The Original Panel (Don't Get Attached) (1952)

For all their celebrated successes in developing the very format of the TV panel show, producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman did not have much luck putting together a perfect panel right off the bat.  That's not surprising.  As they would learn, when a show has time to develop its identity (time Secret almost didn't get), eventually the right combination of panel members comes together almost organically to create the chemistry essential for keeping the show interesting.  If they're lucky (as G-T was often), a panel can survive departures and even deaths through the strength of the show itself, and through carefully selected and groomed replacements.​          

Despite the fact that three were from the world of show business, and the other a celebrated author, none of the original Secret panelists were particularly well known to the general public.  This was not necessarily seen as a problem in the Goodson-Todman offices.  Their original panel on What’s My Line? included a poet, a psychiatrist and a former New Jersey governor.  Only Arlene Francis from the original quartet was truly a performer.  Even Bennett Cerf, who came along a little later and became famous from his What’s My Line? appearances, would otherwise have been a relatively obscure book publisher.  Still, Secret's more entertainment-based original panel faired little better.  Three of them would be out by the eighth episode, and the fourth was gone by episode 15.  

Orson Bean was a rising star on the New York City comedy club scene in 1952, but virtually unknown to the rest of the country.  He was only 23 when he appeared on the panel.  Bean would go on to have a rich, full career, with successes on stage, in film, and especially on television.  His distinctive voice lent itself to cartoons and recordings. Among the iconic fictional characters he brought to life were Bilbo Baggins and Charlie Brown.  He made many guest appearances on a variety of series, and was a regular on the western drama Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993-1998) playing shopkeeper Loren Bray. He would also become known as a popular raconteur on talk shows.  Johnny Carson in particular was fond of Bean and had him on his version of The Tonight Show (1962-1992) some two hundred times, often with nothing whatsoever to plug. Carson knew he could just tell a good story and keep his audience entertained.  Moreover, his ill-fated experience with Secret didn’t spoil him on game shows.  He became a popular guest and panelist, most notably on various incarnations of To Tell The Truth.  Bean left Secret after two episodes, to be replaced by Bill Cullen.