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Match Game

Match Game, also called The Match Game, was an American television game show that celebrities and contestants answering fill-in-the-blank questions. It was hosted for most of its time on air by Gene Rayburn. The most famous versions of the 1970s and 1980s, starting with Match Game '73, were remembered for their bawdy and sometimes rowdy humor and involved contestants trying to match six celebrities.

Game play

This section describes game play in the 1973-82 version of the program. For game play in other versions, see "Broadcast history" below.

Game play of the main Match Game

Two contestants, including a returning champion, competed. The champion was seated in the upstage (red circle) seat and the challenger was seated in the downstage (green triangle) seat. On Match Game PM and the daily syndicated version, a coin toss was held backstage to determine the positions. The object was to match the answers of as many of the six celebrity panelists as possible on fill-in-the-blank statements.

The main game was played in two rounds. The challenger was given a choice of two statements labeled either "A" or "B." Rayburn then read the statement. While the contestant pondered an answer, the six celebrities wrote their answers on index cards. After they finished, the contestant was polled for an answer. Rayburn then asked each celebrity — one at a time, beginning with #1 in the upper left hand corner — to respond.

While early questions were similar to the NBC version (e.g., "Name a type of muffin" and "Every morning, John puts _________ on his cereal"), the questions quickly became funnier. Comedy writer Dick DeBartolo, who had participated in the 1960s Match Game, now contributed broader and saucier questions for host Rayburn. Frequently, the statements were written with bawdy, double-entendre answers in mind. A classic example: "Did you catch a glimpse of that girl on the corner? She has the world's biggest _________."

Frequently, the audience responded appropriately as Rayburn critiqued the contestant's answer (for the "world's biggest" question, Rayburn might show disdain to an answer such as "fingers" or "bag", and compliment an answer such as "rear end" or "boobs," often also commenting on the audience's approving or disapproving response). The audience usually would groan or boo when a contestant gave a bad answer, whereas they would cheer and applaud in approval of a good answer. There were a handful of potential answers that were prohibited, the most notable being any synonym for genitalia.

The contestant earned one point for each celebrity who wrote down the same answer (or reasonably similar as determined by the judges; for example, "rear end" could be matched by "bottom", "behind," "derrière", "fannie," "hiney," etc.) up to a maximum of six points for matching everyone. After play was completed on one contestant's question, Rayburn read the statement on the other card for the opponent and play was identical.

Popular questions featured "Dumb Dora" or her male counterpart, "Dumb Donald." These questions would often begin, "Dumb Dora/Donald is/was so dumb..." or "Dumb Dora/Donald is/was REALLY dumb." To this, the audience would respond en masse, "How dumb IS/WAS he/she?" Then Rayburn would finish the question. Other common subjects of questions were Superman/Lois Lane, King Kong/Fay Wray, panelists on the show (most commonly Brett Somers), politicians, and Howard Cosell. Rayburn always played the action for laughs, and he frequently tried to read certain questions in character; for example, he would recite questions involving a made-up character named "Old Man Periwinkle," or "102-year-old Mr. Periwinkle," in a weak, quavering voice (he also did Periwinkle's female counterpart, "Old Mrs. Pervis"). Charles Nelson Reilly, one of the regular panelists and one who was often involved with directing Broadway plays, would often make remarks regarding Rayburn's acting such as "I like when you act" and "That was mediocre" when Rayburn did a voice like this; this tended to draw a big laugh from the audiences. At times, questions would deal with the fictitious (and often sleazy) country of "Nerdo Crombezia".

Whichever player was ahead in points after Round 1 always began Round 2. This rule ensured that both players would be able to play 2 meaningful questions. (Without this rule, a player who had only answered one question could be ahead of another player who had played both his questions, rendering the final question moot.) Only celebrities that a contestant did not match could play this second round. On Match Game PM and the daily syndicated version from 1979–1982, whoever led after a round got to choose a question first in the next round.

The second round questions were generally easier and were usually puns that had a "definitive" answer (for instance, "Did you hear about the new religious group of dentists? They call themselves the Holy _____.", where the definitive answer would be "Molars"), whereas the first round usually had a number of possible answers. This was to help trailing contestants pick up points quickly.

On Match Game PM, a third round was added after the first season as the games proved to be too short to fill the half-hour. Again, the only celebrities who played were those who did not match that contestant in previous rounds.

Tie-breaker rounds

If the players had the same score at the end of "regulation," the scores were reset to 0-0. On PM (or on the syndicated daytime show, if time was running short), a time-saving variant of the tie-breaker was used that reversed the game play. The contestants would write their answers first on a card in secret, then the celebrities were canvassed to give their answers. The first celebrity response to match a contestant's answer gave that contestant the victory; if there were still no match (which was rare), the round was replayed with a new question. On the CBS version, the tie-breaker went on until there was a clear winner. If it came to the sudden-death tie-breaker, only the final question (the one that ultimately broke the tie) was kept and aired.

