radio and television game shows have their origin in parlour games
and it is no surprise to realise that I've Got A Secret was
based on the game of "Secret, secret,who's got the secret". The
format was simple but very durable. Sitting together on one side
of a plain, unadorned set, each of four panelists took a 30-second
turn questioning and then guessing a contestant's secret. The contestants
were a mixture of ordinary people and celebrities and the panellists
were invariably celebrities. Each episode used four contestants
and, in the American original, one contestant in each episode was
a celebrity. Ordinary contestants received a small money prize if
they stumped the panel. In the case of the celebrity contestant,
the secret was very often related to some element of their fame.
Thus the first episode of Secret in 1952 featured the actor Boris
Karloff's revelation was that he was afraid of mice.
U.S. version of the program was the longest running and most popular
game show in the history of the genre. It began in June 1952 and
ran on the CBS network until 1967. However it was not quite an overnight
success. The premiere episode used a courtroom as the set. Host
Garry Moore was pesented as a judge, the contestants as witnesses
under cross-examination, and the panellists as the questioning lawyers.
CBS cancelled the program after its first season but almost immediately
changed its mind and the program resumed after its summer break.
Secret became enormously popular and ran for 15 years on network
television, a record never equalled by another game show. By the
late 1950s it was consistently in the top ten of U.S. television
programs; it survived the quiz scandals of 1958-59; its popularity
remained intact through the first part of the 1960s. The program
was revived for syndication from 1972 to 1973 and also played a
short summer stint on CBS in 1976.
Got A Secret had three hosts in its time on U.S. television--Garry
Moore, Steve Allen, and Bill Cullen. Cullen, a long-time panellist
was made famous by the program, but many other panellists were already
well-known. Among them were Laraine Day, Orson Bean, Henry Morgan,
Jayne Meadows, Faye Emerson and Betsy Palmer. Secret featured
several producers including Allan Sherman who was to have his own
career in the early 1960s as a comic singer cum satirist.
The program was originated and produced by the inimitable Mark Goodson
and Bill Todman. Their partnership in developing successful game
show formats had begun in radio in 1946 and I've Got A Secret
was one of their earliest programs in television.
Garry Moore (1952-1964)
Steve Allen (1964-1967)
Bill Cullen (1976)
Laura Hobson (1952)
Walter Kiernan (1952)
Orson Bean (1952)
Melville Cooper (1952)
Bill Cullen (1952-1967)
Kity Carlisle (1952-1953)
Henry Morgan (1952-1976)
Laraine Day (1952)
Eddie Bracken (1952)
Faye Emerson (1952-1958)
Jayne Meadows (1952-1959)
Betsy Palmer (1957-1967)
Bess Myerson (1958-1967)
Pat Collins (1976)
Richard Dawson (1976)
Elaine Joyce (1976)
PRODUCERS Mark Goodson, Bill Todman, Allan Sherman
June 1952-June 1953 Thursday
10:30-11:00 July 1953-September 1961 Wednesday
9:30-10:00 September 1961-September 1962 Monday 10:30-11:00 September
1962-September 1966 Monday 8:00-8:30 September
1966-April 1967 Monday
10:30-11:00 June 1976-July 1976 Tuesday
Norman. The TV Game Shows. New York: Pyramid, 1975.
Fabe, M. TV Game Shows. Garden City, New York: Doubleday,
J. Come on Down!!!: The TV Game Show Book. New York: Abbeville
D., S. Ryan, and F. Wostbrock, The Encyclopedia of Television
Game Shows. New York: Zoetrope, 1987.
and Game Shows