Square Bluffs
Peter Marshall: What is Fran Tarkenton famous for? 
Wally Cox: Fran Tarkenton is famous to me for being the only mother of the year who could actually knit.
(correct answer: of course, at the time, Fran Tarkenton was quarterback for the New York Giants; the answer on the card was "NFL player")

I originally conceived this site to stress the comedy that made
The Hollywood Squares such a special show.  But many of the game show fanatics that have contacted me over the last five years are just as much into the game play.  And why shouldn't they be: first of all there's the "big board," the grid with all the flashing lights.  There was the clever strategy that involved play from the celebrities and separate strategy for the contestants, not just over answers but board positions.

While people like Paul Lynde, Buddy Hackett or Joan Rivers could always be counted on for a one-liner or two, some celebrities were there just to play the game.  And that's where the "bluff" answers come in.  Celebrities relied on their acting skills to convince the contestants they were certain about what was really a wrong answer (Robert Fuller of
Emergency! was the grand master of this type of bluff, and Wally Cox was especially good at it too), but some were really wild guesses.  But then there's John Davidson, who played up the "male bimbo" bit to hide the fact that he actually knew the correct answer a high percentage of the time.  Davidson was the grandmaster of leaving the contestant a little uncertain, making them feel an actually correct answer was a wild and lucky guess.

And of course, there's the occasional "trick question."   John Davidson especially got a lot of those.  When I reprinted one of those on this site once, a visitor emailed me to jump all over me for copying it down wrong.  I didn't, it came from the "Zingers" album, and I copied it word for word.  It was a trick question.

In later versions in later years, some of the meaner-spirited celebrities would swear they had the right answer because of a personal connection or something, even strongly urge the contestant to agree, but it couldn't be farther from the truth.  On the Marshall version they didn't quite stoop to that level, they just preferred to use the old deadpan, which made for some off the wall bluffs and a far more entertaining show.

(from a 1979 nighttime show themed on classic rock stars)
Peter Marshall:  Kathryn Power, Carlos Torres, Leo Koury and Charles Herron are four of the most sought-after people in America.  Why?
Connie Francis: The Village People?
(contestant disagrees)
Peter Marshall: No, close though.  They're on the FBI's ten most wanted list!

Peter Marshall: What do Ezra Pound, Vachel Lindsey and Sarah Teasdale have in common?
Robert Fuller: They were all founders of the Salvation Army.
Contestant: I disagree?
Peter Marshall: They were all famous American poets!

(classic trick question)
Peter Marshall: Does the Medicare program cover pregnancy?
Buddy Hackett: It does not provide for the incept of it
(laughter) but it will help you out at the finish.
Contestant: I disagree.
Peter Marshall: No, you must be over 65 to eligible for Medicare.

(from a 1968 NBC prime time show, apparently sometime before the 1968 Republican Convention)
Peter Marshall: Hey Flash, if you saw a photograph of Spiro Agnew, what would you be seeing?
Wally Cox: I would be seeing a tropical vine of such vigorous growth, it's known to crush verandas and stuff like that.  Be careful when you plant Spiro Agnew.
Contestant: I disagree.
Peter Marshall: You don't agree?  Spiro Agnew is the governor of Maryland!

Peter Marshall: Why did we repeal the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, John?
John Davidson: We replaced the 19th Amendment, Peter, with the 20th. That's why the 20th was enacted...
(audience and stars laugh) Wait a minute...Do we laugh at stars when they give answers?
Peter Marshall: I'm not laughing, John.
(correct answer: we never repealed the 19th Amendment, but the 18th; it was a trick question)

Peter Marshall: Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Trenton, New Jersey and Baltimore, Maryland all have one important historical fact in common.  What is it?
Van Johnson: They're all eastern cities, they have the largest coal mines.
Contestant: I agree with Van.
Peter Marshall: They were all at one time or another, capitols of the United States.
Buddy Hackett: ...I agree with Van, I played Baltimore once and it was definitely a coal mine! 
Peter Marshall: Let's keep them cards and letters coming in from Baltimore, folks, to Buddy!

Peter Marshall:  Bob McGrath is the host of a television show which had an enormous impact on the television world.  What's the show?
Barbara Feldon:  That show was on about four years ago I think.  Yeah, that was the original
NBC White Paper, that is still on.
Contestant: I disagree.
Peter Marshall: 
Sesame Street.

Peter Marshall: Luther Halsey Gulick and his wife Charlotte started something in 1910 that is still  very much with us.  What did they start?...  
Jan Murray: Well unfortunately I happen to know about this.  I say unfortunately because this is the first gentleman in the history of the United States to pay alimony to his wife.  There might have been alimony payments prior, but this was the first legal case of a man being forced to pay alimony.
Contestant: I disagree.
Peter Marshall: Luther Halsey Gulick and his wife Charlotte started the Camp Fire Girls!
(Murray holds his hands up in disbelief)

Peter Marshall: Nannette, a man named John Pott made news in January.  What did he do?
Nannette Fabray:  He was the man who broke the skydiving record, you know, how far down one goes before they open their parachute.  That was this last year.
Contestant: No, I don't agree.
Peter Marshall: He was the winner of the Bing Crosby Invitational Golf Tournament.

Peter Marshall: Abby, a man named John Rock changed the course of American life a few years back. What did he do?
Abby Dalton: John Rock, that's the man.  I believe he's the man who developed the first color television tube.
Contestant: I disagree.
Peter Marshall: John Rock is the inventor of the first birth control pill.

Peter Marshall: The word "igloo" is Eskimo for what?
Wally Cox
(without blinking an eye): Warm place facing south.
(after audience laughter) Contestant: I disagree.
Peter Marshall
(sarcastically):  Warm place facing south!  It means "home"!

(classic example of a really bad attempt at bluffing)
Peter Marshall:  On radio, Margo Lane knew something about young, handsome, wealthy Lamont Cranston.  In fact, she knew about Lamont Cranston, things that no one else knew.  What was it?
Paul Lynde:  Lamont Cranston?  That his bellybutton was an outsie.
(laughter, then Peter re-reads the question)
Paul:  Uh, as I remember he was afraid of heights.
(more laughter) Okay, I'll go for another one, let's see...Lamont Cranston was afraid of something?
Peter
(laughing): No, I didn't say that!  I said Margo Lane knew something about young, handsome Lamont Cranston on radio that no one else knew.  What was it?
Paul:  That he was already married!
(more laughter)
Peter:  Rosalyn, I'll offer you the question, obviously Paul does not have a very good bluff.
(Correct answer:  Lamont Cranston was "The Shadow")

Peter Marshall: In 1895, the Lumiere Brothers of France...took a group of people into a dark room and showed them the first one of its kind.  What was it?
Jonathan Winters:  Those are Frenchmen, all right. 
(audience laughter)...I suppose they probably showed their X-rays.
(contestant agrees)
Peter Marshall: No.  Good one though, good bluff.  A motion picture...although Thomas Edison invented the equipment, they actually made the first motion picture.

Peter Marshall:  We've all heard of John Paul Jones.  Who is John Paul Stevens?
Tony Randall:  He was the discoverer of chicle.
Contestant: I agree.
Peter Marshall:  No, he's a justice of the Supreme Court.


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Robert Fuller
Nanette Fabray