Match Game - The Match Game (1962–1969, NBC)

The Match Game (1962–1969, NBC)

The pilot for the original version of The Match Game, created by Goodson-Todman staffer Frank Wayne, bore little resemblance to its more famous descendant. Taped December 5, 1962 with Gene Rayburn as host, Peggy Cass and Peter Lind Hayes each headed a team of two non-celebrities who attempted to match answers to simple questions. All six contestants wrote down their answers to a question. If two team members matched answers the team earned 10 points, and if all three team members matched, the team earned 20 points. The first team to score at least 50 points won the game and received $100. The winning team moved on to a bonus round, attempting to guess the answer to a recent audience survey. Each correct match was worth $25 for a possible top prize of $300. The series premiered on December 31 with Arlene Francis and Skitch Henderson. The show was taped in Studio 8G at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, which was later used for The Phil Donahue Show and The Rosie O'Donnell Show and now houses NBC Sports.

A team scored 25 points if two teammates matched answers, or 50 points if all three players matched. The first team to score 100 points won $100 and played the Audience Match, which featured three survey questions. Each player who agreed with the most popular answer to a question earned the team $50, for a possible total of $450.

The questions used in the game were commonplace: "Name a kind of muffin" or "John loves his _____." In 1963, NBC canceled the series with six weeks left to be recorded. Question writer Dick DeBartolo came up with a funnier set of questions, like "Mary likes to pour gravy all over John's _____", and submitted it to Mark Goodson. With the knowledge that the show couldn't be canceled again, Goodson gave the go-ahead for the more risque-sounding questions – a decision that caused a significant boost in ratings and an "un-cancellation" by NBC.

The Match Game consistently won its time slot from 1963–1966 and again from April 1967-July 1968, with its ratings allowing it to finish third among all network daytime games for the 1963–1964 and 1967–1968 seasons (in the latter, the top two games were NBC's own, both of which would also enjoy long runs and multiple revivals: Jeopardy! and Hollywood Squares). Although the series still did well in the ratings (despite the popularity of ABC's horror-themed soap opera Dark Shadows), it was canceled in 1969 along with other games in a major daytime programming overhaul, being replaced by Letters to Laugh-In which, although a spin-off of the popular prime time series Laugh-In, ended in just three months on December 26.

The Match Game continued through September 26, 1969 on NBC for 1,760 episodes, airing at 4:00 p.m. Eastern (3:00 Central), running 25 minutes due to a five-minute newscast. Since announcer Johnny Olson split time between New York and Miami to announce The Jackie Gleason Show, one of the network's New York staff announcers (such as Don Pardo or Wayne Howell) would fill in for Olson when he could not attend a broadcast.

On March 27, 1967 the show added a "Telephone Match" game, in which a home viewer and a studio audience member attempted to match a simple fill-in-the-blank question similar to the 70s' "Head-To-Head Match". A successful match won a jackpot which started at $500 and increased by $100 per day until won.

Very few episodes of the 1960s The Match Game survive (see "Episode Status" section below).

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