Remembering “The Match Game”

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One of the best game shows in the history of television, The Match Game premiered 51 years ago on the NBC Television Network during daytime from 1962-1969 and then on the CBS Television Network from 1973-1979.

The premise of the game was simple: two contestants matched wits with six celebrity panelists who won prizes and money if their answers to leering, double-entendre questions asked by host Gene Rayburn matched those of the panel. In each episode, announcer Johnny Olson (who actually flew to Los Angeles each week to do the show but lived in West Virginia) would start off with the line “match wits with the stars,” then the camera would have a shot of each celebrity. The show featured such celebrities as Richard Dawson (“Hogan’s Heroes”), Charles Nelson Reilly, and Brett Somers. Others that would appear included Marcia Wallace (“The Bob Newhart Show”), Fannie Flagg, Betty White (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show”), and Dick Martin (“Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In”).

The questions were always suggestive and bawdy. You could expect to hear something like, “Did you see that girl at the corner? She has the biggest (fill in the blank).” T”The show also had a very catchy theme which started off with a funky guitar theme.”

Johnny Olson started the show with the line “Get Ready To Match Wits With The Stars,” then read the names of the celebrity panel, then say, “as we play the star studded, big money, Match Game ’74!!”…and now here’s the star of Match Game ’74……Gene Rayburn!!!!!!!”  Gene had the coolest microphone….a stick mic as we call it…….unlike today’s wireless mics.

Many of the personalities on this show have passed on but this show will forever be one of the top network and syndicated games ever produced in the history of television.

See you next time.

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