I've Got a Secret
1972-73 (Syndication, Steve Allen)

Recordings occurred mostly on alternate Thursdays, with two shows taped in each session.

In 1972, Goodson-Todman revived I’ve Got a Secret for syndication, meaning individual stations and station groups would buy the show directly from a distributor and would have great latitude in where they would place it on their program schedule.  G-T was already having success with syndicated versions of What’s My Line?, which debuted in the fall of 1968, and To Tell the Truth, which came around a year later.  Both those shows were being offered as daily programs.  Secret would be, as it always had been, a weekly show.  The most dramatic change is that it would now be produced in Hollywood rather than New York.

The public first started hearing about a revival in early February.  Goodson-Todman (and their distributor Firestone) took out a splashy full-page trade ad announcing the revival and its host…Art Linkletter?  The popular television personality had appeared on the original several times and was on the short list to replace Garry Moore when he stepped down in 1964.  By April, without explanation, Linkletter was out and Steve Allen was in.  Steve had been hosting a syndicated talk-variety show, the last and least noticed of three he had launched in a relatively short span.  That show had folded in January (at the end it was only airing in eighteen markets), leaving him available to return to his old role. 

Also returning to his old role, for a lot of the run anyway, was Henry Morgan, as irascible as ever if not more so.  His well-documented disdain for Steve Allen, or anything else Henry found irritating, would occasionally be on full display.  Jayne Meadows, who presumably had a fonder opinion of Steve, made a few appearances as well.  The other panelists remained in New York. Bill Cullen had become a regular on To Tell the Truth. Bess Myerson had left television for a political career. Betsy was primarily focused on her stage work and also had the odd job of “Den Mother” (occasional hostess, liaison and spokesperson) at the fashionable Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue.  

The biggest new addition was Richard Dawson, clearly designated by Steve most weeks as the featured “anchorman” of the panel. Dawson had been an actor (Hogan’s Heroes) and comedian (Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In) and was just beginning the “game show personality” phase of his career, which would suit him well.  After this series ended, he became a regular on the updated revival of Match Game.  He gained a huge following there, which led to him becoming the host of Family Feud a few years later. 

The regular panelists were Dawson (37 of the 39 episodes), Morgan (22), comic actress Pat Carroll (29) and stage veteran Anita Gillette (25).  Oddly, that particular group of four did not end up working together as a quartet until the 23rd week of the 39-week series.  Others who appeared for more than a single two-show session were Jayne (6), Nanette Fabray (6), Gene Rayburn (5), Arte Johnson (4), Bert Convy (4), and Betty White (4).  

The show looked and played just about the same way it always had.  Instead of a curtain, the back area was hidden from view by a large partition Steve would refer to as “The Great Wall.”  When the wall was down, contestants would enter through a doorway inside the giant “A” of the show’s logo.  When they needed the extra room for the demonstrations and performances, the Great Wall would fly up to reveal whatever nonsense the producers had cooked up.  Also, this version solved the problem of playing for low stakes not by raising the prize money but by removing it altogether.  Guests received gifts and had their expenses covered, but the game was played without any mention of anybody winning anything. (The syndicated version of What’s My Line? had similarly done away with its references to prize money.) 

This revival only lasted a single season.  There wasn’t anything wrong with the series itself.  It continued to provide fun, clever and interesting segments, sometimes with a modern edge.  (They were particularly fond of the possibilities associated with touch-tone telephones and similar technological marvels.)  Many segments were cribbed from nearly identical games played on the original series, but you would have needed a long memory to know that, and they were plenty of fun on their own merits.  Locating the series to the West Coast meant having access to a lot more of the television stars who called California home.  The vast majority of regular contestants also hailed from the Golden State. 

What probably hurt the show most of all is that in this case, Goodson-Todman was a victim of their own success.  When What’s My Line? was resurrected for syndication a few years earlier, it was deliberately designed to be a looser version of the original show, and specifically incorporated some of the demonstrations that John Daly had objected to originally, but that had made I’ve Got a Secret so popular.  (G-T insiders jokingly called the new version What’s My Secret Line?)  With both shows covering the same ground, and in some cases even using the very same contestants, the new Secret didn’t offer anything that audiences weren’t already getting five times a week.  Add to that a competitive and confusing syndicated marketplace, in which weekly game shows were having a harder time gaining a foothold than five-a-week “strip” series were, and Secret didn’t have much of a chance.   

