So Dick, how can I own a small piece of history?
I'm so glad you asked! 'm making up small Match Game souvenir packages consisting of three 30 to 40 year old Match Game questions secured in a plastic sleeve. It's a perfect gift for anyone who was a fan of the old Match Game. Each 3 question set cost $29.99. In the same envelope I'll include an autographed copy of MAD Magazine, my other career I continued writing for every issue of MAD while writing the Match Game. Postage in the US is $5.99 for Priority Mail. And your free copy of MAD normally costs $5.99, so postage is kinda like free!
Important! I am out of original Dumb Dora and Dumb Donald question cards, but you'll get 4 printed sheets with 18 more Match Game questions. So if you want to play the game with friends at home, with your 3 original cards, you'll have a total of 21 Match Game questions. And some of those questions on the bonus sheets ARE Dumb Donald and Dumb Dora questions!
The number of Match Game questions I have left is now very small, so I can only send them to US addresses. (When the remaining Match Game questions are all gone you'll _______ yourself for not ordering them sooner!)
Were you, or you a fan of the Match Game? (The old Gene Rayburn version.)
Are Dumb Dora and Dumb Donald household names in your family?
Then this is the page for you!
So what the _________ is this Match Game page all about?
A couple of times a month folks who are addicted to the old game shows on GSN (The Game Show Network) and Buzzr and who actually watch the credits at the end, e-mail me. They ask if I'm any relation to the Dick DeBartolo whose name appears on the credits of the old Match Game shows. No, it's no relation, it's me. I wrote questions for The Match Game for about 18 years. Credits on the Match Game were only run once a week. So four out of every five Match Game shows do not have credits. But on the 5th day, it's there, along with the names of the additional writers who were out in Hollywood. (I wrote from Goodson-Todman east in NY when the show moved west.)
In case you didn't see the GSN Special "The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blank", here's a bit of history. I was hired to write the Match Game back in early fall of 1961 about 3 months before the show went on the air. During pre-production the set was designed, the rules of the game were worked out and I started to create batches of Match Game questions. When Match Game first went on the air, New Year Eve, 1961, the questions were pretty 'quiet'. They were easy to answer things such as:
Name a red flower.
Name something you can make with a potato.
Name a President whose face appears on money.
Name something you can do with an egg.
Pretty exciting stuff, huh? Toward the end of the first year, Match Game was cancelled. Mark Goodson called me into his office and told me there were six weeks of shows left to do, but after they were recorded, production would stop. The option to carry Match Game over into a second year was not picked up by NBC.
After thinking about Match Game's demise over the weekend, I came back to Goodson-Todman Productions Monday morning and set up a meeting with head honco, Mark Goodson. I told him I worked for MAD Magazine and I had being thinking about bringing a 'MAD magazine approach' to the questions. I suggested we try some silly stuff. Mark asked to hear an example of one, and I read him this:
Mary like to pour gravy on John's______.
That was the first silly Match Game question I ever wrote. Goodson laughed and said: "It's funny, but what will people answer?" I told him they would most likely laugh like he did and then give acceptable answers like meatloaf, turkey, potatoes, etc. Goodson said: "Well the show's cancelled and has just six weeks to run. So do all the silly questions you want." Then he added: "The show's already cancelled, so NBC can't cancel it twice!"
On the very next show we started mixing in the new off-beat questions with the regular ones. The audience liked the the silly questions a lot and the ratings started to pick up. Even before the six weeks of production was up Goodson called me in to say the ratings had improved and that the network had picked up Match Game for another season! Going silly and adding a bit of double entendre questions gave the show a new life. One that lasted about 20 years, with three different reincarnations. And who ever dreamed, that thanks to the Game Show Network, The Match Game would live on, even today.
If you search YouTube "Behind The Blank" is sometimes up there to view.
I don't know if the Game Show Network still shows old Match Game shows, but I know that the Buzzr Channel does. As a matter of fact, I watched Match Game today, 12/14/16 and they even ran the credits. I saw my name at the end of the show along with the other writers added when the Match Game went to Hollywood.