that had contestants playing tic tac toe with nine celebrities housed within a large game board. Toothy, trendily-dressed host Peter Marshall would ask a question (True or false, multiple choice or otherwise) and the celebrities would give an answer that the contestants would either agree or disagree with in order to win an X or an O. But generally, the celebrity would pop off with a "zinger" - a deliberately wrong answer than had a comic slant to it. There have been collections of zingers on YouTube and in the 1970s there was even a record album of them released for sale! Most of the best ones came courtesy of Paul Lynde. (Well, from the show's writers, but delivered by Lynde.) In an unusual twist, which made the remarks spontaneous - or sometimes cracked up the celeb before they could say it because it finally made sense to them - the zingers were told to the stars before they ever heard the questions! Below are a small collection of zingers that are, perhaps, not as famous as the ones that have made the rounds again and again. These are all from the late-1960s to the mid-1970s. Hopefully, they bring a smile to your face as they did mine.

PETER: "Vertical lift, suspension and truss... are all kinds. Kinds of what?"
PAUL LYNDE: "Shorts..." (underwear)
(real answer: bridges)

PETER: "According to Raquel Welch, can you be flat-chested and sexy?"
ROSE MARIE: "Well, it works for Paul Newman..."
(real answer: Yes)

PETER: "Does Hank Aaron say that anything ever gave him a bigger thrill than breaking Babe Ruth's home run record?"
MILTON BERLE: "Yeah... He broke Lola Falana's record."
(real answer: Yes; hitting his last home run before leaving the Atlanta Braves)

PETER: "In Little Bo Beep, what did the famous sheep leave behind them?"
PAUL LYNDE: "Well, Simple Simon thought they were breadcrumbs...."
(real answer: their tails)

PETER: "What is the major reason that birds fly south for the winter?"
MARTY ALLEN: "It's easier to hit people when they're lying on the beach..."
(real answer: lack of food)

PETER: "Richard Burton always has a long, curved crease pressed into his pants to draw attention away from something... What?"
DEBBIE REYNOLDS: "I'd have to talk to Tom Jones..."
(real answer: his bowed legs)

PETER: "Your husband Edgar has been talking in his sleep. According to Ann Landers, should you be upset if he talks about his secretary?"
JOAN RIVERS: "And how... His secretary is a guy!"
(real answer: no)

PETER: "It's popular nickname is The Playground of Europe. Where is it?"
MALTER MATTHAU: "Zsa Zsa Gabor's living room."
(real answer: Switzerland)

PETER: "In the dairy business, what does a farmer call a cow who won't give milk?"
CHARLIE WEAVER: "Every name in the book!"
(real answer: a dry cow)

PETER: "How many men on a hockey team...?"
PAUL LYNDE: "About half!" (followed by probably the longest sustained laughter ever from the others there.)
(real answer: six)

PETER: "Is Billy Graham considered to be a good dresser?"
PAUL LYNDE: "No, but he's a terrific end table!"
(real answer: yes)

PETER: "If someone is trying to inculcate you, what would they be trying to do?"
EVA GABOR: "You're sure it's the night-time show...? We can say it?"
(real answer: teach you something.)

PETER: "True or false? Studies at the University of Wisconsin show that you will live longer if you love only one man or woman at a time...?
PAUL LYNDE: "But it is all right to alternate...?"
(real answer: true)

PETER: "True or false; your teeth are about the same size and shape as a pig's..."
PAUL LYNDE: "Look who's talking, beaver face!"
(real answer: true)

PETER: "Howard Cosell's mother confides that little Howard began doing something at the age of 9 months that he's still known to do quite a bit of today. What is it"
BOB NEWHART: "Washed his hair in Woolite"
(real answer: talk)

PETER: "According to the San Francisco Examiner, what land animal has the biggest eyes of all?"
RICH LITTLE: "That's Carol Channing."
(real answer: horse)

PETER: "As dinner host, the first person to be served wine is the one on your _____. Your what?"
DOM DeLUISE: "On your lap!"
(real answer: right)

PETER: "Statistically, what's the world's favorite fruit?"
JOHN AMOS: "Are we referring to Hollywood?"
(real answer: banana)

Amos' expressions did more than his answers, actually. I couldn't resist a second one from the same ep.

PETER: "According to a report in Medical Times Magazine, what was listed as the best exercise in terms of health benefits?"
JOHN AMOS: "Which magazine...??"
PETER: "Medical Times:
JOHN AMOS: "Oh..."
(real answer: jogging)

And lastly came this hooty one. I'll be back again in the future with others as we move into the late-70s...

PETER: "According to Playboy, what is the minimum number of sets of underwear a man should have in his wardrobe? 8, 12 or 16?"
MICHAEL LANDON: "I wish Pa [on Bonanza] would let us have underwear just to start out with... Sets? Oh, 'cause I don't even wear 'em one pair at a time."
(real answer: 12)


Dan said...