The CBS daytime version had returning champions and the show "straddled"--that was, episodes often began and ended with games in progress.

On the CBS daytime show, champions could stay until defeated or reached the network's limit of $25,000. Originally, that was the maximum earning for any champion, but the rule was later changed so that while champions were still retired after exceeding the $25,000 limit, they got to keep everything up to $35,000. During the six year run of Match Game on CBS, only one champion retired undefeated.

On the daily '79-82 syndicated version, two contestants would play two matches against each other, and then both were retired. The show was timed out so that two new contestants appeared each Monday; this was necessary as the tapes of the show were shipped between stations, and weeks could not be aired in any discernible order (a common syndication practice at the time, known as "bicycling"). If a Friday show ran short, audience members sometimes got to play the game; this occurred on only three occasions.

Episodes of Match Game PM were self-contained, with two new contestants each week.


The winner of the game went on to play the Super Match, which consisted of the Audience Match and the Head-To-Head Match segments, for additional money. On the CBS version, the winner of the game won $100.

Audience Match

A two to four word fill-in-the-blank phrase was given, and it was up to the contestant to choose the most common response based on a studio audience survey. After consulting with three celebrities on the panel for help, the contestant chose an answer. The answers were then revealed; the most popular answer in the survey was worth $500, the second-most popular $250, and the third most popular $100. If a contestant failed to match any of the three answers, the bonus round ended. Two Audience Matches were played on Match Game PM. On at least one occasion on Match Game PM, a contestant failed to win any money on either Audience Match; the contestant then got to play a fill in the blank with the entire panel for $100 per match as a consolation prize, or a possible $200 per match when the Star Wheel was instituted. This has rarely occurred.

Head-To-Head Match

The contestant then had the opportunity to win 10 times what he or she won in the Audience Match by matching another fill-in-the-blank response with a celebrity panelist of his or her choice (therefore, $5,000, $2,500 or $1,000). In order to win the money, the contestant had to match his or her chosen celebrity's response exactly; this meant that multiple forms of the same word, e.g. singular or plural, were usually accepted whereas synonyms were not. If successful, he/she won the money accumulated in both parts of the round. Thus, a maximum of $5,600 ($100 won for winning the match) could be won on the daytime version, or $10,600 when the Star Wheel was instituted. On Match Game PM, a maximum of $11,000 could be won, or $21,000 when the Star Wheel was instituted. The latter has occurred at least twice.

Richard Dawson was the most frequently chosen celebrity in the 1970s version. His knack for matching contestants was so great that producers tried to discourage contestants from repeatedly choosing him, even before the introduction of the Star Wheel; a short-lived rule in 1975 stipulated that a returning champion could not choose the same celebrity again for the Head-to-Head Match, but this only lasted six weeks.

The Star Wheel

The "Star Wheel" was introduced in 1978 and was used until the show ended in 1982. Contestants spun the wheel to determine which celebrity they played with in the Head-To-Head Match, and could double their potential winnings if the wheel landed on an area of gold stars under each celebrity's name (later changed to 3 individual stars per celebrity to increase difficulty for unexplained reasons). The wheel was added to prevent people from constantly choosing Richard Dawson, though the first time it was used, it landed on Richard nonetheless, leading fellow star Charles Nelson Reilly to refer to it on that episode as "the famed and fixed star wheel." The "Star Wheel" was also used in the 1990 version of the show.

Broadcast history

The Match Game (1962-69, NBC)

The original version of The Match Game, created by longtime Goodson-Todman staffer Frank Wayne, premiered December 31 1962, continuing through September 26 1969 on NBC for 1,760 episodes. The program aired at 4 p.m. Eastern/3 p.m. Central. At first, only 11 episodes of The Match Game are reported to survive, the pilot episode (which was recorded) and ten kinescope recordings but other sources report that there are 100 or more kinescope recordings still in existence; the show was originally broadcast live from New York, and most episodes were not recorded for posterity.

For most of its life, the original series of The Match Game was aired live from New York on NBC during the late afternoons, and was a solid if unspectacular hit for the network at the time. Like its successor, this version was hosted by Gene Rayburn and announced by Johnny Olson. Because it was live, and because Olson split time between New York and Miami to announce The Jackie Gleason Show at the same time, sometimes one of NBC's New York staff announcers, such as Don Pardo or Wayne Howell, would fill in for Olson when he could not attend a broadcast.

Other than the basic premise, the main game of The Match Game bore little resemblance to its more famous descendant. Two three-person teams (one celebrity and two contestants) each attempted to match answers to simple questions (some fill-in-the-blank, and some "name a..." type). All six players wrote down answers which were then revealed. Two matching answers on a team earned $25 for the team, and if all three answers matched, the team earned $50. The winning team moved on to a bonus round, the "audience match," and would guess the answers to a recent audience survey ("We asked 100 women, 'How much money should you spend for a hat?'"). Each teammate would think of an answer they felt was given by the greatest number of people; each correct match was worth $50. Three audience match questions were played for a top possible prize of $450.

