Mark Goodson Wiki
Mark Goodson Wiki
CBS Primetime, February 2, 1950 – September 3, 1967
Number of episodes
Run time
30 Minutes
John Daly
Grand Central Studios, New York City, New York State
CBS Studios 52, 59 and 50, New York City, New York State

What's My Line? is the long-running panel game show where the celebrity panelists try to figure out unusual occupations of everyday people. It's the long-running panel show that asks the question..."Is it bigger than a breadbox?"

Game Format[]

Main Game[]

In each What's My Line? game, a contestant would enter the stage and sign in his/her name, by virtue of the host saying, "Will you enter & sign in please?" After that, he/she sat down at a desk next to the host. The game would begin by having the home audience be shown what's his/her line, and the host afterwards told the panel a clue which is usually "deals in a service" or "self-employed", something like those. Now the panelists in turn asked yes-or-no questions to the contestant which would hopefully lead to the right line. Each time the panelist in control got a yes answer, his/her turn continued, but if at any time the panelist in control got a no answer, he/she loses his/her turn and control passed to the next panelist in line; the contestant will also receive $5. Upon a no answer, the host would say the famous catchphrase "# down, # to go" (Ex: 2 down, 8 to go). Sometimes a question would have the host make a brief explanation which can lead to either a yes or no answer. A panelist can be allowed to pass his/her turn without penalty; other times the panel can call a conference. If the panel can guess the right line, they won the game, but if they got ten no answers, the contestant stumped the panel and won the game and a maximum total of $50. Often, the host would throw the cards over (end the game) when time was running short or any other reason.

Mystery Guest[]

After two rounds of What's My Line? were played, a third round was played but a little differently. For this round featured the appearance of the "Mystery Guest". This was where the panelists were blindfolded so they couldn't see the guest. The mystery guest entered and signed in as usual, and that's where the game began. As usual the panel asked yes or no questions, this time to try and guess the name of the mystery challenger. What makes this round more different is that this time each panelist can only ask one question per turn hence the rule "one question at a time", and they had two to three minutes to identify the guest. While all this was going on, the mystery guest disguised his/her voice in a variety of ways.

Some mystery guests wouldn't be famous from the entertainment field, but from other walks of life; when that happens, those guests would play in the main rounds; instead of writing their names, they would write down a big "X" referring to them as Mr. or Ms. "X".



Arlene Francis
Bennett Cerf
Dorothy Kilgallen

Broadcast History[]

February 02-March 16, 1950 (Every other Thursday at 8:00 p.m.)
April 12-September 27, 1950 (Every other Wednesday at 9:00 p.m.)
October 1, 1950-End of Run (Sunday at 10:30 p.m.)


International Versions[]

Main Article: What's My Line?/International

What's My Line? - Live On Stage[]

Originally from November 2004 to July 2006, Jim Newman and J. Keith van Straaten (former host of Comedy Central's Beat the Geeks) produced one-hour live stage versions of the show at the ACME Comedy Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, called What's My Line? - Live On Stage. The Los Angeles version of the live show went on hiatus when van Straaten relocated to New York, then resumed in June 2007.

The production debuted in New York at the Barrow Street Theatre on March 24, 2008 for an announced run of six shows. The show is now an authorized production of FremantleMedia (the owners of What's My Line?) As of April 12, 2008; the New York mystery guests have been:

  • George Wendt
  • Moby
  • Natalia Paruz
  • Tony Roberts

Panelists have included:

  • Michael Riedel
  • Stephanie D'Abruzzo
  • Frank DeCaro
  • Jonathan Ames

including veterans from the original TV version:

  • Betsy Palmer
  • Julia Meade

The first guest on the New York show (#75 in the production overall) was Pat Finch, who was the first guest on the first episode of the original CBS primetime version.

