|Big Bird: Gee, that's a silly question, Mr. Marshmallow.
Peter Marshall: Uh, no, Big Bird, that's Marshall, Mr. Marshall.
|In his book, Backstage With the Original Hollywood Square, Peter Marshall says he got his job partly thanks to a Kellogg's commercial, and partly to spite comedian Dan Rowan (who he hated and who was also up for the job). Marshall began his job on the first Hollywood Squares broadcast in October 1966, and stayed until the end of the syndicated version in 1981. He also hosted the 1968 prime time version, the Saturday morning Storybook Squares spinoff in 1969, and the syndicated nighttime version that ran from 1971 to 1981.
Peter Marshall, the son of a pharmacist, was born Pierre LaCock in Huntington, West Virginia in 1927. (His real name was once the source of a High Rollers question). He started his show biz career in his teens, singing with big bands. He went from there to working as a page at NBC and at one point deejayed in Italy. He eventually ended up in Los Angeles in 1949, starving and in debt. That's when he became partners with Tommy Noonan as the comedy team of Noonan and Marshall. The two made numerous appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and even did a couple of movies. Marshall also appeared in a few films (including "Ensign Pulver") and a few stage musicals ("Bye Bye Birdie" in London) before the Squares. He also did TV commercials, including the aforementioned ad for Kellogg's that still pops up occasionally on TV Land as a "Retromercial." (It's the one where he catches all the cereal boxes.) He even wrote the screenplay for "Maryjane", a 1968 anti-marijuana film. Marshall himself says he wrote the script in ten days, "and we started filming on the eleventh."
During the Squares years Marshall also hosted a syndicated variety show that aired late Saturday nights in the 1970s, and often performed song and dance on variety shows and awards shows like the People's Choice Awards. Just after Squares ended Marshall appeared as fictional radio comedian Bert Healy in the 1982 movie version of Annie.
After Squares Marshall hosted Fantasy (which, ironically, NBC cancelled to make way for The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour with the Squares segment hosted by Jon Bauman), All Star Blitz and an aborted late 1980s attempt to bring the Yatzhee game to TV. He also appeared as himself in a spoof called "East Hollywood Squares" on the Fox comedy show In Living Color and popped up on Mad TV in another game show spoof, "First to a Million." His last real game show was the disastrous Reel-to-Reel Movie Game on Paxnet. But he found his greatest happiness returning to his stage and musical roots. He appeared in "HMS Pinafore" with the London Symphony, and today once again sings with big bands. In fact he even has a few CDs out, and a website up and running to promote them. (You can get autographed copies of his book there, too.) He also filled in for Gary Owens as an announcer on the "Music of Your Life" radio network, leading to a regular slot of his own. Marshall and his third wife, Laurie, live in Encino, California when they're not playing in golf tournaments.
Incidentally, he's also the brother of the late actress Joanne Dru (who appeared on the show twice, in 1967 and '75), and the father of baseball player Pete LaCock.
The week of December 9-13, 2002, Marshall appeared on the newer version, also known as H2, as part of "Game Show Week." On Thursday, December 12, he hosted two games, his first appearance behind the Squares podium in 21 years. Game show fanatics were quick to the internet to proclaim that Marshall once and again, is the true Master of the Hollywood Squares.
Kenny Williams: And here's the master of the Hollywood Squares, Peter Marshall.
Peter Marshall: Thank you Kenny and good morning everyone. Nice to have you with us. Hello, stars!
Celebrities from the grid: Hello, Peter!
Peter Marshall: Object of the players is to get three stars in a row, either across, up and down or diagonally. It is up to them to figure out if the stars are giving them a correct answer or making one up. That's how they get the square. Each completed game is worth 200 dollars. We play a two out of three match. We play for 400 dollars. Every day we play a Secret Square game. We'll play that game as soon as we complete the one in progress.
--reading the rules (very fast) on the NBC daytime version in the 1970s
Peter Marshall: Object of the players is to get three stars in a row, either across, up and down or diagonally. It is up to them to figure out if the stars are giving them a correct answer or making one up. That's how they get the square. Each completed game is worth 250 dollars. In addition, in the first three games, our players vie for the Secret Square. Kenny?
