The average life expectancy for men in 2004 was 73.4 years of age. With that in mind, let us look at a few unique facts.
Bob Barker is 83 years old.
Monty Hall is 85.
Peter Marshall is 76.
Hugh Downs is 85
Ed McMahon is 83
Regis Philbin is 75.
Chuck Barris is 77
Dick Clark is 77
Tom Kennedy is 79 and his older brother Jack Narz is 84.
Garry Moore was 77 when he passed away, as was What’s My Line’s John Charles Daly. Steve Allen was 78. Groucho Marx lived till 86.
What do we learn from this? The only explanation is that game show hosts live longer than normal people. Sure, there may be a few exceptions due to illness (Bert Convy & Allen Ludden) and suicide (Ray Combs), but it appears that game show hosts live longer than those not fortunate enough to stand on a stage at CBS Television City or the NBC studios in Burbank.
Now, this is no clinical study, but I have my own theories. From a psychological view, game show hosts play games for a living. It is still a job, but playing games is indeed fun. Most of us do it to have fun and relax, but to do it and get paid - hey that’s like you’re getting a salary to indulge in recreation - kinda like professional sports. And, don’t forget the laughter - game show hosts laugh a lot and, as some people say, laughter is the best medicine. (Although, if I have an infection, I’d just as soon forget the laughter and stick with the antibiotics).
From a medical point of view, game show hosts meet thousands more people than we do during the course of their lives. Now, I’m not a doctor, but I have visited the set of Scrubs, and met all of those TV doctors, so that makes me more than qualified to deduce that our every day encounters with people and their personal bacteria helps improve our resistance to disease. It stands to reason that since a game show host meets more people than the average individual, a host encounters more germs and hence, builds a higher resistance to disease.
Finally, we must examine the workload. Most non-emcee folks work five days - in excess of 40 hours - per week. Since the dawn of video tape in the 1960’s, game show hosts have been able to work one day to produce a full week of five shows. (Some hosts like Dick Clark would do more). A host could do a daytime and nighttime version of one show and host another and still only work three times a week. Now, I’m not diminishing the rigors of the job - one must be entertaining and charming, while making sure the game is played properly, but fewer work days mean fewer commutes, and fewer treks to the office mean less stress, and so forth. Also, fewer workdays mean more days for rest, golf, charity, reading, sex and all of those other things that make us feel good.
One last thing we must look at is vanity. Game show hosts must take care of themselves. The camera adds ten pounds (although you’d think that with technology, they could take them back off), and hosts tend to stay slender and in good general health. With the exception of Louie Anderson and the slightly portly Art Fleming, you don’t see a lot of overweight game show hosts.
So, Tom Bergeron, Howie Mandell, Todd Newton, you have long happy lives to look forward to. William Shatner, your recent game show credit may extend your already rich, long life.
Now, speaking of game show hosts, Gene Rayburn lived to the age of 81, and probably gained a few extra years from the laughs generated by the classic Match Game ‘73 and its subsequent numbered and non-numbered incarnations. Although these shows are 30 years old, they continue to be loved by fans on the Game Show Network (or GSN, as they want you to call it now).
BCI-Eclipse saw a good opportunity with a built-in fan base and decided to release a Best of The Match Game DVD set. The package consists of four discs filled with 30 episodes, and while there are a few bonus features, the unedited, unsped-up, uncredit-crunched episodes are the main attraction.
Here is the good news — the shows look great - with that bright CBS glow of tube cameras and 2″ quad video tape. And, the episodes are uncut, which means you can listen to the glorious voice of the one and only Johnny Olson as he plugs Turtle Wax, Rice-A-Roni and all of the other staples of seventies game show parting gifts. Also included (on the episodes containing them) are the original “Ticket Announcements,” which Johnny announced as the parts of the panelists and contestants’ faces were electronically mismatched to great comedic effect. Technically, there is one big problem with the set. The final episode on Disc 1 loses sync mid-way through, then recovers. We hear BCI is working on a fix.
