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

Thursday, July 1, 2021

What's My Line?: Olivia de Havilland

Welcome friends!

If youʼve stuck around this blog for a while you know that I love classic hollywood and I love birthdays, so when you can stick them together Iʼm a happy person! The birthday that Iʼm talking about today is bittersweet, though. 
Olivia de Havilland was born 105 years ago today, and this is the first birthday of hers that Iʼve celebrated on this blog where she wasnʼt with us. I didnʼt know when I wrote my review for her birthday it would be the last time she was alive on her birthday.

All the same, Iʼm talking about her today! Itʼs been awhile since I did my last post about Whatʼs My Line?, so Iʼm going to talk about her appearance on the show!

The basic rundown that I give you every time:
First of all, what is this game show? What's My Line? was a 30 minute game show that ran from 1950-1975.
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. Each member of the panel would guess until they received a solid "no", a card is flipped, the contestant earns five dollars, and the next person on the panel begins to guess. When all ten cards are flipped the contestant wins! If the panel guess what their line is, then they still get however much money that they won in "nos".

L to R: The three regular panelists, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf, and Dorothy Kilgallen, & the panel moderator, John Daly.

Does this sound boring? Far from it! The occupations are so unique, the panel has a hard time. Sometimes their guesses are so off, that it's a hoot! 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 get to ask one yes or no question before moving onto the next panel member and they have to guess who it is.

Blindfolds ready, panel?

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. 

They are hilarious as they josh with each other! For example, in one of the episodes that Iʼm going to talk about with a different contestant John kept pausing to clarify where Arlene was getting annoyed with it:
Arlene Francis: “John is dubious. How are you, Mr. Dubious?”

The celebrity is how I'm connecting it back to my blog. The plan for this series is to talk about all of certain celebrity's appearances. To me, I think that you can tell a lot about a person based on the way they acted here. Some where shy, some were funny, some were bold, you get the idea!

If I were to review it like I do movies, I would say:
Length: approx. 30 minutes. 25 without advertisements.
Script: 10, Iʼve never heard a bad word.
Content: 9, sometimes there are one or two suggestive comments, but itʼs rare.
Age Range: Iʼve been watching this for a long time, but as I said, I didnʼt used to be interested in the first 2/3. I would say that little kids would like to just watch the mystery guest if they knew who it was, just because they wouldnʼt get how funny the rest of it was (especially if they canʼt read).

It is time to start! Will you come in mystery challenger, and sign in please...

Olivia de Havilland appeared as a contestant on Whatʼs My Line? on four separate occasions. Here are the dates and who was on the panel for each time:

May 25th, 1958: PANEL: Arlene Francis, Eamonn Andrews (who was part of the British version of Whatʼs My Line?), Dorothy Killgallen, & Bennett Cerf (this was Bennettʼs birthday so he had lots of jokes directed his way).

March 4th
(which is the only day of the year that is both a date and a command, by the way), 1962: PANEL: Arlene Francis, Robert Morse, Dorothy Killgallen, & Bennett Cerf.

August 9th, 1964: PANEL:
Arlene Francis, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Dorothy Killgallen, & Bennett Cerf.

August 8th, 1965: PANEL:
Arlene Francis, Martin Gabel, Carol Channing, & Bennett Cerf.

Watching these episodes has me smiling from ear to ear! In each one Dame Olivia was so gracious, with a dazzlingly joyous smile and happy to be there! She always knew the panel and gave them lots of kisses and hugs! Everyone else is always brighter after sheʼs been there, too. After watching these episodes I want to go back in time to bask in her warmth. This amazing lady won two Oscars!

Time to discuss the attempts to disguise her voice! I talk about it with every contestant and I will continue to do so because it never fails to amuse me. She first tried with a French accent, but that didnʼt work as everyone knew that she was living in Paris. A gravelly tone and Russian accent were better alternatives.

They talked about the movies The Proud Rebel (1958) (Bennett said he cried through the whole thing!) and The Lady in a Cage (1964) which is one I havenʼt seen. They also talked about a play she had been part of where Bennett said it was beautiful and (this made me laugh!) she seemed a little sarcastic when she replied, “Yes, itʼs beautiful, thatʼs what everybody says, thatʼs the word they use.” Has anyone else noticed that?

Once someone has been on Whatʼs My Line? the panel usually recognize their tactics when they come back. But unlike others who did the same thing each time, she learned her lesson with each time and improved her methods! Youʼll have to watch the episodes for yourself to see how successful she was. You can find it easily on YouTube.

Here are some of my highlights! Olivia de Havilland will be abbreviated as OdH:

Bennett Cerf: “Would you be considered, by even your worst enemies, to be very very lovely looking?”
OdH: *gave a doubtful look*
John Charles Daly: *yells* “YES!”

Arlene Francis: “Are you better known for your work in pictures than any other medium?”
OdH: *deep gravely hissing voice* Yes
Arlene Francis: *mimicking same voice* Swell!

Dorothy Killgallen: “Have you ever played a dual role in a movie?”
OdH: “Yes.”
(If you were interested, I reviewed such a movie of hers right HERE last year)

John Charles Daly: “Thatʼs one of the great benefits of this job, I want to tell you, not all of you ever get a chance to hold hands with Olivia de Havilland and I do.”

Thatʼs all from me! Iʼve seen seven of her forty-nine feature films, so I have a lot to look forward to! What is your favorite role of hers? I am rather partial to her Maid Marian and Melanie, though her parts in The Dark Mirror (1946) are fascinating! Anything that I've seen her in has been incredible.

Happy birthday, our lovely Olivia. 



  1. This sounds like such a fun show. Also love her reaction to being asked if she was lovely looking.

  2. Love this! I should watch some of the episodes it sounds like a lot of fun!
    Also I love the sound of her, she sounds amazing

  3. Hi MovieCritic! I noticed you posted a banner for my blogathon, the Olympics Dreams Blogathon. Have you decided what you will write about?

    1. Hey, Sally! Man, I can't believe that I've had that banner up since you announced it and still haven't decided! Even after all this thinking I'm not sure if I can participate because I'll be so busy. We'll see. If I can it might be with a review of Full Out (2015). Sorry about any inconvenience!

  4. I love this show, MC! Somehow I haven't seen Olivia's appearances yet. How did I miss it? Will clear that up right away. Love finding another fan of this show.

    Also, I've nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award! If you don't do awards or don't have time, no worries. Just consider it as a thank you for what you do!


    Also, I'd like to invite you to my first blogathon. Would love to have you join if you're interested.



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