was the same

The Name's the Same

The Name's the Same was an American game show that was produced by Goodson-Todman for the ABC television network from December 5, 1951 to October 7, 1955, and was alternately sponsored by Swanson and Johnson Wax for the majority of its run. It was also sponsored by the Bendix Home Appliance division of Avco early in its run, and Clorets midway through its run. The show's final sponsor, Ralston Purina, also sponsored Ethel and Albert, the program that replaced The Name's the Same on the ABC schedule.


Each standard round featured a contestant who had a "famous name"; i.e., their full name was the same as either a famous person, place or thing (with the latter usually taking the first initial "A.", such as "A. Table"), or occasionally an action (such as "I. Draw", or "Will Kiss"). The contestant was introduced and referred to throughout the game as "Mr. X" or one of two variations ("Miss X" or "Mrs. X" for a woman; "Master X" for a young boy as was the standard at the time). A small curtain was opened to the audience, showing a placard with the contestant's name, along with a drawing depicting the namesake; famous people were often caricatured.

The panelists were allocated 10 questions each, with the number remaining denoted in running tally on the wall behind them. The questions had to be yes or no questions, and were posed to the contestant as if they were the person, place or thing their name represented, with the contestant answering as their namesake. The panel could pass to save some of their questions for later on in the game. Any member of the panel who failed to identify the contestant's name had to write the contestant a check for $25, meaning each contestant won either $50 if their name was guessed by a panelist, or $75 if it was not (or $75 and $100 respectively, when a fourth panelist was added later in the show's run).

Sometimes a contestant's celebrity namesake was brought out at the end of the round to surprise the contestant; other times, a celebrity was the guest without pretext. The celebrity then played a special round called "I'd Like to Be" in which the panel tried to guess, in the same fashion as with civilians, who the celebrity would like to be if they could be anyone else. Later in the show's run, "I'd Like to Be" was replaced with "Secret Wish", in which the panel attempted to guess something that the guest would secretly like to do or have happen; for example, Kirk Douglas wished to coach the Vassar lacrosse team, and Van Johnson wanted Marilyn Monroe to sit on his lap. The celebrity's winnings went to their favorite charity.

Each game typically featured two standard rounds, the celebrity round, and then a final standard round, though episodes sometimes featured one less or one more standard round.


Robert Q. Lewis was the original emcee, from December 1951. During Lewis' two-week vacation in September 1953, film star Brian Aherne substituted for him, as did Conrad Nagel during Lewis' one-week absence earlier that year. The show went on hiatus in 1954 (Lewis insinuated on the August 31 episode that the show's future was in doubt) and returned in October with a new emcee: Dennis James, who remained until June 1955. Bob and Ray hosted from June to early September, and for the final five weeks the hosting chores were taken over by Clifton Fadiman.


The only panelist to remain for the show's entire run was New York-based actress and socialite Joan Alexander. From 1951 to 1953 her co-panelists were Abe Burrows and Meredith Willson. In 1953 Burrows' chair was taken by Carl Reiner and Willson's by sportscaster Bill Stern. Host Lewis would always call on Reiner first when the mystery name was a thing; Reiner's innocent questions always took on funny meanings, followed by Alexander straying even farther away, to the studio audience's delight. (For "A. Harem," Reiner asked, "Is this thing used for recreational purposes?" and Alexander pursued this: "Do fat men use this to reduce their weight?") Lewis would enjoy these detours as much as the audience. It was then left to Stern, a veteran reporter, to zero in on the actual name with serious, shrewd questioning.

In 1954 Gene Rayburn replaced Reiner, and former Miss America Bess Myerson replaced Stern. A fourth panelist was added: humorist Roger Price. The final panelist, who lasted at least six months, was The Honeymooners' Audrey Meadows. Many familiar faces of the era, including Bill Cullen, Mike Wallace, Basil Rathbone, Arnold Stang and Jerry Lester, were guest panelists.


The first theme song, a busy string arrangement, was "Shooting Star" by Sidney Torch and His Orchestra. The second theme song was "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis", about the city where the show's later sponsor Ralston Purina was headquartered.

Foreign versions

A UK version was made for radio (BBC Home Service) and TV (BBC Television) with British namesakes of famous people, buildings and things. A one-off revival edition was produced for BBC Four in 2005 as part of a season of programs detailing the "lost decade" (1945-1955).

Episode Status

At least some episodes of the series were saved as kinescope films; the show is currently re-running on GSN at 3:30 a.m. ET every morning following What's My Line? in GSN's "Black & White Overnight" block. This latest run began on July 14, 2008 with an episode from the summer of 1952.

External links

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