Questions on this show were far less risqué than on its 1970s incarnation (although it became moreso in its two seasons); most were simple open-ended questions, such as "Name a kind of flower" or "What is the first thing you do when you wake up?" This question format would later be used on Family Feud, which was a Match Game spinoff. Also, these types of questions were common during the early weeks of Match Game 73 revival on CBS-TV in 1973. On March 27, 1967, the show added a "Telephone Match" game, wherein a home viewer and a studio audience member attempted to match a simple fill-in-the-blank question similar to the 70s series' Head-to-Head Match. A successful match won a jackpot which started at $500 and increased by $100 per day until won.

The original 1960s version consistently won its 4:00pm time slot on NBC. After the network suddenly canceled its most popular game shows in 1969 in a major daytime programming overhaul, it was replaced with Letters to Laugh-In at a time when The Match Game was still doing well in the ratings. The Match Game finished third among all network daytime game shows for the 1963–1964 and 1967-1968 seasons (in the latter, behind two other NBC series that would enjoy long runs, Jeopardy! and Hollywood Squares), its highest season rating.

Match Game '7x (1973-79, CBS)

In the summer of 1973, Mark Goodson and Bill Todman resurrected the show as Match Game '73 for CBS, with Rayburn returning as host. The year in the title was updated for the next six years. The gameplay for this version had two solo contestants attempting to match the answers given by a six-celebrity panel. Richard Dawson was the first regular panelist. Due to intense coverage of the Watergate hearings, the network delayed the premiere one week from its slated date of June 25 to July 2.

The first week's panelists, in seating order, were Michael Landon, Vicki Lawrence, Jack Klugman, Jo Ann Pflug, Richard Dawson, and Anita Gillette. Rayburn reassured viewers of the first CBS show that it was their longtime standby, modernized: "This is your old favorite, updated with more action, more money, and, as you can see, more celebrities."

The first few weeks of the show were somewhat different from the rest of the show's run. At first, some (although not all) of the questions fit into the more bland and perfunctory mold of the previous version (closer to the later seasons of the original series than the earlier seasons). In addition, the regular panelists were somewhat different as well, with frequent appearances by people such as Jack Klugman, Arlene Francis, Bert Convy (who would later be selected as a host for the 1990 revival before being diagnosed with a brain tumor that eventually took his life) and Steve Allen (who was host of The Tonight Show when Rayburn served as announcer).

However, the turning point came with the question "Johnny always put butter on his _____." The (perhaps unintentional) double entendre marked a turning point in the questions on the show. (The GSN documentary on the show has writer DeBartolo saying the question was first used in the 1960s version.) Soon, the tone of Rayburn's questions changed notably, leaving behind the staid topics of The Match Game for more risqué, schticky, and double-entendre-laden humor. Famous celebrity panelists Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly began as guest panelists on the program (Somers at the request of Jack Klugman; the two were married at the time and Klugman felt she would make a nice fit on the program). The chemistry between the two prompted Goodson-Todman and CBS to hire them as regular panelists, the positions that Somers would hold until the syndicated version ended in 1982 and Reilly would continue through two revivals until 1991 (with a brief break in 1974-75, when Gary Burghoff, Nipsey Russell, and the equally flamboyant Rip Taylor took his chair). In one episode, Reilly was late for taping and Mark Goodson filled in for him for the first few minutes; in another, announcer Johnny Olson did the same.

The CBS/syndicated version was produced by veteran Goodson-Todman producer Ira Skutch. Aside from being involved with the writing of some of the questions, Skutch also acted as on-stage judge. The CBS/syndicated version was directed by Marc Breslow, and Robert Sherman acted as associate producer and head writer.

When CBS revamped The Match Game in 1973, with more of a focus on risqué humor, ratings more than doubled in comparison with the NBC incarnation. Within eleven weeks, Match Game '73 was the most watched program on daytime television. By the summer of 1974, it grew into an absolute phenomenon with high school students and housewives, scoring remarkable ratings among the 12-34 year old age demographic. The best ratings this version of Match Game saw were in the 1975–1976 season when it drew an outstanding 12.5 rating with a 15 share, higher numbers than that of some primetime series; this was due in part to the fact that it had been paired with The Price Is Right, a hit in its own right, during this time. It surpassed records as the most popular daytime program ever with an astounding record of 11 million daily viewers, one that held until the "Luke and Laura" supercouple storyline gripped viewers on ABC's General Hospital some years later.

Every New Year's Eve, the two-digit year designation in the Match Game sign was updated to reflect the coming of the new year, resulting in a New Year's party between the cast and the audience. This lasted until 1979, before CBS canceled the show.

