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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Telling You The Truth.

I haven't received any more DVDs from the West Coast yet to do any more Report Cards, so in the interim I'm going to attempt to regale you with a very timely story.
It's one in which I am at the same time tangentially and intrinsically involved.
I get this cable channel here called Buzzr.
It's all old game shows.
Some really old.
Like black-and-white old.
The original "What's My Line?" "To Tell The Truth" and I've Got A Secret".
I loved and love those shows and Tivo them regularly.
In the 90's, the Game Show Network used to do the same thing.
And I saw all of them.
But so much time has passed that I don't remember any individual episode.

Allow me to digress here.
I have a friend, Barry, who has a friend who had claimed that in 1961, he and his parents all appeared on "To Tell The Truth" in one episode, each as liars in each of the three games. The friend was about ten years old at the time.
This seemed to be the kind of stunt casting that "To Tell The Truth" never indulged in.
He was met with at least mock skepticism by his friends.
This was roughly akin to my claiming that I played Rusty B Company on "Rin-Tin-Tin"
But I knew I was lying, and nobody believed me either.
However, he was obsessive about it to the point that his friends started to believe him.
He had conducted a fruitless 35 year old search to track down this episode, all the more difficult because it aired live.
Barry had told me about this quest some time in the 80s and it stuck with me.
Then, in the 90s, when the Game Show Network was airing "To Tell The Truth", I saw what I thought was this episode.
I called Barry and asked "Was this family named "Elder"?
It was.
I mailed Barry the VHS tape. That was what we were dealing with then.
On young Elder's birthday, they threw him a party at his home.
No mention of the tape.
Barry without warning, popped this tape into young Elder's VCR.
Young Elder was now in his early fifties.
The show started, Young Elder saw his father, long since passed away, on the show.
He immediately broke down into uncontrollable tears.
In the second game, he saw his mother, also long since gone.
He was mush.
Then he saw himself in the third game.
After regaining his composure, he asked how the tape was found.
My name was then bandied about.
Young Elder was then the City Manager of Worthington, Ohio. A suburb of Columbus.
I was offered the key to the city, which was worthless because it didn't open anything.
But if I ever wanted a slave, he volunteered to be mine.
I didn't really want a slave, but I appreciated the gesture.
I apparently not only made his day, I made his life.
The reason this is timely now is that just yesterday, Buzzr reran that episode of "To Tell The Truth", and reminded me of how much I contributed to somebody's happiness.
I don't get to do that too often.


My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
They are all compilations of blog entries that have since been removed from the blog.
So this is the only way you can find them.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at

And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.


  1. I've only just discovered Buzzr, which is not carried by my cable provider; I have to get it on the digital broadcast channel (50.4).
    They're running To Tell The Truth, What's My Line?, and I've Got A Secret, in that order, from 1 to 3 am central time. Each show is 40 minutes long, because all the shows include the original commercials (over and above the spots Buzzr can sell for today).

    One thing I wish Buzzr would do would be to include the original broadcast dates on the various episodes.
    The current To Tell The Truths are from circa 1961 or 62; Johnny Carson is on the panel in many of these, before NBC made him exclusive.
    The What's My Lines come the mid '50s, when Fred Allen was on the panel. It's good to see him (and regrettable that these are practically all that's left of him on video); Goodson and Todman were still working some of the kinks out of the format, and John Daly's attempts to be funny can be wince-inducing.
    The I've Got A Secrets are back in the early '60s, when Garry Moore and Henry Morgan stopped wearing bow ties.
    Buzzr is following some sort of pattern in their scheduling, but damned if I can figure what it is.

    In 1991, my cousin Judy Petrucchi appeared on To Tell The Truth with two impostors.
    Judy ran for mayor of the suburb she lived in, in order to prevent a strip club from moving into town.
    This was the second game on the show; the first game featured the owner of a successful nudist camp.
    This gentleman's wife was one of Cousin Judy's impostors.
    Everybody had a good laugh over this.
    Oh, and one of the panelists that week was Polly Bergen, making a return appearance some 35 years after her regular Truth stint.
    (Actually, she'd made numerous Truth appearances over the years after she'd left, usually when Kitty Carlisle was on vacation.)
    I know I taped this show and I'm sure I still have the tape somewhere.
    All I need is a working VCR to play it on ...

