Moore, genial host of numerous successful network television programs
throughout the 1950s and 1960s was a major influence on the early
acceptance of the medium among American viewers. During his long-running
broadcast career Moore appeared regularly during prime time hours
and different time periods. Like Arthur Godfrey, Moore hosted prominent
daytime and weekly evening shows which contributed to his immense
popularity. His programs were frequently among the top-ten list
of highly rated prime time programs. As a comedian Garry Moore combined
genial humor with a pleasant personality and relaxed style that
made him a favorite with audiences.
originally worked as a network radio comedian and writer known by
his real name, Thomas Garrison Morfit. Because Morfit was difficult
to pronounce, an on-air contest to select a stage name was conducted.
Beginning in 1940 he became known to the listening audience as Garry
1949 CBS Radio originated the Garry Moore Show, a daily one
hour variety program produced in Hollywood. Network programmers
recognized a successful radio personality in Moore, and given their
need for programming talent on its young television network, CBS
provided the opportunity for Moore to host a variety television
show in New York. When the Garry Moore Show was introduced
on CBS daytime television in 1950 Moore established a distinctive
on-air identity with his crew cut hair and bowtie image. His physical
appearance enhanced his casual demeanor and easy going conversational
style that became familiar to home viewers.
initial telecasts followed a somewhat checkerboard scheduling pattern.
Beginning as a 30-minute evening series, the live Monday-through-Friday
Garry Moore Show made its television debut in June 1950.
By August the program changed to one night weekly and expanded to
an hour in length. For its fall 1950 lineup CBS scheduled Moore
weekday afternoons, a move that lasted eight years. By 1951 the
Garry Moore Show reportedly was the second largest revenue
source for CBS and for a time the network could not accommodate
potential sponsors awaiting the opportunity to advertise on the
daytime program format was flexible but generally included humorous
skits, singing, monologues, and studio audience interaction. Regular
performers were featured along with special guests. Supporting Moore
with the various program segments were singers Denise Lor and Ken
Carson, and announcer and sidekick Durward Kirby. Guest comedians
Don Adams, George Gobel, Carol Burnett, Don Knotts, and Jonathan
Winters made their earliest television appearances on Moore's show,
contributing to the entertaining tone and boosting their individual
careers. The Garry Moore Show remained on air until mid-1958
when Moore voluntarily relinquished his hosting duties due to the
exhaustive work schedule. By the 1958 fall season Moore returned
to CBS, hosting a weekly evening program, again called the Garry
hour-long evening series followed a format similar to Moore's daytime
variety program. During its six-year run. the Garry Moore Show
introduced comedienne Carol Burnett who later starred in her own
successful CBS show during the 1960s and 1970s. Other comedic and
musical talents regularly appearing on the Moore nighttime variety
show Included Durward Kirby, Marion Lorne, and Dorothy Loudon. Allen
Funt's "Candid Camera" became a regular segment on the program.
Another popular weekly feature was a lengthy nostalgia segment known
as "That Wonderful Year." Given the grueling work required to produce
the show, Moore decided to discontinue the program in 1964. Moore
reappeared in 1966 as host of yet another weekly Garry Moore
Show variety series, but after five months of competition with
Bonanza, CBS canceled the show due to poor ratings.
addition to hosting several variety shows, Garry Moore moderated
two television panel quiz programs, I've Got a Secret and
To Tell the Truth. He began a 12 year reign as moderator
of Goodson-Todman Productions I've Got a Secret, in 1952.
This popular CBS prime time program featured celebrity panelists
who tried to guess the secret of ordinary and celebrity contestants.
Panel members appearing through the years included Bill Cullen,
Jayne Meadows, Henry Morgan, Faye Emerson, and Betsy Palmer.
I've Got a Secret was among the A.C. Nielsen Top 20 television
programs for seven years. It remained one of the most popular panel
programs ever on television. Goodson-Todman sold I've Got a Secret
to CBS and Garry Moore in 1959, and he continued to moderate
the show until 1964.
Tell the Truth, also from Goodson-Todman, had been moderated
for a decade by Bud Collyer. It was taken over by Garry Moore when
the program went into syndication In 1969. Another half-hour celebrity
panel show, the object of To Tell the Truth was to determine
which of three contestants was telling the truth. Regular panelists
included Orson Bean, Bill Cullen, Kitty Carlisle, and Peggy Cass.
Moore left the program and television for good in 1977 when he developed
throat cancer. The wit, charm and personality so much a part of
Garry Moore, influenced numerous television hosts both during and
following his long career. He died from emphysema in 1993 at age
MOORE. Born Thomas Garrison Morfit, in Baltimore, Maryland,
U.S.A., 31 January 1915. Married: 1) Eleanor Borum Little, 1939
(died 1974), children: John Mason Morfit, Thomas Garrison Morfit;
2) Mary Elizabeth De Chant, 1975. Writer and actor at radio station
WBAL in Baltimore, 1935-38; news announcer and sports commentator,
radio station KWK in St. Louis, 1939; star and writer, NBC Blue
Network's Club Matinee, 1939-43; New York emcee, NBC's Everything
Goes, 1942; co-star and writer, Jimmy Durante-Garry Moore
Show, 1943-48; host of NBC's Take It or Leave It, 1948-50;
star, CBS radio show Garry Moore Show, 1949-50; star, CBS-TV's Garry
Moore Show, 1951-58, 1958-64, 1966-67; moderator, I've Got
a Secret, 1953-64; substitute host, Arthur Godfrey's Talent
Scouts, 1953; host, syndicated television quiz show To Tell
the Truth, 1969-77. Member: National Academy of Television Arts
and Sciences. Died on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, 28 November
1951-58, 58-64, 1966-67 Garry Moore Show
1953-64 I've Got a Secret
1969-77 To Tell the Truth
1943-48 Jimmy Durante-Garry Moore Show
1948-50 Take It or Leave It
1949-50 Garry Moore Show
Blumenthal, Norman. The TV Game Show Book. New York: Pyramid,
Thomas A. Quiz Craze: America's Infatuation with Game Shows.
New York: Praeger 1991.
Maxine. TV Game Shows. Garden City, New York: Doubleday,
Jefferson. Come on Down!!!: The Game Show Book. New York:
David, Steve Ryan, and Fred Wostbrock. The Encyclopedia of TV
Game Shows. New York: Zoetrope, 1987.
Got a Secret; Talk