In 1976, the show's success -- and celebrity panelist Richard Dawson's popularity -- prompted Goodson-Todman to develop a new show for ABC entitled Family Feud, with Dawson emceeing. This show became a major hit in its own right, eventually exceeding the parent program. Family Feud was said to be based on Dawson's expertise on Match Game's "Audience Match".

Meanwhile, the daytime version of Match Game kept its high standing in the ratings, despite a short-lived move ahead one half-hour during summer and fall 1975. In late 1977, however, CBS made a fatal mistake regarding the show's time slot. Impressed with the ratings boon that resulted when The Price Is Right and Match Game were paired in afternoons, CBS soon realized that in the morning slot that Price had left behind, they had a ratings crisis. Thus, CBS decided move Match Game along with Price back to the morning time slot. However, because much of Match Game's audience was composed of students who were in school at that time of day, ratings began to sag and eventually freefall; many of these students did not return. As a result, Family Feud quickly supplanted Match Game as television's highest-rated game show.

CBS "corrected" the time change (in a sense) in April 1978 with a move that did even more damage: moving Match Game to the 4:00 p.m. "death slot," a slot that by this time many local stations were pre-empting in favor of local or syndicated programming. Also in 1978, CBS rebuilt the Match Game set from the original bright orange to a new set with blue and white colors, as well as revamping the logo from the curved letters to a straight-line lettering it would use for the rest of the run. This was mainly for convenience; with a new Match Game set and sign, a whole new sign no longer had to be built each year as had been done previously. Instead an attachment, designating the year, was simply taken off the end of the revamped Match Game 78 sign and replaced with a new one numbered 79 on New Year's Day 1979. (An alternate attachment was used for Match Game PM.) The rules were also slightly changed at this time, with the abandonment of the "pick a star" for the Head-to-Head Match and the adoption of the "Star Wheel." While the show's top prize nearly doubled (partially to counter the high inflation of the era) and the new feature allowed more celebrities the chance to participate in the end game, it also eliminated what effectively was Richard Dawson's "spotlight" feature. Dawson, increasingly unhappy with his role on Match Game and more strongly committed to Family Feud by that time, left the show in the summer of 1978, a few short weeks after the revamp.

After significant ratings drops in the "death slot" (falling behind Feud, Price, and NBC's Wheel of Fortune to fall out of the top three game shows in 1979 for the first time in the CBS run), CBS aired its 1,445th and final Match Game on April 20, 1979.


Reruns of this version of Match Game currently air on GSN. Match Game '7x airs weekdays at 1:30PM Eastern during GSN Live and the daily syndicated version airs weekends at 11:00AM Eastern. Match Game PM was last seen on the network in 2006 in a weekend afternoon time slot.

Match Game PM (1975-1981, syndication)

On September 8, 1975, the first syndicated Match Game, a weekly nighttime series dubbed Match Game PM, premiered on local stations (mainly ABC affiliates such as WABC). The series was produced by Goodson-Todman and distributed by Jim Victory Television, G-T's syndication partner for the series Concentration.

Match Game PM was designed to be self-contained, the first Match Game series to have that distinction. The front game was originally played the same way as the daytime Match Game, with two rounds of questions, but partway through the first season a third round of questioning was added as too much time would be left between the Super Match round and the end of the show. The maximum score a contestant could achieve remained six points, with matched celebrities not playing subsequent questions.

Tiebreakers were conducted differently. Instead of playing two new questions, one Super Match-style question was asked, and instead of the players trying to match the celebrities' answers the players were looking for a celebrity to match their answer. Four were available to choose from and the player whose answer was matched first won the game.

Match Game PM's Super Match differed slightly from the daytime series' game, in that two Audience Matches were played. The same scoring rules applied, and if a contestant failed to score the round ended. The answer values from each of the two Audience Match questions were combined and the player played for ten times that amount, with a maximum of $11,000 available. When the Star Wheel was introduced to Match Game PM around the same time the daytime series introduced it, that potential payout grew to $21,000 (depending on whether a contestant spun a double).

Match Game PM ran until the end of the 1980-1981 TV season, the last two seasons with a reduced affiliate count as many of the markets the show was airing in were also showing the syndicated series that debuted in September 1979. The show aired 230 episodes before its cancellation, and its six seasons make it the longest running of the syndicated Match Game series (when measured by seasons; the daily series that followed aired more than twice as many total episodes).

(The) Match Game (1979-82, syndication)

After the cancellation of Match Game '7x in 1979, the was still enough interest in the series for Goodson-Todman and its syndication partner Jim Victory Television to consider a continuation. Match Game, now without a year attached to the title and referred to occasionally on air as "The Match Game," returned to television on September 10, 1979, once again airing daily. In this series, two players played against each other in two games, with a Super Match being played after each game. There were no returning champions and contestants no longer won $100 for winning a game. Outside of that everything else from Match Game '7x was carried over to the daily syndicated series, including the Star Wheel.