--the rules again, very fast, this time on the syndicated nighttime version
Peter Marshall: The object of the game is to get three stars in a row, either across, up and down or diagonally. We ask the stars questions and you have to tell us whether their answers are right or wrong. That's how you get the squares. Incidentally, if they don't know the right answer they're going to bluff, so watch out. Each game is worth $100. Win the two out of three match and you get a $300 bonus, so you're playing for $500.
--the rules as Peter said them the very first time, October 17, 1966
Peter Marshall: That's the only rule you have to remember. If you're correct, you get the square. But if you miss, your opponent gets the square unless it gives him three squares in a row.
--what Peter said after the first move on the first show, October 17, 1966
Peter Marshall: Thank you, Kenny! Now let's show our home audience the Secret Square. Of course, as you know the stars are briefed before the show to help them with their bluffs, but are hearing the actual questions for the first time. Paula, you won the toss, you get to pick first.
Peter Marshall: In just a moment we'll light some squares, but first, listen to this message...
--pitching to the very first commercial in the very first show, October 17, 1966
Peter Marshall: Now I want you ladies to become birdwatchers. Watch for this new kind of Dove...
--pitching to a commercial in the 1960s
Peter Marshall: I don't think Valerie has a bluff, do you want to take it?
Valerie Bertinelli: No wait, I think--
Marshall: Uh, no, at this point it would obviously be a guess and we would want to be sure...
--If a celebrity couldn't come up with a bluff, Marshall would offer the question to the contestant, who usually refused it
Peter Marshall: We did not get to chat with Pam Grier this evening, but next time out we will...
---traditional end-of-show courtesy to celebrity who didn't get picked in that episode
Peter Marshall: Incidentally, tonight, Paul Lynde is in the premiere show of "The Donny and Marie Show." It's on another network at eight o'clock, and we'll all be watching it, Paul.
--plugs like this one were a big part of Marshall's job
Peter Marshall: Stay tuned for The Magnificent Marble Machine. Have a good weekend, bye-bye everyone, thank you very much...
--rushing through a closing in 1976
Peter Marshall: Time is up. We'll continue the game from exactly this point on our next show. Thank you, contestants, and thank you, stars. Good-bye!
--wrapping up some of the earliest shows in 1966
|actress Joanne Dru|
|(from a 1967 show)
Peter Marshall: Also with us a young lady that I've known for many many years, I think she is my favorite actress. It's the first game show she's ever appeared on. Let's make welcome my sister, who I love very much, Miss Joanne Dru, is with us today and we're very happy. Hi Joanie!
|Peter Marshall: Dick Clark...always a pleasure...you beat me out of the Emmy this year! Boo!
--being a model of sportsmanship when Dick Clark was one of the squares in 1979
|(I don't remember the question for the life of me but what happened next was priceless)
Tony Randall (staring dramatically into the camera): I don't know.
(half beat before audience roars with laughter)
Peter Marshall: This is a bluffing game! You're supposed to come up with a bluff if you don't know the answer, you silly twerp!
Randall: Well, I'm sorry...
|(on another occasion)
Peter Marhsall: What classic poem contains the famous line "Yea slimy things did crawl with
legs upon the slimy sea"?
Tony Randall: I haven't the faintest idea.
Peter Marshall: Are you briefed before the show?
Tony Randall: No.
Peter Marshall: You see, I told you some of the stars are briefed. It's a game of bluff, Tony!
|(on yet another occasion after Tony Randall frankly didn't know)
Peter Marshall: You're really getting to be a pain in the ass, you know that, Tony?
|Peter Marshall: Back in the 1870s, Emile Berliner invented something, and without it, I wouldn't be able to do my job. What was it?
Paul Lynde: Let's see...toupees? Facelifts? Contact lenses?
Marshall: Now cut that out!
Lynde: ...Makeup? Capped teeth? Loud sports jackets?
|Peter Marshall: True or false, on a recent talk show, Joey Heatherton said, "I am not a sexpot."
Jan Murray: She's right, Pete, but you're a damn good emcee.
|Peter Marshall: What kind of bird are you, Big Bird?
Big Bird: I'm a lark.
