Monday, January 26, 2009


Before the fast and facile Gene Rayburn ever revealed to a Match Game contestant that "Dora was SO dumb," or had to referee between bawdy panelists Brett Somers Klugman and Charles Nelson Reilly, on CBS-TV in the 1970's, the durable game show,it's venerable announcer, Johnny Olson, and it's genial host, Rayburn, had a whole other, successful run on NBC daytime between 1962 and 1969.

The engaging, almost addictive,show, created by Frank Wayne and produced by game show titans,Mark Goodson Bill Todman, was a powerful anchor to the late afternoon schedule on the peacock network for seven years, The first series is almost primitive in production values compared to the 1970's, sequined, Disco-synth version of the show, but , the original format is sleek in its unadorned elegance. The concept of the game ,itself, is timeless.

Rayburn( far left) had been best known , up to that point, as the announcer/sidekick on Steve Allen's original and innovative,Tonight Show on NBC-TV. He was also one of the many talented performers to host Monitor on NBC Radio, a wide-ranging, magazine format series, that was designed by NBC's resident genius Pat Weaver, and is believed to have extended the life span of network radio by over a decade. Rayburn also had great success performing in dinner theater and on Broadway.

Johnny Olson divided his time ,attention, and Eastern Airlines,frequent-flyer miles, during these years, between taping the Match Game at NBC in NYC and announcing Jackie Gleason's, Miami -based, Saturday night, comedy /variety series,airing on CBS-TV.

The Match Game was videotaped at 30 Rock in New York City, and while the clip below is an excerpt of a black and white kinescope, the program was produced in Living Color.

Here , from Adam Nadeff's You Tube site, is a sentimental sojourn to daytime fun and games, mid-sixties style. Enjoy!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. And the theme? "Swingin Safari" Written and recorded by German bandleader and instrumentalist Bert Kaemfert in 1962. It was this version that was used as the theme for "The Match Game" thru its first incarnation.
    US Bandleader Bill Vaughn also recorded the song in 1962, and that song became the better known version of the two, reaching #13 on the Billboard Top 100 that year.
    FYI - the song has also been used in a recent series of spots for ING Direct Investments.
    Jonathan - Washington, DC