Password was definitely a true classic as a well as a pioneer in the game show genre. It had all the elements for success. A simple format, home audience participation (if you didn't look at the word on the screen) and an outstanding host in Allen Ludden. He was the best game show host of all-time since he kept the game moving, treated both the celebrities and contestants very well and showed a lot of class. He was also one of the best dressed emcees and one of the first to wear open shirts.
As a game show pioneer, Password was the first to pair contestants with celebrities and the first to use a bonus round, Without Password, there would have been no Pyramid. Both games were created by Bob Stewart.
The original version would have lasted longer if CBS wouldn't have preempted the show on the same day The Newlywed Game debuted for a Vietnam War news conference. The Chuck Barris show cut into Password's dominance. Also, Fred Silverman, who headed CBS Daytime Programming was not a fan of game shows and he killed off classics such as I've Got a Secret, What's My Line and Password. But fear not, the game was the first to air reruns and that led to the 70s revival on ABC.
As for the 70s version, it was also ground breaking. It was the first network game show to be revived, though Goodson-Todman survived through a network game show drought with syndicated versions of What's My Line, To Tell the Truth and Beat the Clock and it was also the company's first show to be produced in Hollywood.
When Password returned in 1971, the main game and Lightning Round remained the same. The only change was the addition of the Betting Word, where a contestant can double their winnings by guessing another password in 15 seconds. There was also an updated set and new theme music and of course, Allen Ludden as host.
This version was a success for three years before the format became old and tired. Instead of cancelling the show, the producers changed the format and title to Password All Stars. An outstanding game was ruined by more complicated rules and the fact that game show fans like to see real people win money instead of celebrities playing for charities. Even Allen Ludden was uncomfortable with the new format. Eventually, the show went back to using civilian contestants but the game was still too complicated and was cancelled in June 1975.
I'll always remember Allen Ludden closing each show with "The password for today is..."
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