FLASH FRIDAY: Broadway Meets Baseball When Willie Mays Visits WHAT'S MY LINE

It's no mere coincidence that the era we refer to as the Golden Age of Broadway took place at a time when New York based television shows frequently turned to Broadway for its talent.

The most popular example by far is the dozens of musicals that performed selections throughout the years on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, but viewers nationwide also received a hefty amount of exposure to Broadway from the CBS game show, WHAT'S MY LINE?

From 1950 through 1967, the show was hosted with intelligence and wit by news journalist John Daly. Contestants were average Americans who might have unusual occupations. Four celebrity panelists would try to determine their occupation by asking questions that could be answered with a yes or a no.

So where was the Broadway connection? Every week WHAT'S MY LINE? would feature a mystery celebrity guest. Panelists would be blindfolded as they asked questions to try and identify the famous personality. Since the program was broadcast live on Sunday nights at 10:30pm, it was very convenient for stars like Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli or Robert Preston to appear as mystery guests and promote their new shows.

The panel was also flavored with Broadway celebs. Entertainment columnist Dorothy Kilgallen appeared on the show regularly from the first season until her death in 1965. Broadway star Arlene Francis was another regular, as well as Random House editor Bennett Cerf. The fourth chair was frequently occupied by Broadway denizens such as Kitty Carlisle, Tony Randall or Phyllis Newman.

But since it's the first week of a new baseball season, this week's Flash Friday takes us back to 1954, when New York Giants star Willie Mays made his first appearance as a WHAT'S MY LINE? mystery guest. He would appear on the show twice more and each time his identity was guessed by the same panelist. Can you guess which one?

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From This Author Michael Dale

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