Series: The Name's The Same
Goodson-Todman Game Show
that ran from 1951-55 and originally hosted by Robert Q. Lewis, in which a panel of three celebrities tried to guess a person's name — with the knowledge that it's shared with a person (Bill Cullen
), place (Louis Ville), or thing (A. Harem).
Each panelist could ask ten questions before they were declared "stumped", but could pass at any time. The game ended when A) the name was guessed, B) the host called time, or C) the panel ran out of questions. Each stumped panelist wrote a personal check for $25 to the contestant.
Once per show, a celebrity guest would come out to play "I'd Like To Be...", where the questions would be posed to the guest as if s/he was the person they wanted to be (and the guest had to answer accordingly).
The show had a limited premise and a less-than-stable panel (only Joan Alexander stayed through the entire run, and even then she didn't appear on every episode), but the then-young ABC
network needed hits and Name
was one of the few. The show was canned on August 31, 1954 (with Lewis and the panel of Gene Rayburn, Bess Myerson, Roger Price, and Alexander saying goodbye), only to be brought back on October 18 when its replacement bombed — but Lewis wasn't brought back, resulting in a Season 4 which not only had its usual less-than-stable panel but a less-than-stable emcee chair, a less-than-stable format, and a few sour moments:
- Dennis James replaced Lewis as host. Ralston also became the sole sponsor, and the show moved to Mondays at 7:30.
- Rayburn, a regular since July 7, 1953, left after the January 3 show note and was replaced by Hy Gardner.
- An ill-fitting "Celebrity Relatives" round was added on January 10; Myerson left the program following this episode, replaced by Audrey Meadows.
- Gardner left following the February 14 show, replaced by Walter Slezak on March 14.
- Gregory Ratoff made a "Secret Wish" appearance on March 14, and proceeded to go off on an odd ramble that ate up nearly the whole broadcast time.
- James left following the April 4 show, replaced by Bob & Ray; appropriately for the duo, Name began using skits and Take That episodes.
- The "Celebrity Relatives" gimmick was finally ousted following the June 6 show.
- Bob & Ray left on June 20, replaced by Clifton Fadiman on June 28 (with the series moving to Tuesdays at 10:00).
- Slezak left the show due to scheduling conflicts when Fadiman took over, replaced by Mike Wallace on July 5.
- On September 16, the series moved to Fridays at 10:00.
- Following that move, the finale aired three weeks later (October 7); the final panel consisted of Wallace, Meadows, Price, and Alexander.
- Bonus Round: I'd Like To Be/Celebrity Wish, and to a lesser extent Celebrity Relatives.
- The Announcer
- Game Show Host: Robert Q. Lewis hosted for the first three years, followed by Dennis James. Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding took over for the next two months, then Clifton Fadiman for the remaining three.
- Studio Audience
- Show The Folks At Home: The contestant's name, along with a picture depicting the object or person, would be shown to the audience.
This show provides examples of:
- Animated Credits Opening: Episodes sponsored by Chicken of the Sea featured a short animation of the brand's mermaid mascot "pinging" the different types of products (tuna; strained tuna and dietetic tuna; oyster stew and oysters; and frozen tuna pie) as the announcer said them. This was clipped out of GSN airings since 2004 in the network's quest for more current commercial space.
- During Ralston's sponsorship, the show used an animated opening set to the song "Meet Me in St. Louis" (where Ralston's headquarters was located).
- A Day in the Limelight: Among the show's guest hosts were Conrad Nagel (April 7, 1953), Brian Aherne (November 3-10, 1953), and Clifton Fadiman (June 8-22, 1954).
- Bob & Ray: Shared hosting duties for about two months in 1955. Appropriately, the show became more comedic in a style akin to the duo's earlier work, with occasional skits.
- Cheshire Cat Grin: Gene Rayburn was always introduced as "That Man with The Grin".
- Long Runner: Four years is a long time for what was essentially a niche series.
- Obvious Rule Patch:
- "I'd Like To Be" was replaced by "Secret Wish" on September 22, 1953.
- The panel area was expanded to occupy four celebrities beginning on February 7, 1954, which decreased the payouts to $20 per stumped celebrity...and as a result, stumping the panel only awarded $5 more than it had prior to the change.
- Beginning on January 10, 1955 the show began using a segment where a relative of a famous celebrity would appear, and the panel had to guess the celebrity. Ill-fitting for the show's premise, and not even played every week, it was discontinued on June 13.
- Product Placement: Compared to some of Name's fellow shows of the era, the sponsor elements were very low-key, consisting of mainly just a company icon (an "S" for Swanson, the mermaid for Chicken of the Sea, etc.) on the default positions of the scoreboard. Swanson presented live in-studio frying of its chicken for its commercials, and bits remain in some GSN airings of Lewis reacting to the tempting aroma of fried chicken.
- The biggest product placement came with the Ralston sponsorship, as the company redid the whole set and curtains in its trademark checkerboard-square pattern.
- Red Scare: Yes, even in a game show. Mark Goodson stated that "for whatever reason, no doubt budgetary, ABC did not maintain an elaborate monitoring department, and it soon became clear that here was a venue where I could use otherwise blacklisted performers." One of them was Name regular Abe Burrows, who had been cleared of any Communist ties but still couldn't be on TV. Despite a massive amount of (organized) letters calling for his ousting, Goodson refused to remove Burrows from the show until a Syracuse supermarket owner began a campaign to boycott Swanson's products by claiming the Name sponsor was using consumer funds to hire Communists — and the campaign snowballed to the point where many retailers stopped carrying Swanson items altogether. Finally, in November 1952, Goodson was kindly told that even though Burrows was innocent, Swanson just couldn't risk going bankrupt.
: So Abe was axed. When I informed Burrows of the bad news, he understood. He'd been aware of the situation and thanked us for keeping him on as long as we had. Luckily, Abe was not really damaged since he had a major hit on Broadway.
- Take That: The April 25, 1955 episode seemed specifically designed to mock Arthur Godfrey's firing of Julius LaRosa sixteen months earlier. Considering the hosts at this point were Bob & Ray, who had already spoofed Godfrey and his show on their radio program, this wasn't surprising.