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Head of the Class


Producer: Unknown
Host: Gene Rayburn
Musicians: Marilyn Lovell, The Noteworthies, Elliot Lawrence and His Orchestra
Announcer: Dick Dudley
Taping Info: 1960 presumably in New York, NY
Made it to Air: It was scheduled to appear on June 24, 1960 on NBC and appears in TV listings for that date. However, it was pulled in favor of reruns of Cimarron and Wichita Town
Availability: It is available at the UCLA archive.

There's a big problem with this pilot. Mainly, it's missing the ending. So we have no idea who the producer of this show was, thwarting our ability to figure out if this is Goodson-Todman trying to think of a new direction for the panel show or if this was a creation of another company. Like I've Got a Secret, this one was played strictly for laughs. Gene Rayburn was the host and featured contributions from Marilyn Lovell (still on the cabaret circuit), The Noteworthies (disappeared off the face of the earth) and Elliot Lawrence and His Orchestra.

Four contestants would watch a skit and try to remember elements of it, since it would be the basis of later questions. After the skit, one player is designated "head of the class" and would be given a question. After the player gave their answer, another player either agreed with the answer or challenged it. If the first answer given was correct, the "head of the class" got $50 and the agreer $10. If the first answer was wrong and the challenge answer was correct, that player got $10 and became "head of the class". Each skit had six questions, and a player got a bonus prize if they got all six questions in a round.

The first skit involved Gene and the Noteworthies reminiscing about his hometown of Chicago. The second one was a murder mystery involving Marilyn Lovell and Gene, while the third one was questions based off a clip of the 1924 Will Rogers movie Underdog (although there is no reference of this movie anywhere). The fourth skit, however, was the best. A parody of the panel show called What's So Special?, it featured "Jim Weekly" who had the habit of long-winded explanations on the ruling of a yes or no question. This wouldn't have been a problem, if the secret wasn't Gene holding his breath.

The show was pretty silly, which was probably one of the reasons it didn't make it to air. The other was probably the incredibly confusing way the question round was played, a simple straight quiz probably would have been better. It was scheduled to be a summer series for 1960 on NBC Friday Nights, paired with Play Your Hunch and was even listed for a June 24 premiere. However, the week before, NBC changed course and announced that the Friday night lineup would consist of reruns of Cimarron and Wichita Town.


A listing from the June 18-24, 1960 Eastern Washington edition of TV Guide stating the premiere of Head of the Class. It never happened.


This pilot has been viewed 5122 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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