I've Got a Secret

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I've Got A Secret
Genre Game show
Created by Allan Sherman
Presented by Garry Moore (1952-1964)
Steve Allen (1964-1973)
Bill Cullen (1976)
Stephanie Miller (2000-2003)
Bil Dwyer (2006)
Composer(s) Leroy Anderson
Norman Paris
Steve Allen
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes CBS, 1976: 4
GSN, 2006: 40
Production
Producer(s) Mark Goodson
Bill Todman
Allan Sherman
Chester Feldman
Running time 30 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel CBS (1952-1967, 1976)
Syndicated (1972-1973)
Oxygen (2000-2003)
GSN (2006)
Audio format Mono
Original run June 19, 1952 – June 9, 2006
Chronology
Related shows What's My Line?
Other websites
Official website

I've Got a Secret was a weekly game show produced by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman for CBS television. It was a panel game show, which means that it had, in addition to a host and guests, a group of people who together acted as judges. The show was created by comedy writers Allan Sherman and Howard Merrill. It was related to Goodson-Todman's other panel show, What's My Line?. The first episode of the show aired on June 19, 1952[1] and ran until April 3, 1967. The first version of the show was in black and white. It switched to color in 1966.

The show was canceled in 1967 and then brought back for the 1972-1973 season in once-a-week syndication and again from June 15 to July 6, 1976, for a summer run. Another production ran on the Oxygen cable channel in a daily version, airing from 2000 through 2003. GSN ran a revival from April 17 to June 9, 2006 with an all-gay panel. In October 2006, GSN decided not to renew the show for a second season, although reruns remained on its schedule for some time afterward.

Hosts and panelists[change | edit source]

The show was first hosted by radio and television personality Garry Moore. After several months of an panel that kept changing, the show settled down to include game show host Bill Cullen, comedian Henry Morgan, TV hostess Faye Emerson, and actress Jayne Meadows. In 1958, Emerson left the show to star in a play and was replaced by actress Betsy Palmer. The following year, Meadows moved to the West Coast to live with her husband Steve Allen and was replaced by former Miss America Bess Myerson. Sometimes, guest hosts substituted for Moore, including panelists Morgan and Palmer. Also, other comedians and celebrities guested for the panel when they were away.

Garry Moore left the show after the 1963-64 season, after his comedy program The Garry Moore Show was canceled, and he decided to retire from television to travel around the world with his wife.[2] Moore was replaced by Steve Allen on September 21, 1964. Allen also hosted the show during the 1972-1973 revival. Former panelist Bill Cullen hosted the show for its short 1976 CBS summer run. The panelists on this revival were Richard Dawson, Henry Morgan, New York-based entertainment critic Pat Collins, and Elaine Joyce.

The Oxygen channel version of the show was hosted by Stephanie Miller until August 2001. Panelists in the Oxygen version included Jim J. Bullock, Jason Kravits, Amy Yasbeck, and Teri Garr. The GSN version was hosted by Bil Dwyer; the panelists were Billy Bean, Frank DeCaro, Jermaine Taylor, and Suzanne Westenhoefer.

Original series[change | edit source]

Game play[change | edit source]

Each episode usually had two contestants. After that, a celebrity guest played. Once in a while, if there was extra time, the celebrity was followed by a third regular guest.

Standard rounds[change | edit source]

Each round was a guessing game. The panel tried to figure out the contestants' "secrets". The idea of a "secret" on the show was very broad. Secrets were always intended to be unusual, amazing, embarrassing or humorous. They often were about what happened to a person, owning something, or a job, hobby, success or skill.

One or more contestants would walk on. The host would tell the name the contestant or ask their name and where they were from. He would then ask them to "whisper your secret to me, and we'll show it to the folks at home." The contestant would then whisper their secret to the host, while the audience and television viewers were shown the secret by writing printed on the television screen. Then the host would give the panel a clue. For example, "the secret concerns something that happened to [Contestant's Name]." The host would then choose a panelist to begin asking questions.