    1. What annoys me about the What's My Line shows is they seem to have been on more than once since I first heard of this channel (maybe from Mark Evanier?) & I keep watching hoping for 'new to me episodes'. As for I've Got A Secret I still remember an episode where a group of men had names as follows: Winston Tase Good Lika C.Garret Shultz. Don't hold me to the correct spelling. I remember watching I've Got A Secret & To Tell The Truth but maybe not What's My Line maybe because I had to be in bed Sunday night before school Monday in the mid 50s.

  2. Fred Allen and Henry Morgan were my favorites, and they haven't shown any "I've Got A Secret"s when they had cigarette sponsors..
    And they have way too many repeats of the same episodes on Buzzr..

    1. It looks like Buzzr is trying to avoid cigarette commercials in its reruns, for whatever reasons of "propriety".
      But there's Garry Moore in the Secret shows, never without a smoldering gasper in his hand.

      Who are they trying to kid?
      In the '50s and '60s, people smoked.
      My mother was two packs a day, maybe more.
      My father would start and stop at will, which drove Mom crazy.
      Mom outlived Dad by ten years, on oxygen the whole time.
      And out of the four kids, the only one who took up smoking was my sister Pat - the registered nurse.

      One of the joys of bootleg tapes/DVDs is seeing original cigarette ads done by series stars.
      Somewhere on my wall is John Cassevetes, when he was doing Staccato, waxing romantic as he watches a young couple in a rowboat, enjoying their Salems ("Take a puff - it's springtime!").
      Not to mention Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble lighting up their animated Winstons.
      Or the ghosts on Topper enjoying ectoplasmic drags on their Camels (while announcing the veterans hospitals that are getting gift cartons that week).

      By now, we must have a few generations that have never seen cigarette advertising, at least on TV.
      What are they making of those black-and-white people sticking those things in their mouths and setting them on fire?
      "The times, they are a-changin' ..."
      ... but I wish they'd take a breather (excuse the expression).

    2. You can match that feeling and bring me much happiness. Send me a pile of crisp 20s, 50s and 100s.
      I'd love to bring that kind of joy to your life.

  3. That’s really a great story, Mark, and thanks for sharing it. What a memorable experience for this kid and his family to have participated in this show so long ago, and you brought it all back for him! I loved those shows like What’s My Line, I’ve Got a Secret and To Tell the Truth. They always featured people with fascinating human interest stories to tell. John Daly, Garry Moore, and Bud Collyer each possessed a special flair in presenting those shows, and the panelists mixed being savvy and funny in taking on the mental challenges of the respective games. The producers must have had to scramble to find such interesting guests, and on To Tell The Truth, they also had to find 6 people for each show who were smart enough to convincingly pose as somebody whom they were not. It must have been difficult and expensive to pull it all together weekly or even daily, and thus we have nothing like it on the air anymore. Those shows were great while they lasted, and it’s nice that some of the networks and internet services still show them. And finally, Mark, you’re no slouch when it comes to bringing happiness to people. This was certainly an outstanding example, but you wrote a lot of funny TV shows that made us laugh, and you’re still regaling us with great stories like this one on your blog. Keep it flowing!

  4. This is off-topic ...

    Today I got the damnedest Email from Macchus999.

    Something about someone named 'vicki' and something called 'fat-burner'.

    There was a lead line, some kind of apology (though I can't think for what), but when I rang it up, there was 'vicki' and the fat-burner.

    Apparently, your confuser ( a term from Uncle Bobby Collins, who was the big guy in morning drive radio here for years) -
    - anyway, your confuser is as glitch-prone as my own; for all I know, I wasn't even supposed to get the apology.
    Whatever, my curiosity is piqued.
    Not to the point of urgency, but I'd kinda like to know.
    All the best.

  5. Replies
    1. Read you loud and clear, Mark.

      Isn't technology wonderful?

      (Yes, it isn't.)

  6. You might be eligible to get a Apple iPhone 7.

  7. There's a chance you're qualified to get a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."