The maximum payout for a contestant was $21,000 (two $500 Audience Matches, two $10,000 Head-to-Head Match wins), the same its syndicated sister series Match Game PM was offering during this time.

From 1979 to 1981, Bill Daily, Dick Martin, Richard Paul, and Bob Barker were among the male semi-regulars who filled Dawson's old spot on the panel. McLean Stevenson became a regular during the show's final season, although he did appear occasionally during the 1980–1981 season.

Also, the fee plugs which had aired in the middle of the show on the CBS version were featured during the closing credits. The ticket plugs were now shown on every episode. Each ticket plug had two people's faces merged into one image by putting a man's face on a woman's head, putting a mustache on a woman's face, or putting a pair of red lips on a man's face or simply putting two halves of the faces together. The 1990 ABC version used a similar sequence to introduce the stars.

The daytime syndicated show's 525th and final episode aired on September 10 1982, exactly three years after its debut.

The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour (1983–84, NBC)

In 1983, producer Mark Goodson teamed up with Orion Television, who had recently acquired the rights to Hollywood Squares, and NBC to create The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour. Rayburn, after a year as a morning show host in New York, agreed to return as host. However, few of the regular Squares cast appeared on this version. Jon Bauman served as the lone regular panelist on this version, and the two swapped seats for Hollywood Squares, with Bauman serving as host and Rayburn as the lower lefthand square. Gene Wood served as announcer, with Olson and Rich Jeffries substituting.

These rules were roughly the same as those of Match Game PM, with both contestants given three chances apiece to match each panelist once. The major difference was in the tie-breaker. Four possible answers to a Super Match-like statement (example: "_____, New Jersey") were secretly shown to the contestants (examples: "Atlantic City," "Hoboken," "Newark," "Trenton"). They each chose one by number. The host then polled the celebrities for verbal responses. The first panelist to give an answer selected by one of the contestants won the game for that contestant. The winner of the Match Game segment played the returning champion in the Hollywood Squares segment with the eventual winner of Squares playing the Super Match. The Audience Match featured payoffs of $1,000, $500 and $250, while non-matching players were given $100. For the Head-to-Head Match, the contestant picked a celebrity, who revealed a hidden number (10, 20, 30); that number was multiplied by the contestant's Audience Match winnings to determine the grand prize ($30,000 was the top possible amount). Champions remained on the program for up to five days unless defeated.

The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour ran from October 1983 to July 1984. All episodes are presumed to be intact, but because of the cross-ownership (CBS Television Distribution currently owns the rights to Hollywood Squares, which at the time of MGHS was owned by Orion Television; Fremantle Media owns Match Game) The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour has never been rerun on any network.

The MGHS theme is still used today as a car cue on The Price Is Right.

Match Game (1990-91, ABC)

In 1989, ABC, who had not carried a daytime game show since Bargain Hunters in 1987, decided to revive Match Game. The producers, including Jonathan Goodson, who took over the show at this time, selected Bert Convy, a former Match Game panelist in the early days of the program, as host, to make up for the fact that his previous show, Super Password, had recently been canceled. Convy would film several episodes (later classified as pilots) for the show; however, in April 1990 Convy was diagnosed with what would be a terminal brain tumor, and thus could not serve as host as originally planned. Rayburn (who had just finished hosting what would be his last show, The Movie Masters) reportedly expressed an interest in returning to the show, and his name was considered, but producers once again declined. Ross Shafer, a comedian, former talk show host, and emcee of the 1986 USA Network game show Love Me, Love Me Not, took over. Charles Nelson Reilly returned as a regular panelist, and Brett Somers served as a guest panelist in several episodes. Vicki Lawrence, Sally Struthers, Brad Garrett and Ronn Lucas were among the semi-regulars for this version of the show. Gene Wood returned as announcer.

Notably, this show was up against another Goodson-Todman series, To Tell the Truth, in the same time slot on NBC. Mark Goodson produced Truth while son Jonathan produced Match Game.

On this version, matches were worth money instead of points. Each match during the two Match Game rounds was worth $50. All panelists played both questions for each player, whether or not they matched in the first round.

After each round of questions, contestants were given a chance to build their scores further by playing a new round called "Match-Up!" with one panelist of their choice, similar to the Head-To-Head Match rules from 1973-78. This was a rapid-fire series of Super Match-style questions, with two possible answers given; the contestant chose one secretly, and the panelist picked the one s/he felt the contestant picked. This process continued until time expired. The first Match-Up! round was played for 30 seconds at $50 per match, while the second lasted 45 seconds for $100 per match. Whomever had the most money at the end of the second Match-Up! round won the game and kept the money; the loser went away with only parting gifts.