Use the chart below to learn more about the secrets and the stars of each of the syndicated episodes.  Where a state is not specified in a contestant intro, assume California.  Three of the 39 episodes do not appear to be in the Fremantle archives, as noted below.  We don’t like to use the word “lost” to describe such programs, but they’ll certainly be hard to find.  

Ep Tape Date Special Guest Panel Notes
1 June 23 Paul Lynde Carroll, Morgan, Meredith MacRae, Dawson
2 June 23 Joan Rivers Carroll, Morgan, Meredith MacRae, Dawson Joan Embery (San Diego Zoo)
3 July 6 Alan Alda Meadows, Bill Bixby, Brenda Benet, Jack Cassidy
4 July 6 Monty Hall Meadows, Bill Bixby, Brenda Benet, Jack Cassidy Florence LaRue (The 5th Dimension)
5 July 20 JoAnne Worley Stephanie Edwards, Rayburn, Gillette, Dawson Dick and Tom Van Arsdale (NBA)
6 July 20 Buddy Hackett JoAnne Worley, Rayburn, Gillette, Dawson Kirk Alyn (Film's first Superman)
7 August 3 Milton Berle Carroll, Alan Alda, Betty White, Dawson Poker Star Amarillo Slim
8 August 3 Rich Little Carroll, Alan Alda, Betty White, Dawson
9 August 17 Dom DeLuise Carroll, Arte Johnson, Nanette Fabray, Dawson
10 August 17 Red Buttons Carroll, Arte Johnson, Nanette Fabray, Dawson Animated character "Elliot Nootrac"
11 September 14 Greg Morris Carroll, Arte Johnson, Gillette, Dawson
12 September 14 Bob Barker Carroll, Arte Johnson, Gillette, Dawson
13 September 21 Kaye Ballard Carroll, Rayburn, Nanette Fabray, Dawson Lassie
14 September 21 Charles Nelson Reilly Carroll, Rayburn, Nanette Fabray, Dawson Model Janice Pennington
15 October 5 Alan Sues Carroll, Morgan, Nanette Fabray, Dawson
16 October 5 Rod Serling Carroll, Morgan, Nanette Fabray, Dawson
17 October 19 George Kirby Carroll, Bert Convy, Gillette, Dawson
18 October 19 George Burns Carroll, Bert Convy, Gillette, Dawson
19 November 2 Marty Allen Betty White, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson
20 November 2 Martin Milner Betty White, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson
21 November 16 Cliff Robertson Meadows, Bert Convy, Gillette, Dawson Peanuts Animator Bill Melendez
22 November 16 Jack Carter Meadows, Bert Convy, Gillette, Dawson
23 November 30 Cass Elliot Carroll, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson
24 November 30 Paul Winchell Carroll, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson
25 December 14 Allen Ludden Carroll, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson Ice Skater Richard Dwyer
26 December 14 Vincent Price Carroll, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson Mentalist Gene Marvin
27 December 28 Jack Klugman Carroll, Morgan, June Lockhart, Dawson Models Anitra Ford, Janice Pennington
28 December 28 Bill Macy Carroll, Morgan, June Lockhart, Dawson Bodybuilder Frank Zane
29 January 11 Michael Landon Carroll, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson Three past Miss Americas
30 January 11 Jo Ann Pflug Carroll, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson Missing from archive
31 January 25 Joel Grey Carroll, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson
32 January 25 Jan Murray Carroll, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson Missing from archive
33 February 8 Frank Gorshin Carroll, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson
34 February 8 Ruth Buzzi Carroll, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson Missing from archive
35 February 22 Robert Reed Meadows, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson
36 February 22 Don Knotts Meadows, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson Food Critic Raymond Sokolov
37 March 8 John Davidson Carroll, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson Astronaut Buzz Aldrin
38 March 8 Anne Meara Carroll, Morgan, Gillette, Dawson Jerry Stiller
39 March 15 Chad Everett Carroll, Gene Rayburn, Gillette, Dawson