When the show first started, each panelist had 15 seconds of questioning of a guest. Then this would repeat once. Each 15 seconds that passed without the secret being correctly guessed won the contestant $10. However, a guest could not win more than $80. In mid-1954, they changed to only one question period for each panelist. They changed the money to $20 so that the top prize would stay at $80. Also, the time limit for questions was no longer exact. Instead, a buzzer went off to end the questioning, and production staff decided when to use the buzzer. This was partly because the program was shown live (not taped), and this sometimes required the show to be longer or shorter to keep the show running on time. In later times, the panelists were sometimes buzzed when they were too close to the secret, or at a point that would get a laugh.

Following the guest's secret being discovered, the host sometimes asked the contestant more about their secret, or, if it made sense, the contestant demonstrated their secret. These demonstrations sometimes included the host, and sometimes one or more of the panelists.

A number of famous people appeared with secrets, including Col. Harland Sanders who founded Kentucky Fried Chicken ("I started my restaurant with my first Social Security check"), Philo T. Farnsworth ("I invented electronic television"), Pete Best ("I used to be one of THE BEATLES"), and an elderly man, Samuel Seymour, who was the last surviving eyewitness to Abraham Lincoln's assassination (he was 5 years old at the time).

Guest rounds[change | edit source]

On each usual episode, a celebrity guest came on the show with a secret. The celebrity usually started the episode by coming out from the behind the curtain and saying "my name is [Name] and I've Got a Secret!". Sometimes, though, the celebrity would say "and this is I've Got a Secret!". In the beginning, the celebrities would have a secret. The secrets would sometimes be personal secrets, similar to the other contestants. Other times the secret would be about something they were there to do. The guest part of the show often was really a was to show some new technology or product.

Later in the show, a common thing was for the celebrity to challenge the panel in some other game. This later became the main use of the celebrity part of the show, and they no longer pretended to have a secret. Instead, the celebrity would just come out with a challenge for the panel. Several of these challenges later were the main idea used for other game shows. For example, a game in which Woody Allen challenged the panel to guess words by what children had said they meant,[3] which became the basis for Child's Play. Or two challenges with Peter Falk and Soupy Sales in which the panel had to guess who a celebrity was after being show a photographs of them as a baby and others as the aged,[4] which later was used for the show, Face the Music.

History and style[change | edit source]

I've Got a Secret was more informal than its sister show What's My Line?. The panel and host used each other's first names. As noted, the time limit on questioning was removed early in the show', and time limits were set more for entertainment. The men on the panel always wore normal suits or even sport jackets, though both Morgan and Moore sometimes chose bow ties over straight ties. Until the later years of the series, both Moore, and members of the panel smoked cigarettes on the air. The panel was introduced at the start of each episode by the host, usually with a pun on their names.

Only yes-or-no questions were supposed to be asked by the panel, but this was often relaxed. Unlike on What's My Line?, the host offered hints and suggestions when the panel was quite lost, or when an answer might make them lost. Like on What's My Line?, the panelists were not allowed to try to figure out secrets together, but later in the series, no one bothered the panelists when they whispered ideas to each other.

The series began in black-and-white, and only in 1966 switched to color. When the show is seen in reruns, though even episodes which were in color are in black and white, as they did not record the color. Much of the series had a commercial sponsor. The opening of the show would have an advertisement for that company. Signs on the set also promoted the products, and on commercial breaks the product would be advertised. Some sponsors provided samples of their products, which were given to each contestant. Late in the series, sponsorship was stopped.

An Australian version of the show was produced and aired in Brisbane on QTQ Channel 9 from 1967 until 1973. It was hosted by Newsreader Don Secombe. Similar to the American version, it had regular celebrity panelists including Ron Cadee, Babette Stevens and Joy Chambers.

