Black & White TV Shows Are A Window Into The Past.

Jim tapes the black and white episodes of "What's My Line" and "I've Got A Secret" on "Game Show Network." They are a fascinating window into the past. I wish some real historian would host these re-runs because there's a wealth of fascinating information that can be gleaned from almost every episode.

For instance, last night Desi Arnaz was the "surprise mystery guest" on "What's My Line?" from Nov. 9, 1952. When John Charles Daley was sending him on his way, he mentioned how popular "I Love Lucy" was and then praised it for its "honesty."

Honesty? Really?

Is that how the show was perceived in 1952? Was it "edgy?" Nowadays, we think of the show as almost baggy pants comedy focusing on Lucy's outrageous stunts. In 1952, the pregnancy thing hasn't happened.

What quality, I wonder, made it "honest?" The fact that they showed them in their bedroom (albeit with separate beds)? It was just something that caught my attention and jarred me for a moment.

Also last night, on "I've Got A Secret" there was a couple. An older woman sitting on one side of host Gary Moore, and a middle aged man sitting on the other. The secret was two part:

1. That she had been his school teacher when he was a kid and, as a punishment, had made him write 50 times "I will not talk in class."

2. And now, years later, she had stood before him, a judge, for speeding, and as her punishment, he sentenced her to write "I will not exceed the speed limit" 100 times.

Cute, right? So Gary asks her, after the secret has been revealed, "How did you feel standing before your former student?"

She looked over at him, slowly lowered her eyes and whispered, "Ashamed."

Ashamed. Ashamed that she, as a teacher had failed her student. It was touching.

After a moment, I looked over and Jim and said, "We live in a different world."

I can't even imagine that answer today. It'd be more like, "Oh, thank god. Maybe I'll get off with a light sentence" or "How can I turn this into a TV reality series."

As the show has progressed through time the last couple of weeks, we also witnessed the disappearance of original panelist, poet and wit Louis Untermeyer from the "What's My Line?" line-up. Looking it up later on, we discovered he had just been blacklisted (Just like Zero Mostel).

And the current "comedian" panelist, Hal Bloch, is about to get the boot for an entirely different reason...
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