I've Got a Secret is a panel game show that ran, in its original incarnation, from 1952 until 1967 in prime time television on CBS.
What's a panel show? Glad you asked. You must be new here. Panel shows usually featured a group of three or four celebrities asking questions to ordinary folks (or sometimes fellow celebrities) in order to figure something out, usually something about the person who is answering the questions. They were enormously popular in the 1950s, and the production company led by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman had the three biggest ones. What's My Line? would become the most famous and To Tell the Truth would have the longest staying power, but in its time, I've Got a Secret was the most popular. At its peak, it would regularly rank in the top twenty most-watched shows on television. Its popularity could be attributed to many things, but mostly, it was that the simple game quickly became secondary to the constant parade of interesting people, wacky demonstrations and musical performances that made the series more of a variety program than a game show.
It's the interesting people, wacky demonstrations and musical performances that our focus here will be. Sure, it's an episode guide. It's the most thorough, complete and accurate episode guide for I've Got a Secret that's ever been published. But we hope it's more than that. We figure there were about two thousand secrets in the show's fifteen year run, and many of them we find fascinating. We think you'll find them fascinating too. Each episode we've reviewed (and a great many we haven't) has brief but detailed information about each individual "secret," and the people associated with them. In most cases, you'll get details not covered on the TV show. You'll learn what happened to the contestants after their moment of TV fame, or why a celebrity you've never heard of was famous once upon a time.
I've Got a Secret, more than any other game show, reflected the culture of its time. While What's My Line? presented the country with a New York sophistication and elegance that was largely aspirational, I've Got a Secret gave off more of a a middle-American sensibility. It introduced a national audience to items we take for granted now, like Velcro, microwave ovens, Super Glue, even seedless watermelon. It gave young, rising stars an early career boost, and it gave legendary icons a final moment in the spotlight. It showed mainstream America what mainstream America wanted to see, and was wildly popular because of it.
We invite you back to a time when baseball and boxing were the two dominant sports in all the land. When the two most indispensable sources of information were the daily newspaper and the telephone book. When the older generation didn't "get" Elvis or The Beatles or any number of modern artists, so they made fun of them. When we raced against the Russians not only on the track but also in space, all the while worried that the competition might turn more serious. And yes, a time when married women were identified as "Mrs. Husband's-First-Name," cigarettes were a common part of everyday life and, at least on television, African-Americans were virtually invisible. This isn't sugar-coated nostalgia. It's what happened.
From the husband with 27 children to the man who invented television, from Elvis Presley's grandfather to the team that fought to make Alaska a state, it's all in here. The good, the bad, and the different. Poke around, there's a lot to see.