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Hollywood Squares (1965)

Producer: Heatter/Quigley
Host: Bert Parks
Announcer: Kenny Williams
Celebrities: Robert Q. Lewis, Vera Miles, Abby Dalton, Gisèle MacKenzie, Jim Backus, Wally Cox, Rosemarie, Cliff Arquette (as Charley Weaver), Morey Amsterdam
Taping Info: early 1965, CBS Television City, Hollywood, CA
Made it to Air: Yes. It replaced Showdown on October 17, 1966 and stuck around the NBC lineup in various time slots until June 20, 1980, when it became one of the three game shows sacrificed for David Letterman's daytime show. It also had a network prime-time run in 1968, a twice-a-week syndicated run from 1971 through 1980, and five-a-week runs in the 1980-81 season, 1986-1989 and from 1998-2004.
Other Pilots: Yes, a pilot shot in 1985 that became the 1986-89 syndicated run is also on the trading circuit. There is also a rumored pilot with Sandy Baron shot after this one, but its existence is doubtful.
Availability: It is available on the trading circuit.

When you think of the host of Hollywood Squares, who do you think of? Peter Marshall? Tom Bergeron? John Davidson? Well, it could have been Sandy Baron, who played Jack Klompus, the scheming resident of Del Boca Vista Estates on Seinfeld. It also could have been Dan Rowan of Laugh-In. Or, it could have been the first choice of the producers, Miss America Pageant mainstay Bert Parks. A pilot was shot in 1965 for its potential inclusion on the CBS prime-time lineup.

Game play was identical to the regular show, so there's real no reason to go into it here. Contestants were already giving zingers, there was byplay between the contestants and the ubiquitous, mellifluous tones of Kenny Williams. The only problem here was Bert Parks. For a light, celebrity-based show, he was terrible. Every square won or lost could have been the end of the world as he definitely could not turn off the melodrama machine embedded deep in his body. Plus, he seemed either indifferent or clueless to the humor being offered by the celebrities.

By watching this, it became painfully obvious why CBS went with Bob Stewart's The Face is Familiar over this show. The pacing was too slow and Bert Parks was a difficult pill to swallow. After the year-long option on this pilot lapsed, it was shopped around to the other networks, and the daytime department at NBC bit on the condition that they get a different host. Peter Marshall was found and the rest is history.

Wally Cox


Morey Amsterdam

Abby Dalton

Jim Backus

Gisèle MacKenzie

Charley Weaver

Vera Miles

Robert Q. Lewis

The familiar opening

The master of melodrama

The contestant podium (with the X and O reversed)

A CBS? Production

This pilot has been viewed 5624 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
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