What’s My Line? Brought Classical Musicians To TV

Whats My Line television panel from 1952.(Photo: Wikipedia Commons)
Whats My Line television panel from 1952.(Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Those of us of a certain age remember the popular game show What’s My Line. The panel tried to discover a contestant’s unusual profession. Later they would don masks and try to identify a “mystery guest.”

What’s My Line began on the Dumont Network in the 1950s, and no, I didn’t see it then. I do remember the “in color” resurrection of the show from the late 1960s.

Hard to believe today, but 50 years ago it was not unusual to see classical musicians on all kinds of TV programs. What’s My Line was no exception.

If this were a different kind of blog, I could include Jane Russell, Ted Williams, Eleanor Roosevelt, the inventor of the shower curtain and the nudist camp manager.

Here are some very popular classical stars trying to fool the panel.  Note the 1950s sponsor Geritol. If you’ve never heard of Geritol, this post may not be for you. Proceed anyway.

An operatic basso who became a huge Broadway and movie star late in his career. He starred with Mary Martin in South Pacific:

This is a wunderkind who lived to old age before passing away in 1990. At the time of his appearance, he was the hottest name in the business.

This lady became an icon. She gave a concert on the National Mall in Washington DC on Easter Sunday, 1939, at the behest of Eleanor Roosevelt,after being denied the use of Constitution Hall.

And here’s my favorite. This was not a mystery guest. He’s a young man newly arrived in this country to make a career in music.

And if you want to know about the nudist camps or Tallulah Bankhead, call me up on the phone.

  • Michael

    Love the show. Game Show Network used to show it in the middle of the night; perfect for the DVR. They still break a few out once in a while. I do remember the Van Cliburn one.

  • Matthew B. Tepper

    Van Cliburn died earlier this year (2013), not in 1990.