December 9, 2015

A Christmas Classic: Miracle on 34th Street meets What's My Line?


What’s My Line? Mystery Guest Segment, December 16, 1956
Host: John Daly
Panelists: Arlene Francis, Robert Q. Lewis, Dorothy Kilgallen, Bennett Cerf

John Daly: And now we come to the special feature of our program, the api>pearance of our mystery celebrity, for which as always the panel has been blindfolded. Blindfolds in place, panel? (Cut to panel wearing blindfolds) Good. Will you enter, mystery challenger, and sign in please.

(Applause and cheers from audience as camera shows signature being written on blackboard: Frederick Gailey, Esq.  Fred and John shake hands and Fred sits next to him at the desk)

John: All right panel, as you know, in the case of our mystery guest, we go to a different form of questioning – one question at a time, in turn, moving clockwise and we'll start with Arlene Francis.

Arlene Francis: Well, that certainly was a rousing ovation. I’m wondering if this means our Mystery Guest is a star of stage, screen or picture?

Fred: (in falsetto) Well, I try to be entertaining. (laughter)

Arlene: Is that a yes or a no, John?

John: Arlene, I think to be fair I’ll have to give you a no on that – while this is not to say that our guest can be and at times has been entertaining, I think we would agree that it is not a primary aspect of our guest’s occupation. One down, nine to go. Mr. Cerf?

Bennett Cerf: If you’re not in the entertainment business, are you possibly from the world of sports?

Fred: (in falsetto, teasingly) Oh, I'm very athletic, Mr. Cerf. (laughter)

John: (laughing) Actually, I'm going to answer that no, Bennett, That’s two down, eight to go. Miss Kilgallen?

Dorothy Kilgallen: Is it possible we might have seen your picture in the newspaper recently, or at least from time to time?

Fred: (in falsetto) Probably.

John: Yes, I would think that’s fair. Robert Q. Lewis?

Robert Q. Lewis: You’re not in entertainment and you’re not in sports, which means you’re probably either an international playboy or a government official, although I suppose either one of those could be sporting. (laughter) I’ll pick one – are you Aristotle Onassis?  (laughter)

Fred: (falsetto)  No, I'm not.

John:  Three down, seven to go.  Arlene?

Arlene:  Well, then, are you with the government?

Fred: (in falsetto) I wouldn't say that, no.

John: I would add, Arlene, that while there may be a tangential relationship with certain aspects of the government, our guest is not a government employee. That makes it four down and six to go. Bennett?

Bennett: John, have we determined whether or not our guest is female?

John: Bennett, are you asking our guest that question?

Fred: (indignantly, using deep voice) I object to that question, Mr. Cerf! (laughter)

John: That’s your answer, Bennett. (laughter)  Five down, five to go. Miss Kilgallen?

Dorothy: (frowning) Oh dear, I feel like I should know you. Have we ever sat down for an interview?

Fred: Maybe once or twice.

John: Mr. Lewis.

Robert: Well, considering the time of year and the propensity you have to play tricks on us, John -

John:  Tricks?  Me?  Never!  (laughter)

Robert:  As I was saying, considering the time of year, I'm going to take a wild guess. Do you play Santa Claus at Macy’s? (Huge roar of laughter from audience)

Fred: No, I’m the other guy. (Laughter)

Arlene: Oh!

John: Something wrong, Arlene?

Arlene: You’re not Macy’s Santa Claus, but do you by any chance know Santa Claus? And are you responsible for making sure he’s not staying at Bellevue? And have you gone on to great fame and success in the legal field? (Laughter and applause)

Fred: (in regular voice) OK, I’ll plead guilty.

Arlene: You’re Fred Gailey!

John: You've got it, Arlene! (Applause from audience as panelists remove their blindfolds)

John: Fred and I get together and bend an elbow occasionally with Toots Shor. It’s always good to see you, Fred.

Fred: Likewise , John.

John: And even though it’s been a few years now, I still think of this as being your time of the year, and I imagine maybe you can’t hear “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” without sparking a memory or two. I know Dorothy covered the Kringle trial back then, when it was such a sensation.

Fred: And John, Dorothy not only covered it, but she was one of the newspaper writers who helped me get the publicity for the case in the first place.

John: And we know how important that was.

Dorothy: John, if I may, I'd just like to say that I was impressed with Fred from the very beginning of that case, and I’m not surprised that he’s gone on to such success in the legal arena. (applause)

John: Dorothy, I think we can all second that. (To Fred) I know you've been taking some time off from law books lately, and you've been looking at television scripts instead.

Fred: Well, John, a few years after the success of the movie there were some discussions about possibly making a weekly series, and now we’re finally in development, here on CBS, for a show about a lawyer fighting for the rights of the disadvantaged, and we’re pretty excited about that.

John: And I understand they might be talking with our good friend Ray Burr about playing you?

Fred: They did approach Ray, and I think they’re still tying up some loose ends, but it looks good.

John: And we can expect to see the new series when?

Fred: Probably next fall.

Bennett: John, I’d just like to ask Fred, the next time he talks with Kris, to make sure he tells him to bring that coal when he slides down your chimney!

John: Now, Bennett! After that remark if anyone deserves coal it’s you! (laughter)

Fred: John, I’d just like to add that I’d like to donate my winnings from tonight to my friend Fr. Chuck O'Malley and the work he does with underprivileged boys and girls here in New York City.

John: (Flipping all the cards over) And we might even throw in a bit extra. Well, Merry Christmas, Fred, it's been good fun, and thanks for being with us tonight on What’s My Line.

Fred: Thanks, John, and Merry Christmas to you as well.

(The audience applauds. Fred gets up and shakes hands with John and the rest of the panel as he leaves.)


Originally published December 11, 2012

2 comments:

  1. You had me fooled here for a bit, especially since Dec. 16, 1956 actually fell on a Sunday and What's My Line aired that night. Here's a link to who was on the show that night: http://www.tv.com/shows/whats-my-line/episode-341-95492/

    Who was "Fred Gailey" there? He looks a bit like an older Bobby Darin.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Really well done pastiche-- I've linked to it in the WML Facebook group! How did I not see this last year? :)

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Thanks for writing! Drive safely!