The Super Match was played identically to the 1978–82 version of the round (with a green arrow spinning around the Star Wheel instead of the actual wheel spinning and two red dots on each star's space as "double" spaces). Originally, the payoffs of $500–$250–$100 for the Audience Match were identical to the CBS version's payoff structure; however, unlike the 1970s versions of the show, if the contestant did not match any of the three answers on the board, the contestant got play for $500 ($1,000 in case of a double) in the Super Match (in the original '70s versions, the bonus game would end). After a few weeks, the payoff structure changed to $500–$300–$200 for each Audience Match answer, with the contestant playing for $1,000 ($2,000 in case of a double) if the contestant did not match.

Due to many ABC stations in major markets carrying news at noon, the show got few clearances, the ones it got being mostly in smaller markets without noon newscasts, and was canceled one year after its premiere. A proposed move to another network (rumored to be CBS) for the 1991-92 season had been announced on the season finale but never materialized. It has the distinction of being ABC's last daytime game show to date.

All episodes of this version of the show are believed to be intact. GSN aired this version as recently as 2004.

Match Game (1998–99, syndication)

A pilot was shot in 1997 for a revised version of the show, to be called Match Game 2, with Charlene Tilton (a panelist on the 1979-82 version) to host. It featured gameplay routines unheard of in the history of the show:

  • Instead of the celebrities writing down answers and contestants providing them verbally, MG2 switched the roles around, similar to the tiebreaker in Match Game PM.
  • In the Super Match, the Head-To-Head Match was thrown out and a "Panel Poll" took its place. In the "Panel Poll," each celebrity was given a choice of three adjectives, and the contestant had to guess who picked what at $100 per match. (In the Audience Match, instead of having the third, second and most popular answers worth money, they were worth multiples of the contestant's earnings: the third most popular would double the "Panel Poll" winnings, the second most popular would multiply it by 4, and the most popular would multiply it by 5 for a top prize of only $2,500.)
    Many elements of the pilot, such as a change from a six-celebrity panel to a five-celebrity panel, were kept in for a second pilot shot a year later (with Michael Burger as host), which would eventually lead to the 1998 revival.

Michael Burger eventually ended up serving as host of this version, and Paul Boland served as announcer. The only personnel connections to previous versions of Match Game was Vicki Lawrence, who was a regular on this version and also served as a frequent panelist on both the 1970s version and the 1990 version, and Nell Carter, who had appeared on the final episode of the 1991 version. Both Carter and Lawrence were regulars on this version. Reilly and Somers did not make any appearances in this version; Reilly's chair was filled by Judy Tenuta.

This incarnation of Match Game was played with rules nearly identical to that of Match Game 73, including its $5,000 top prize, with a few minor exceptions. The show featured a panel of only five celebrities, instead of the usual six. Questions in this version were not labeled A or B, but instead, titles with puns were a clue as to the content (à la Win Ben Stein's Money). Each match was worth one point in Round One and two points in Round Two. As on the 1990–91 version, all five panelists played each round regardless of whether they matched a player on the first question. After two rounds, the highest scorer played the Super-Match Game, which was played identically to its 1973-78 incarnation, even matching the top prize of $5,000. If no match was made in the Audience Match portion of the Super-Match Game, the contestant played for $500 in the Head-To-Head Match.

This version was noted for its sometimes over-the-top risqué humor of the celebrities and contestants. For instance, the prohibition on answers such as genitalia was no longer existent. On many episodes, answers that were deemed inappropriate for daytime TV were edited out with a "cuckoo" dubbed over the audible answer and a "CENSORED" graphic over the answer card and sometimes the person's mouth.

While Burger generally received positive reviews for his hosting, the show was mostly panned. Its humor was seen to have crossed the line from risqué into the out-and-out dirty, and so many stations pushed it into the late night slots. Its low budget was also a focal point for criticism (especially since other Match Game versions offered prizes well in excess of $10,000 in an era when purchasing power was roughly twice that of 1998).

This version lasted a year and was canceled in 1999; it has never been rerun, though brief clips have been seen on various game-show blooper specials.

Match Game (2008-, TBS)

In March 2008, TBS announced that a new version of Match Game, produced by FremantleMedia North America, would be part of the network's development slate for the fall 2008 season. According to The Hollywood Reporter, TBS claims this will be "the network's biggest foray into game shows" since the network's short-lived attempt in 2006 with the Endemol USA-produced Midnight Money Madness. According to a report on (and confirmed by Variety), the series is expected to follow in the footsteps of the 1998 revival by crossing into the overtly raunchy; as a result, the show is designated for the network's late night television schedule. On June 19, 2008, two pilot episodes were taped at Studio 33 at CBS Television City in Los Angeles (where the 1973 and 1998 versions were taped). The new version features a set similar to the one used in the early years of the 1970s version as well as the same music cues from that era. The new version is hosted by Andrew Daly and comedians Sarah Silverman and Norm MacDonald have been confirmed as celebrity panelists.

