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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Remembering Hollywood Squares

Paul Lynde occupied the center square on Hollywood Squares

There was a popular 30 minute show on TV from 1966 to 1981 called Hollywood Squares. In that show various stars of show business would sit in blocks set up like a tac-tac-toe game (See illustration above). Two contestants would play against each other and try to answer the questions being asked of the stars by moderator Peter Marshall. When one of them won the game, they received various prizes.

It was a simple show which usually aired in the evenings before prime time, usually at about 6:30 in most markets. It was fun to eat off a TV tray if front of the Magnavox, and get some laughs from the guest stars in the blocks. As Marshall asked them the questions, they would usually give a "zinger" answer which produced a lot of laughs from the studio audience even though it was usually scripted. If you liked double entendres, this was the show for you. After the laughs, the star would answer in a serious tone and the contestants would have to figure if they were being put on or not.

The game was secondary to the comedy generated by the stars and there were some good ones from that era. Actor and comedian Paul Lynde was the star of the show but there was also comedians George Gobel, Charley Weaver, Wally Cox, Don Knotts, and many others.

Unless you are a certain age, you are probably scratching your head now thinking Paul Lynde? George Gobel? Charley Weaver? Who the hell are they?

For the rest of you, the thought of Hollywood Squares probably brings back some fun memories from the 70s.

Here are a few of the zingers some of the stars dealt out. The questions were asked by Peter Marshall:

Question: What is a good reason for pounding meat?

Answer: (Paul Lynde) "Loneliness!" (That answer brought so much laughter that it took up 15 minutes of the of the show)

Q. True or false, a pea can last up to 5,000 years.

A. (George Gobel) "Boy, it sure seems that way sometimes."

Q. You’ve been having trouble going to sleep. Are you a man or a woman?

A. (Don Knotts) "That’s what’s been keeping me awake."

Q. In Hawaiian, does it take more than three words to say "I love you?"

A. (Vincent Price) "No, you can say it with a pineapple and a twenty."

The original Hollywood Squares had a nice run from 1966 through 1981. Many of the stars of the show are dead now but will be remembered for their great lines, especially Paul Lynde. There were some syndicated versions later but they never could capture the magic of the original show.

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