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I’ve Got a Secret

June 18, 2017

I’ve Got a Secret premiered on CBS television on this date in 1952. Created by Allan Sherman for the production team of Mark Goodson and Bill Todman, the quiz show ran until April 3, 1967 and was hosted for most of those years by Garry Moore (Steve Allen took over in 1964). A panel of four minor celebrities (usually some combination of Bill Cullen, Betsy Palmer, Henry Morgan, Faye Emerson, Jayne Meadows, and Bess Myerson) would try to guess the “secret” of contestants (usually something embarrassing, unusual, or amazing) in the course of three sessions per show. Each panelist had two rounds in which to question the contestant; each round that passed without the secret disclosed won the contestant $10, for a top prize of $80. Usually, a skit or demonstration of the secret followed each disclosure. Contestants included drummer Peter Best (“I used to play with the Beatles”); a 95-year-old man who was the last surviving eyewitness to Abraham Lincoln’s assassination; Bobby Fischer as a 15-year-old chess champion; and Ray Kurzweil as a 17-year-old inventor. To see an episode from 1960, look below. To see Pete Best on the show, look below that.

I’ve Got a Secret debuted on the heels of the successful What’s My Line? Though Secret had somewhat similar rules, there were other elements that gave the show its own distinctive flavor. . . . Like What’s My Line, Secret had millions of faithful viewers during its CBS run, and spawned a number of revivals (including a weekly syndicated series in 1972.”—