If the new revival makes it to broadcast prior to the start of 2010, it will become one of only ten game shows to have been produced and aired in five consecutive decades (in this case, the 1960s through 2000s).

Other revivals

Plans were in place in the fall of 1985 to re-launch Match Game as a stand-alone series, in conjunction with the revival of The Nighttime Price Is Right. Rayburn was once again to serve as host, but producers believed that he was too old and was becoming uncooperative. He went on to host the new version of Break the Bank, but would end up being dismissed after 13 weeks due to production feuds similar to those he had on The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour. Thus the project was abandoned, and Match Game reruns aired in lieu of new episodes. (Some sources list the year 1987 as the date of this possible revival, which would have placed it after his firing from Break the Bank.)

Vanity Fair and reported in May 2004 a pilot for a remake of Match Game called What the Blank! It was taped for FOX, and hosted by Fred Willard for air during the summer 2004 "off" season. It was said that the game was apparently an incorporation of 21st-Century elements into the classic game and also, a feature was added that people from along the streets would be able to participate for matching with contestants and celebrities in Street Smarts-style. FOX abruptly canceled the series before the show made it to air; the status of any episodes produced is unknown.

On June 22, 2006, Match Game was the sixth of seven classic game shows featured in CBS's month-long Gameshow Marathon, hosted by Ricki Lake and announced by Rich Fields. The contestants were Kathy Najimy and Lance Bass. The game was played as the second of two "semi-final" games in the tournament, with panelists Betty White, George Foreman, Kathy Griffin, Bruce Vilanch, Adam Carolla, and Adrianne Curry. White would retain her infamous sixth seat position on the panel and would also be the only one to be from the original series to appear for this segment of the Gameshow Marathon. Lake used the same signature long thin Sony ECM-51 telescoping microphone Rayburn used during the CBS version. In this episode, Najimy won the game, scoring five matches to Bass's three. The format was essentially that of Match Game PM, except that in the Super-Match Game, the Head-To-Head Match was played for 50 times the amount won in the two Audience Matches.

Series legacy

The program's simple "fill in the blank" question format has spawned numerous imitators, and radio shows across the country have used the format for call-in contests.

Among television series and films that have paid homage to Match Game include fellow Goodson-Todman series The Price is Right (in a 2007 showcase and also some of host Drew Carey's Season 37 entrances through Door #2), Family Guy (twice), Private Parts (with Howard Stern as Rayburn and Robin Quivers as Somers), Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Craig Kilborn's The Daily Show and Late Late Show (in his "Five Questions" segment), The Simpsons, and Saturday Night Live (most recently on May 10, 2008 as a game show titled "It's A Match" which used the Match Game 7x/PM theme with a different arrangement).

Today, the 1973–1982 incarnation is shown in reruns daily on Game Show Network and is the network's "Greatest Game Show of All Time". Virtually all episodes of this version are still extant, although some reportedly are not shown due to celebrities's refusals of clearances. On November 26 2006, GSN broadcast an hour-long documentary on Match Game titled The Real Match Game Story: Behind The Blanks, featuring rarely seen footage of the 1960s version, many odd or memorable moments from the main 1973-82 series, and interviews with Rayburn, Somers, Dawson, DeBartolo, producer Ira Skutch, and others involved in the show's production.

Presently, Richard Dawson is the only surviving regular personality from the 1970s version of the show; announcer Johnny Olson died in 1985, host Gene Rayburn died in 1999, and Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly both died in 2007. Most of the semi-regulars, however, are still alive.

Hosts, announcers and celebrity panelists

NOTE: Starting with the top left corner as #1 (which was always a rotating or guest male panelist and was usually the first panelist polled for his/her answer), Somers regularly occupied #2 (top middle), Reilly #3 (top right); as did Burghoff during Reilly's absence, a rotating or guest female panelist occupied #4 (bottom left; in later versions, Bauman and Struthers occupied this slot), Dawson (later Daily and Stevenson) #5 (bottom middle), and #6 (bottom right) featured a rotation of Fannie Flagg, Betty White, Joyce Bulifant, Patti Deutsch, Debralee Scott, Joanne Worley & Marcia Wallace.


Match Game has had several theme songs throughout its 35+ years. For the 1962 version (and continuing to 1967), the instrumental version of A Swingin' Safari by Bert Kaempfert was used as the theme. From 1967 to 1969, a new theme composed by Score Productions was adopted.

With the launch of Match Game '73, Goodson-Todman once again turned to Score Productions for a music package. A new theme was composed with a memorable "funk" guitar intro that grew to become one of the most famous game show themes of the 1970s. There are also alternate versions of the theme -- one shorter and one with bongos. The 1970s music package also contained the show's "think cues," i.e. cues used when the panel wrote down their answers, as well as two separate Head-to-Head Match cues, the ticket plug/consolation prize cue and a separate "burlesque" music cue. The 1973 theme is currently heard on The MJ Morning Show.

