Saturday, July 11, 2015

Matchlessly Funny

Like several game shows of its era, Match Game flourished largely on the strength of its celebrity panel. When that group was carefully chosen, and working at full steam, the show was lively, spontaneous fun. Although the game was billed by announcer Johnny Olson as "star-studded," fame outside the daytime TV arena wasn't necessarily the key to success as a panelist.

One of Match Game's biggest draws was an actress and singer who was, before the show caught on, a pretty minor celebrity at best. Brett Somers (1924-2007), born 91 years ago today, was initially booked at the suggestion of her longtime husband, television star Jack Klugman. After cracking wise about his wife on early Match Game episodes, he suggested to producers that they bring her on for a week, so that she could have a chance to reply. That week-long booking turned into a nine-year gig, amusing audiences with the playful bickering between her and Charles Nelson Reilly.

Somers exhibited a great sense of humor about herself and her work, as shown in one of my all-time favorite exchanges on that show. The question, as read by host Gene Rayburn, began: "Sally had the most useless job in the world..." Before he could get any farther, Brett cut in with her weary reply, "No, she didn't."

You're missed, Miss Somers.

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