About Me


Dick DeBartolo, MAD's Maddest Writer, and co-host of The Giz Wiz at GizWiz.TV, The Giz Wiz on ABC's World News Now, and on Tech Guy Labs with Leo Laporte on TWiT.tv. But wait, there's More »

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    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 is 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 (sometimes) there. I was the sole writer in east coast version, but three additional writers were added for the Hollywood version: Robert Sherman, Patrick Neary and Joe Neustein. (I continued writing my question 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. (You might still be able to find the special on YouTube.) 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!"

    Gene, Geraldo & Dick De at a Game Show Reunion Show.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 recently 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. 



    After the question "are you related to the Dick DeBartolo whose name appears on the Match Game credits?", the second most asked question is: 

    Do you get residuals from those endless reruns of theold Match Game shows?

    Well the answer is technically "yes". I got residuals just once. When the shows first went over to the Game Show Network I got two checks. I remember hearing that some money would be forth coming. When the checks arrived I thought: "Wow, this is going to be like found money!" But it wasn't quite that way. One check was for $1.12. Yep, $1.12! I thought that might at least be a weekly event, but it turned out to be the ONLY check I ever got for Match Game re-runs!
    I also worked on Family Feud, writing questions. Family Feud was really a spin-off from the "audience match" part of the Match Game. (Family Feud was another Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Production. I didn't work quite so many years on Family Feud so my check for reruns of that show was only $.28. Yes, twenty-eight cents!

    As you can image, I never cashed them. They were worth more as something to show friends 'my windfall', so they remain uncashed more than 10 years later. Not like they could be cashed now anyway.

    It was fun writing the Match Game all those years, but it would have been much more fun today if Ihad I gotten just a bit more from the re-runs, the DVD's, the video games, the foreign editions of Match Game and all the other Match Game stuff. Oh, well, what the ______!

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