In keeping with the zany atmosphere, the music supervisors would also use other notable musical works to add to humorous situations. Among the non-Score Productions music heard on occasion were the "burlesque" music ("The Stripper"), "There's No Business Like Show Business," "When the Saints Go Marching In", "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Stars and Stripes Forever", and the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive". "Auld Lang Syne" was played on every New Year's Eve show from 1973 until 1979.

The music for the Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour was composed by Edd Kalehoff. None of the music used from the 1970s version was used in this revival. The main theme song and several of its cue versions are still used on The Price is Right.

For the 1990 revival, Score Productions re-orchestrated the 1970s theme with more modern instruments. The think cues were also re-done, but stayed the same throughout; and one "Super Match" cue was penned. A new, simple opening cue was composed, but this cue was not used as a think cue.

The 1998 revival used music from Score Productions, but this theme was more of a spoof of the 1970s theme than a re-recording. However, the music paid tribute to the 1970s version by having the having a re-recording of the "funk" guitar think cue in its opening and the original serving as the show's first think theme.

Related products

Home versions

Milton Bradley created all the home versions of the show from the 60s and 70s versions. Six editions were created for the 60s show, differing from the series in scoring and bonus game format. The more popular 70s version had three editions, the first two consisting of generally straightforward questions; the third edition better reflected the show's change into a comedy-driven game. In addition, Endless Games released a DVD edition of the game in 2007. They have already released DVD editions of The Price is Right, Password and The Newlywed Game.

Internet versions

After success with the online version of Family Feud, released a single-player version of MG. However, as of September 30 2006, shut down, no longer offering games or content of any kind.

GSN offered an interactive version of the game on their website that allows users to play along with episodes of the show as they air. However, as of January 1 2007, only those shows airing between 7 PM and 10 PM are interactive; Match Game is not among these.

DVD editions

A "Best of" DVD of the 1970s edition was released on November 21, 2006. This "best of" set consists of four DVDs with thirty original episodes including prize plugs and ticket plugs. The set includes a selection of notable episodes along with random episodes from throughout the run. Notable episodes include the first CBS Daytime episode (incorrectly referred to as the pilot episode), Kirstie Alley's appearances before she became an actress as well as a young Jamie Lee Curtis on the panel (also notable for Gene destroying the doors in the intro), the 1962 NBC pilot, the last syndicated episode, a female contestant responding to a question with an answer "boobs", the lower tier impersonating the upper tier, Gene striking the cue card holder as well as fighting with a camera, the "School Riot" episode, and Brett and Charles' first appearances on the panel. A condensed one-disc "Dumb Dora Edition" was released in March 2007.

Slot machine

Match Game has been incorporated into a casino slot machine. This version features five simulated reels and a simulation of Rayburn as the host. It recreates the 1973–1982 version of the show, with Reilly, Somers, Jimmie Walker, Rip Taylor, Vicki Lawrence and Morgan Fairchild as the celebrity players. The slot machine's bonus rounds are faithful to the original game format--one round is adapted from the main game, the second from the "Super-Match" bonus round. (Morgan Fairchild never appeared as a panelist on the Rayburn version of Match Game.)

Versions outside the United States Of America

In the United Kingdom, it was known as Blankety Blank and was presented by Terry Wogan, Les Dawson and Lily Savage.

In Australia, two versions existed. The original 1960s The Match Game was imitated, with the same name, hosted by Michael McCarthy. The second, more commonly known version, based upon the 1970s version, is known as Blankety Blanks, presented by Graham Kennedy, which was a ratings hit for the 0-10 Network in 1977-78. (This show is not to be confused with an unrelated American show by the same name, appearing on ABC and hosted by Bill Cullen.) Like many Australian game shows during the 1970s-1990s, the 1977-78 Kennedy version was remarkably similar to the American show, right down to the set, "spinning box" opening and "Get ready to match the stars!" tagline. The signature music from the American version was not used, however. A later version appeared on the Nine Network in 1985, hosted by Daryl Somers, and again in 1996 hosted by Shane Bourne.

The Netherlands also had its own version during the mid-1980s. It had the same title as the UK version.

In Germany, Match Game had a 150-episode run as Punkt, Punkt, Punkt (Dot, Dot, Dot - an allusion to an ellipsis) in the early 1990s on satellite and cable network Sat.1. The show was hosted by Mike Krüger.

In Mexico, the game was called Espacio en Blanco (Blank Space) and was hosted by Mauricio Barcelata. The show had a 40-episode run in 2006.

In Turkey, the game was called Şansını Dene and aired in the early 1990s on Show TV. The show was hosted by Mehmet Ali Erbil.

Notes and references

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External links

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