"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Monday, August 10, 2020

Presenting...What's My Line: Esther Williams

Good day to all my readers!

Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood is hosting a blogathon in honor of one of her favorite Hollywood stars, Esther Williams! I'm a day late and a dollar short, due to technical difficulties, but I'm still joining!
I had some difficulties choosing what to write about. For a long time I've been wanting to talk about one of my favorite old TV game shows, What's My Line, here on my blog and today has granted me the perfect opportunity to start! Michaela was very gracious with my indecision, so thanks to her!

Okay, now you must be wondering, what is this game show? What's My Line was a 30 minute game show that ran from 1950-1975. This is how it worked:
A panel of four judges try to guess contestants' "lines" (jobs) by asking yes or no questions. The host/panel moderator, John Charles Daly, guided them and helped rework questions to fit the correct format. Anytime there is a solid "no", a card is flipped and the contestant earns five dollars. When all ten cards are flipped the contestant wins!
L to R: The three regular panelists, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf, and Dorothy Kilgallen, & the panel moderator, John Daly.
Now, this might sound boring, but I assure you that it isn't! The occupations are so unique, the panel has a hard time. Plus, the highlight is that after two contestants there is the mystery guest! This guest is a celebrity and would be recognizable, so the judges wear blindfolds and with yes or no questions have to guess who it is.
For ages I would always just skip to the mystery person, but once I started watching full episodes I realized how much I was missing. The celebrity is how I'm connecting it back to my blog. The plan for this series is to talk about all of certain celebrities appearances. To me, I think that you can tell a lot about a person based on the way they acted here.

It is time to start! Will you come in mystery challenger, and sign in please...
What's My Line? - Esther Williams; Martin Gabel [panel] (Sep 6, 1959)

Esther appeared on What's My Line on three different occasions. I'll list the date and panel:

January 16th, 1955: PANEL: Dorothy Kilgallen, Robert Q. Lewis, Arlene Francis, & Bennett Cerf.

July 27th, 1958: PANEL: Dorothy Kilgallen, Dick Clark, Arlene Francis, & Bennett Cerf.

September 6th, 1959: PANEL: Dorothy Kilgallen, Martin Gabel (Arlene's husband), Arlene Francis, & Bennett Cerf.
Her third time around the panel (note, Bennett) were starting to catch on to who this could be.

She was such a great contestant to watch! Some people just sit there and answer yes or no, but she was made such great comments with all of the answers! Contestants sometimes try to disguise their voices so they wouldn't be recognized and Esther had some great ones. Her first episode she sung. In the second I felt so sorry for her because she had laryngitis and whispered all the answers (the panel was not helpful, always saying, "What did she say?" They sounded like a bunch of old people). The third time she used a hilarious Southern accent. She was a harder contestant than usual, because of her amazing swim talent! The panel could usually figure out that she did something else, but they would get stuck focusing on singing and dancing. Her energy was so contagious, John and the panel would start doing whatever she was doing.
Having a "secret conference with John Daly
Here are some of my favorite moments:

Esther after being asked about her hair color: It's terribly chic!

Dorothy: Are you in some branch of the entertainment world?
Esther (singing): I try!
Arlene: Pretty hard, too.

Arlene: Would you consider yourself a leading woman?
Esther: What do you consider yourself?

Bennett: Do you also have a conspicuous talent outside of your thespian ability?
Esther: Mr. Daly, what's he referring to?
Mr. Daly: He's referring to the fact, ma'am, that you are very well known for something besides being an excellent actress in movies.
Esther: I pride myself on being many dimensional.
(She actually used that line in two shows and I'm surprised that the panel didn't catch on sooner...)

I could just sit here and type out the whole dialogue of all three shows, but I'll let you watch it for yourself.

Thanks a million to Michaela for hosting! Check out the other entries HERE.

Thanks to everyone else for reading! Let me know if anyone else has seen What's My Line. If not, it's available on Youtube. Hint, I really like watching it while doing the dishes.

Wishing you all the best!



  1. I've been meaning to watch Esther's appearances on this show and as soon as you picked this topic, I finally sat myself down and checked them out. She was fabulous! I practically giggled non-stop through all three. I don't think people realize how quick-witted she could be.

    Thanks for bringing this fun post to my blogathon!

    1. Oh yay, that makes me so happy! I don't know anyone who has heard of this show so I'm so thrilled that you tried it! Esther was so witty, clever, and brilliantly funny! She was awesome.

      Absolutely! Thanks for hosting and giving me the opportunity to start this series!

  2. I haven't heard of this game show. Sounds really good!


    1. Rakayle, I think you'd get a kick out of the mystery guests!


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