Marshall’s jacket looks like it was made out of my grandmother’s old bathroom hamper. Was anything like that ever actually fashionable?
My favorite Squares-ism (so far) - “Charlie Weaver, you want to grow strawberries. Are you going to get any the first year?” “No, I’ll be too busy growing strawberries.”

normadesmond said...


Why am I not getting this one??

PETER: "How many men on a hockey team...?"
PAUL LYNDE: "About half!" (followed by probably the longest sustained laughter ever from the others there.)
(real answer: six)

Gingerguy said...

I was so happy to see the last one- as we spend a lot of time talking about Michael Landon's pant area here. I had a crush on John Amos as a kid, how weird to read the Hollywood comment, I would have been crushed in 7th grade. I kind of remember seeing Rich Little doing Carol Channing so might even have watched that one live. These bring me right back to a rec room in NJ circa 1976. Funny enough I went to see a screening of "The Wiz" last night and was really impressed with Nipsy Russell as a dancer. My only association of him was on game shows like this doing awful, awful rhyming quips. He's been rehabilitated in my eyes. Paul Lynde got away with murder!

hsc said...

normadesmond, maybe that "zinger" doesn't play as well in print, without Paul Lynde's trademark delivery?

I'm only guessing here, but maybe-- given the prejudices of the day and the type of material he regularly did on the show-- Lynde was supposed to be saying that only about half the "macho" hockey team were "REAL men" and the rest were "NOT men"-- gay/sissies/queens.

Anyway, I enjoyed this look back at the show! Thanks for another fun entry, Poseidon! You're the best!

Love to all and be safe and well, everyone!

A said...

Norma, I thought the answer implied how many on the team he had slept with.

Brad said...

Love me some classic Hollywood Squares.

I do remember watching it first run. I remember watching with my grandmother she would laugh and laugh, every now and then Id get the real meaning. There is one Paul quip I definitely remember, but Ill leave it alone as you mentioned more pending.

Vintage game shows with play on words, how fun to remember and watch as an adult.

hsc said...

A, you may be right about what Paul Lynde's "About half!" was implying.

The odd phrasing of the question definitely sets up a "zinger" answer-- Peter Marshall notably doesn't ask "What's the number of players on a hockey team?" or even "How many men *are on* a hockey team?"

Of course, Peter Marshall's actual name was a bit of a "zinger" itself-- he was born Ralph Pierre LaCock, and his sister Joan Letitia LaCock became better known as actress Joanne Dru.

But could you imagine if he just Anglicized his middle name and went with "Peter LaCock" instead? (He has a namesake retired baseball player son who actually uses the name "Pete LaCock.")

Poseidon3 said...

Dan, I had to post that (awful, yet amusing) outfit on Peter. There were plenty of "out there" get-ups, though he eventually became more understated yet with still a little flair. Notice I used the word "trendily" rather than "fashionably" when describing his clothes. The late-'60s/early-'70s were really startling with the changes to men's formalwear and it was like people were tripping over one another to outdo the competition! :-) LOVE the zinger you shared.

normadesmond (and A & hsc), I think the beauty of this particular zinger is that it is left so open to interpretation. It's as gentle as one wants it to be while also as lascivious as one wants it to be, so it's got very broad appeal. It's all in the (lack of) wording. Peter could be asking, "How many men on a hockey team [are actually sissies]?" or "How many men on a hockey team [do you find sexy]?" all the way up to "How many men on a hockey team [have you blown in the locker room after the big game]??!" Ha ha! And judging by the various ways it was interpreted here, I think that explanation holds up. :-)

Gingerguy, yes... sometimes I do get fixated on a topic. Ha ha!! You know, Buzzr has been digging up obscure game show pilots and running them under the banner "Lost and Found" but the neon in the sign is broken so it reads, "Lost and F un ." One of them was a 1983 show hosted by Nipsy (that in itself was something of a milestone I should think!) and he was pretty annoying. A little of his poetry has always gone a long way for me. It was called "Star Words." Charles Nelson Reilly and Patty Duke were on it with him. You can find it on YouTube under Buzzer Lost and Found 2023. :-)

Brad, my VERY religious grandparents never missed "Hollywood Squares" and it surprises me now since it was such a suggestive show (they drew the line with "Match Game," though, and wouldn't watch that.) Maybe they didn't always get every remark. I know at my age then I didn't...!

hsc, that's a scream about Peter's birth name. I guess I forgot it 'cause I know I read his auto-bio and it would have been mentioned in there. The big takeaway I got from that book was that there were only two celebs that Peter truly just plain disliked, Dan Rowan and Bert Convy. It took me many years to figure out why he didn't like Bert (as every other human being seemed to!) It was because Peter was all set to host a new show called "3rd Degree!" but Bert - who was a producer - decided to take over without even notice to Peter. That resulted in a lawsuit which only ended when Bert came down with brain cancer and Peter dropped the suit...