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Who Do You Trust?

Before becoming the King of Late Night, Johnny Carson was the emcee of the daytime game show Who Do You Trust?  Partway through its run from 1957 to 1962 Ed McMahon replaced the announcer.  Yes, Johnny and Ed were together for a long time.

Johnny Carson: How we miss you. Photo by: Alan Light

Amazingly, Johnny had already perfected his shtick for which he was so popular for decades.  In his opening monologue and, yes, he had an opening monologue, he told jokes and imparted observations, relaxed and casual, as if he had been in front of a studio audience his whole life.

One day after explaining he had gotten a haircut earlier, and that was why he was twitching and jerking, he noted, “Something just occurred to me.  When one barber gets a haircut by another barber, who does the talking?”  Ed got a big chuckle from that.

Johnny also liked spending time with the contestants.  One guest, a firefighter describing a blaze at a bra factory, asked him, “And you know what the smell was, Johnny? Burnt rubber.”  Without losing a beat, our favorite host replied, “Sort of a falsie alarm?”  Ed liked that one, too.

Like Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life, Carson seemed to prefer interviewing the participants than quizzing them.   On many occasions he’d ask his guests to demonstrate their unique talents or hobbies, always serving as their guinea pig in good cheer.  This resulted in his being chased off the stage by a saber-brandishing fencing instructor, diving into a tank of water in full scuba gear, and crashing into a wall driving a miniature racecar.

First airing on CBS, the program was originally called Do You Trust Your Wife?   When it moved to another station, ABC  changed the title, but the concept was the same.  Three couples participated on each episode.  When it was time to compete, the husband was given a category and asked to decide whether he or his wife would answer the question.

Watching YouTube clips, the husband usually took it upon himself to answer the question, not trusting his wife, or does it only seem that way?

At least on The Newlywed Game that premiered in 1966, the husband and wife took turns responding to questions about each other.  This led to many arguments over incorrect answers and even some divorces, which is probably why the show was so popular.  Was the prize of their choosing – washers and dryers, bedroom sets, dining room table and chairs, home entertainment systems, you name it – really worth it?

But this begs the question, who do you trust?


© 2011 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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