More good stuff - the addition of the original 1963 pilot is a real treat. The black and white episode is also hosted by Gene Rayburn, but the very ordinary fill-in-the-blank questions allow no real opportunity for humor. It would be ten years until Dumb Dora and Old Man Periwinkle would rock the world.
While it is wonderful to see Brett Somers and hear her introduce the best moments, her segments were awkwardly produced, and could have been improved just by repositioning of the cue cards closer to the camera. She is looking offscreen the entire time, the way a person appears in an on-camera interview, rather than looking towards the camera as one should during an introduction.
Also slightly disappointing was the selection of episodes. I realize the challenge of choosing 30 episodes from a vast library of hundreds, but I think some of the selections could have been more interesting. We are given not one, but three episodes featuring Kirstie Alley as a contestant, at the expense of not seeing the show in which the entire cast of The Carol Burnett Show stops by unannounced and sits down and joins in a round. And, what about Burt Reynolds’ surprise drop-in? Oh, and there’s the time Charles was late to the set so Mark Goodson had to sit in. (Not to mention Johnny Olson’s day on the panel when Charles forgot to adjust his clock for daylight savings and missed showtime).
Don’t get me started on “Slide it” Earl, the stagehand - we should have seen his emergence from the door in the set. Richard Dawson’s arguments with producer Ira Skutch, and of course, each year, Match Game made a big production out of changing the year on their sign - not one of these episodes is included.
Maybe they’re saving this for volume 2.
One other draw-back, the “Best Moments” featurettes are culled from the episodes contained on the discs, and are not stand-alone compilations.
But, I must say, all of the episodes are enjoyable to watch, and a real treat to see. I would still recommend this DVD highly, (assuming the disc 1 technical glitch is fixed). Television fans will enjoy it, but big game show fans may be disappointed (they’ll buy it anyway). A wise DVD marketing person once told me that the best way to see a volume 2 or a season 2 of anything is to buy the first one. While BCI could have done a little better here, let’s try to encourage them to do volume 2. Go buy one (or more - they make great holiday gifts) and let’s look forward to additional volumes.
And speaking of more, here are a few unsolicited suggestions for volume 2:
Add some extra “mis-matched face” ticket announcements. These are a crowd pleaser - and something that can’t be seen on the 137 or so daily broadcasts of Match Game on the Game Show Network.
A few months back, for a short time, GSN included the show “slates” with Johnny reading the show number and tape date at the start of their “Match Game” telecasts. This would be a wonderful little bonus that would not cost anything.
An episode of the Match Game/Hollywood Squares hour might serve as a cautionary tale for the entire world.
The actual pilot for Match Game ‘73 should be located and released on volume 2. Now, I don’t want people to think I’m some kind of game show nerd (even though my current hobby is constructing game show sets out of Lego - see below for some work in progress photos of my Match Game ‘74 set), but the show presented as the pilot on this DVD is actually the first episode. The pilot was announced by Johnny as “The 1973 edition of Match Game” and the set’s sign did not carry a number. The contestants sat at one large desk, not individual podiums.
I would love to see a compilation of Gene’s entrances, and other fun moments. This might take some research, but there are plenty of people who can guide BCI in the right direction.
If this DVD does well, I encourage BCI to continue in the game genre. They recently announced a deal to release Price is Right and Family Feud DVD’s but I think the classic Hollywood Squares would be a more logical follow-up to Match Game. And, if the BCI folks read this, and they do manage to get the rights to the “Squares,” I invite them to check with me for some ideas on how to select the episodes. Let’s see, there should be one whole disc of “Storybook Squares…” and don’t forget the one-hour specials…
This edition of Oooooh Shiny has been a Mark Goodson-Bill Todman-Merrill Heatter-Bob Quigley-Stefan Hatos-Monty Hall Production.
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