I'VE GOT A SECRET

CBS June 19, 1952-April 3, 1967 (Bill became a regular panelist July 3, 1952)

Bill served as regular panelist and occasional guest host for almost fifteen years on this immensely popular game from Goodson-Todman.

A contestant came onstage and whispered his/her secret to emcee Garry Moore while the audience saw it superimposed on the screen. On at a time, each of the four panelists had about 30 seconds to quiz the contestant asking only yes-no questions. Each panelist whose time elasped without figuring out the secret paid $20, for a top possible prize of $80.A celebrity guest also dropped by with a secret on each show.

Early episodes suggest that this was originally meant to be a straightforward game, but as time passed by, it became less of a game and more of a variety show pretending to be a game show. As the show evolved the time limit for each panelist was not taken seriously (one of the show's funnier moments was when panelist Henry Morgan said, "I think I have it!", only to be buzzed by the judge immediately and lose his turn). Also, more and more often, contestants' secrets involved music, dancing, or some other type of performance (always followed by a demonstration of course). If the secret wasn't performing, it at least entertaining ("I'm wearing a suit made of dollar bills," "Our names are the months of the year", etc.)



Gradually, the celebrity appearances didn't involve secrets but rather parlor games or silly stunts to perform with the panel. (In the above images we see Betsy trying to maintain her balance on a makeshift seesaw; Bill spinning plates; and the entire panel doing a marionette dance performance.)

Bill joined on the third episode as a substitute panelist but was such a superb player that he stayed for 15 years. His glib, silly manner ended up being the ideal counterpoint to fellow panelist Henry Morgan's grumpy demeanor, and his interaction with fellow panelists Faye Emerson, Bess Myerson, Betsy Palmer, and Jayne Meadows was always good for a laugh.

Bill also had an excellent intuitive mind here, and, while no track records were kept over the years, I would wager that he guessed more secrets than any other panelist.

Click the Appropriate Cover for a 1959 TV Guide article about "I've Got a Secret" or for a 1962 article from TV Guide, or for a 1963 TV Guide interview with Henry Morgan.


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