In Los Angeles, panelists have included:

  • Carlos Alazraqui
  • Alison Arngrim
  • E.G. Daily
  • Andy Dick
  • Paul Goebel (also a Beat the Geeks veteran)
  • Danny Goldman
  • Annabelle Gurwitch
  • Mariette Hartley
  • Elaine Hendrix
  • Marty Ingles
  • Cathy Ladman
  • David L. Lander
  • Kate Linder
  • Ann Magnuson
  • Jayne Meadows
  • Lee Meriwether
  • Patt Morrison
  • Rick Overton
  • Jimmy Pardo (former host of GSN's/Game Show Network's National Lampoon's Funny Money)
  • Lisa Jane Persky
  • Nancy Pimental (former co-host of Comedy Central's Win Ben Stein's Money)
  • Greg Proops
  • Mink Stole
  • Nicole Sullivan
  • Marcia Wallace
  • Matt Walsh
  • Len Wein
  • Wil Wheaton
  • Gary Anthony Williams
  • Debra Wilson
  • April Winchell
  • Andy Zax

Mystery guests from the L.A. version have included:

  • Ed Begley, Jr.
  • Stephen Bishop
  • Mr. Blackwell
  • LeVar Burton
  • Brett Butler
  • Jose Canseco
  • Drew Carey
  • Andy Dick
  • Michael & Kitty Dukakis
  • Hector Elizondo
  • Nanette Fabray
  • Peter Falk
  • Bruce Jenner
  • Larry King
  • Kathy Kinney
  • Bruno Kirby
  • Tara Lipinski
  • Lisa Loeb
  • Shelley Long
  • Leonard Maltin
  • Rose Marie
  • Wink Martindale
  • Sally Struthers
  • Rip Taylor
  • Judy Tenuta
  • Alan Thicke
  • Dick Van Patten
  • Lindsay Wagner
  • Wil Wheaton 
  • Noah Wyle
  • Sean Young

Panelists and guests who have appeared in the original television and on-the-stage versions include:

  • Shelley Berman
  • Lee Meriwether
  • Michael Jackson (radio commentator)
  • Jayne Meadows
  • Nanette Fabray
  • Joanna Barnes
  • Julie Newmar
  • Margaret O'Brien
  • Marty Ingles

Usually, when such a veteran appears, there is a pristine-quality DVD screening of the original kinescope on a plasma screen. Non-celebrities include the lifelong Los Angeles-area resident who challenged the panel with her line, afterwards reminiscing how 43 years earlier she had traveled to New York, where Arlene Francis identified her as a meter maid. A clip of the kinescope was played.

In addition, the show had featured relatives of the original cast:

  • Jill Kollmar (daughter of Dorothy Kilgallen and Richard Kollmar)
  • Nina Daly (daughter of John Charles Daly)
  • Vinton Cerf (co-inventor of the internet and distant cousin of Bennett Cerf)

In addition, It also included a segment in which Vinton Cerf's son Bennett (named after the panelists) appeared as a guest.


What's My Line? - Live On Stage (via Internet Archive)
What's My Line? - Live On Stage ticket site @ Barrow Street Theatre
What's My Line? - Live On Stage ticket site @ TheaterMania
What's My Line? - Live On Stage Facebook Page


Main Article: What's My Line?/Merchandise


Main Article: What's My Line?/Photos

Episode Status[]

See Also: What's My Line?/Episode Guide

Only about ten episodes exist from the first two years of the series, including the first three broadcasts. The rest of the series exists in its entirety and has been aired on GSN and Buzzr at various times in the past.

See Also[]

What's My Line? (Radio)
What's My Line? (1963 proposed revival)
What's My Line? (1968)
What's My Line? at 25
That's My Line
What's My Line? (1981 proposed revival)
What's My Line? (1996 proposed revival)
What's My Line? (2000 pilot)
What's My Line? (2008 proposed revival)
What's My Line? (2015 Proposed revival)


What's My Line? @ Person's Official Website (via Internet Archive)



First Episode of What's My Line


The Premiere Episode of What's My Line?


What's My Line (July 19, 1953)


What's My Line? - Final CBS Show; PANEL Martin Gabel, Steve Allen (Sep 3, 1967) W COMMERCIALS