Peter Marshall (laughing): You certainly are...
|(from Kermit Schafer's Blooper files...this one may not have aired)
Peter Marshall: According to Emily Post, when a man is finished smoking a cigar, should he leave his butt in the ass-tray? I mean leave his butt in the ash-tray!
|Peter Marshall: Charo, this is for the championship...You and a friend are going to take it...what? Oh, I see. You and a friend are going to take to the streets on your bicycles. Is it safe to ride abreast?
(audience chuckles as Charo looks puzzled)
Charo: Abreast? Abreast?
Burt Reynolds: If it is, I want to ride with you.
Charo: I believe they mean women riding abreast, yes?
Peter Marshall: No, no, no, no, no. Charo, our producer, Jay Redack, explained it to you.
Peter Marshall: ...he wrote the question. I will not explain it to you. I'll let you just go on now. Do you know what abreast is? I mean (audience roars) do you know what riding abreast is?
Charo: If it's for your own safety, you should wear a vest, sure. Go ahead.
Peter Marshall: Abreast?
Charo: A distance between...like, what, how you say it?
Peter Marshall: Like if we were riding this way we would be riding abreast.
Charo: ...oh no, no no. In the back, in the back.
|Peter Marshall: Can traffic noises affect your sexual prowess?
Jim Backus: Yes, so you should pull over and park. (laughter)
Peter Marshall: Yes, okay...so, can sexual noises affect your sexual prowess? I mean...can traffic noises affect your sexual prowess?
Peter Marshall: ...tonight we have a secret square worth 44 million dollars. I mean (laughter) 44 thousand dollars!
Peter Marshall: Paul, true or false...a giant tortoise at a Seattle Jew...Zoo! (audience and stars laugh hysterically) This will definitely be on the outtakes in Vegas!
Peter Marshall: Okay, pick a star.
Contestant: Steve Landesberg?
Peter Marshall: I said, pick a star!
Steve Landesberg: Hey! (audience laughter) That's okay, I've seen your act!
(A contestant named Rosalynn who's a librarian has picked the secret square for the second time.)
Peter Marshall: Having fun tonight?
Peter: Isn't this fun? I tell you...better than the library? (starts singing) MARION-- Rosalynn: Yes indeed, and don't call me that!
Peter: I'm sorry. I was talking about the librarian from "The Music Man."
Rosalynn: I'm not the image; the image doesn't fit me!
Peter: This young lady is lashing out at an emcee all of a sudden!
Joey Bishop: Wait'll she finds out the prizes are due back inside of two weeks!
(Marshall asks a question about actress Sandra Dee)
Vincent Price: Who's Sandra Dee?
(after contestant part)
Peter Marshall: And Sandra ... the name is VINCENT PRICE!
|Peter Marshall: True or false, your teeth are about the same size and shape as a pig's?
Paul Lynde: Look who's talking, Beaverface!
Peter: (imitates a beaver) I love it! (laughs) Oh, gosh!
(later on the same show)
Peter Marshall: As children, both Johnny Carson and Jimmy Stewart wanted to grow up to be something. Be what?
John Davidson: Uh, this came out in Photoplay Magazine, Peter, Just this last week.
John: They...uh...It was discussing what people wanted to be when they grew up...
Peter: What do you want to be by the way?
John: ...and uh...That's funny, Beaverface!
(later on the same show)
Peter Marshall: As you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while talking?
Rose Marie: You give me one more question about getting older...and I'll give you a gesture you won't forget!
Peter: Welcome to "Attack The Host"! Right? But as you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while talking, Italian lady?
Rose: Less, Beaverface!
(later on the same show)
Peter Marshall: Do most American families have at least one pet?
George Gobel: Why don't you go build yourself a dam and leave me alone? (Peter laughs then repeats the question) Yes, and it usually happens during the Johnny Carson show.
(In November 1975, the show celebrated the start of its 10th season with a special week which included an hour-long show, so loaded with celebrity guests many were rotated in and out of squares during quarter-hour commercial breaks. During this show, Marshall reads a question in which he mispronounces "Sacajawea" as "sack-uh-juh-WAY-uh")
Art James: That's Sack-uh-juh-WEE-uh, Peter, get it right!
(some groans and whistles from the audience; at next commercial, James is rotated from his square as scheduled)
Peter Marshall: Art James has just been led away from his square by Sacajawea...
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