Changes in the revivals[change | edit source]

1970s revivals[change | edit source]

The format of the 1970s revivals were very similar to the original series. However celebrity secrets were back, as opposed to challenges.

Oxygen revival[change | edit source]

On the Oxygen revival, the contestant earned $200, and if no one on the panel guessed, they earned a $1,000 prize. Stephanie Miller hosted this version. The show's set was made to look like a fancy city apartment.

GSN revival[change | edit source]

On GSN's revival, each panelist had 40 seconds for questioning, with one conference allowed. Stumping the entire panel won the contestant $1,000 and "dinner for 2 in Beverly Hills." The fine print at the end of the show disclosed that contestants were also paid an appearance fee. Losing contestants also received some unspecified parting gifts. Several minor show business professionals demonstrated their performances on the show, including piano juggler Dan Menendez. Another element in the revival was that all the panelists were openly gay. This was played upon as host, Bill Dwyer, was introduced as "the straight man to the panel".

Episode status[change | edit source]

As with What's My Line?, early episodes from the original series' first season in 1952 appear to have been lost. From late 1952 until the 1967 cancellation, most episodes appear to exist as a digital transfer of the original black-and-white kinescope movies.[5]

GSN concluded its most recent airing of I've Got A Secret's run on July 13, 2008 at 3:30 AM (ET), paired with What's My Line? at 3:00. However, they began their run in mid-2007 with episodes from late 1961 or early 1962. A good portion of the series is unlikely to be aired, due to the show's longtime sponsorship by Winston cigarettes, which remains an existing brand. It is unclear whether this is mandated legally, or simply a choice by GSN. In addition, the network skipped several episodes through its run which are known to have been skipped in previous runs of the show;[5] this may mean that other episodes are lost or in bad enough condition for GSN not to air them.

All subsequent revivals of Secret exist in their entirety. GSN has occasionally aired single episodes from the 1972-1973 season, the latest being an episode featuring Bob Barker as the celebrity guest, to commemorate his retirement from The Price Is Right in mid-2007. GSN also occasionally adds reruns of its 2006 revival to the regular schedule.

Theme music[change | edit source]

The first theme music used on the show from 1952-1961 was "Plink, Plank, Plunk!" by Leroy Anderson (this theme can be heard on the album "Classic TV Game Show Themes". However, the theme on the CD was credited to Norman Paris).

The second theme, used from 1961-1962, was an upbeat arrangement of the Theme to "A Summer Place" by Max Steiner.

The third theme was used from 1962-1967. It was an upbeat, spritely march featuring piccolo and xylophone, composed by the show's musical director Norman Paris and played by a live studio combo. It quoted a familiar melody widely associated with schoolyard taunts, to which the words "I've got a secret!" might be sung by children in a teasing manner.

In addition to being used as a tag for his entrance on CBS episodes he hosted, Steve Allen's composition "This Could Be the Start of Something" was used as the opening theme in 1972. The closing theme to the 1972 version was written by Edd Kalehoff. The theme from the 1976 version with Bill Cullen was used one year later on the ABC game show Second Chance. A remix of that theme was also used in the Australian version of Family Feud.

Tim Mosher and Stoker are credited with the 2000 theme, while Alan Ett and Scott Liggett contributed an up jazz theme for Bil Dwyer's 2006 version of the show for GSN.

References[change | edit source]

  1. Weiner, Ed; Editors of TV Guide (1992). The TV Guide TV Book: 40 Years of the All-Time Greatest Television Facts, Fads, Hits, and History. New York: Harper Collins. pp. 216. ISBN 0-06-096914-8.
  2. Moore, Garry. I've Got A Secret, September 5, 1966.
  3. I've Got A Secret, February 27, 1967. Date sourced from Kinescopes.com
  4. I've Got A Secret, October 11, 1965 and January 30, 1967. Dates sourced from Kinescopes.com
  5. 5.0 5.1 Listing of known IGAS Kinescopes

Other websites[change | edit source]