To Tell the Truth (1956–2016)
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While the idea had roots in 'People Are Funny's Detecto segment, the Goodson-Todman crew developed a format in which not only the studio participants and the viewers could play along, but which still offers insights into human nature -- what better question to make people really think than 'which of these folks is lying?'
Stewart's ideas, Goodson's packaging, and the great supervision of executive producer Gil Fates meshed into a classic which lasts to this day, with the bright, polished John O'Hurley manning the moderator position first held by Bud Collyer (Mike Wallace did the pilot).
'Truth' is a timeless show that deserves to be one of two ('Price' is the other) to span six decades of national television.
All right folks - all three of these people claim to be Bart Starr, Quarterback of the Geen Bay Packers and this is his sworn affidavit. "I Bart Starr and with the 1st Super Bowl Championship Green Bay Packers. It was not always this way. When this program first started we only won 2 games that season with many of the same players including myself. The big change came when Mr. Lombardi came from the NY Giants to coach at Green Bay. At the same time Tom Landry, another Giants coach appeared on this program as an impostor. Now Mr Landry is the coach we seem to have to play every year with Dallas in order to win championships. How times change."
Bud- now the 4 panelists will question our three Bart Starrs to try and determine who is the real quarterback of the Packers. Each wrong vote will award the challengers $250 with a possible $1000 dollars if all the votes are wrong.
This is one of the great shows and Bud would close every show with the same you - "Now you all remember to Tell the Truth." Considering the whoppers being told today, times have changed. I loved this show as a kid. Made you think and see if you could do better than the panel.
I watched the show back in the day and loved it. I really like the re-runs today of the old programs; they're irresistible in terms of audience participation. Collyer is one of the two or three greatest game show hosts ever IMO - good-natured, disciplined, absolutely real. I believe he was quite a spiritual man and wrote a book or two about his faith. The go-to panel for me was (from left) Tom Poston, Peggy Cass, Orson Bean (who veered in his lifetime from being a disciple of Wilhelm Reich to being a fundamentalist Christian), and Kitty Carlisle; this panel got locked into place at some point in about '65 after a fair amount of experimentation and quite a few not-so-good panelists. (Buzzr rarely plays a show from 1964-65-66 - is it because they have trouble getting clearances from companies who sponsored the show then but don't want their old-fashioned ads shown today?) Don Ameche was a frequent panelist circa 1962; he often became Mr. Inquisitor, with a harsh tone to his questioning - Don, baby, it's a game show! Polly Bergen made a bit too much of her ditziness (ironically, she later became a strong feminist). Johnny Carson was still mastering the art of being magnetic on camera; he literally never looks at the camera on TTTT and comes across as your basic leering smart-ass (which of course he was; he later learned to ameliorate the smart-ass thing with greater approachability). Tom Poston was superb much of the time but occasionally seemed Tommy Smothers-like in his inability to speak a coherent sentence; long, long seconds of air time would pass as Poston tried to think of something to say. The most drop-dead gorgeous panelist in the history of the show was Dina Merrill who virtually glowed. (And was fabulously rich.)
The quality of the guests - well, it varies, but I'd say seven out of ten are interesting. Lots of guests from the Kennedy Administration, like for example a kid who joined the Peace Corps - everyone on the show just has huge admiration for this guy and for the idea of the corps. This is fascinating, historically - hard to remember, now, just how treasured the Peace Corps concept was circa 1961-63. Ancel Keys made an appearance - in the early '60s he was a supremely confident (in fact arrogant) researcher on nutrition, a hugely influential guy, but his reputation has taken major hits since then around the topic of fat. Science marches on.
One thing I'm confused about is the truth-telling of guests. In very early shows, Bud tells us that only the real person needs to tell the truth. Later on, this caveat is dropped completely.
As for the usual panelists, Kitty Carlisle is cut from the same cloth as Bud, but she does bring sophistication to the show. Tom Poston is likable, but not very funny. Peggy Cass, on the other hand, is a hoot. Orson Bean is a favorite of mine--clever, quick-witted and somewhat irreverent.
Overall, the show entertains, but it falls far short of some other game shows of its era. For example, "What's My Line?" always features an intelligent, funny panel and is hosted by John Daley, who has a corny but cute sense of humor combined with a cosmopolitan body of knowledge and real style.
PERHAPS WE COULD rack it up to "dumb luck" on the part of the producers, Mark Goodson & Bill Todman. However the team had successfully given us WHAT'S MY LINE?, I'VE GOT A SECRET, PASSWORD, THE MATCG GAME and many others; so there must have been some careful crafting involved here.
STILL, WE MAINTAIN our position that this did stand out from the many other also-rans.
PERHAPS IT HAS something to do with the cast. In the MC's chair, we had the former Radio voice of Clark Kent & SUPERMAN, Mr. Bud Collyer. The roll call of panelists is both long and distinguished; but we best remember: Kitty Carlisle, Tom Poston, Orson Bean*, Peggy Cass, Chester Morris, Dina Merrill, Betsy Palmer and many others.
MORE THAN ANY other family oriented panel show, TO TELL THE TRUTH, invited and even demanded participation from the home viewer. As the panelists marked their cards as to which of the three contestants was the real person that he said he was, we were kept busy weighing their testimony and testing our own acumen as detectives.
WHY THAT'S IT, Schultz! That's the secret of the show's success!