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Match Game

Match Game was an American television game show where contestants tried to match a panel of six celebrities in answering fill-in-the-blank questions.

Broadcast history

The original Match Game ran from 1962 through 1969 on NBC. Although the fill-in-the-blanks premise was the same, the rules of this version were significantly different from those described in this article.

CBS revived the show on July 2, 1973, as Match Game '73 (the number changed to match the current year). After CBS canceled the show on April 20, 1979, the show found new life in daily syndication, where it ran until 1982 as Match Game (without the year). A weekly syndicated version, Match Game PM, also ran from 1975 to 1981.

Match Game was revived on October 31, 1983, as part of NBC's Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour; that version ended on July 27, 1984. Two unsuccessful revivals were attempted in the 1990s: from July 16, 1990, to July 12, 1991, on ABC, and during the 1998-99 season in syndication.

Hosts and celebrity panelists

Gene Rayburn hosted all versions of the show through 1984. Ross Shafer hosted the 1990 version, and Michael Burger hosted the 1998 version.

Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers were regular celebrity panelists through most of the 1973-82 version's run; Richard Dawson was also a regular from 1973 through 1978. Other frequent panelists from this era included Joyce Bulifant, Bill Daily, Patti Deutsch, Fannie Flagg, Nipsey Russell, Marcia Wallace, and Betty White.

Main game

Two contestants competed to see who could match more celebrities on the six-member panel.

In the first round, the challenger chose one of two questions, which the host posed to the celebrity panel. (A typical question was something like: "He's so dumb... (Audience: "How dumb is he?") ...he thought his teacher was a _____.") The celebrities wrote their answers down on index cards; after all of them were finished, the contestant gave his or her answer, and the host asked each celebrity for his or her answer. The contestant earned one point for each match, up to a total of six points for matching everyone on the panel. After that the returning champion was given the other question and followed the same procedures.

In the second round, whoever was leading the game got to choose a question first. Only the celebrities who did not match that contestant in the first round played. A third round was played on Match Game PM after its first season; again, the only celebrities who played were those who did not match that contestant in previous rounds. Tiebreaker rounds -- during which the scores were reset to 0-0 -- were played if the game was tied after the last round.

Super Match

The winner of the game won $100 and went on to play the Super Match, which consisted of the Audience Match and the Head-to-Head Match, for additional money.

Audience Match

A fill-in-the-blank phrase was given, and it was up to the contestant to choose the most common response based on a studio audience survey. After consulting with three celebrities on the panel for help, the contestant had to choose an answer. The answers were revealed after that; the most popular answer in the survey was worth $500, the second-most popular $250, and the third most popular $100.

Two Audience Matches were played on Match Game PM.

The Audience Match became the basis for another game show from the Match Game production team of Mark Goodson and Bill Todman -- Family Feud. Match Game regular Richard Dawson was chosen to host that show.

Head-to-Head Match

The contestant then had the opportunity to win ten times what he or she won in the Audience Match by exactly matching another fill-in-the-blank response with a celebrity panelist of his or her choice.

Richard Dawson was the most frequently chosen celebrity in the 1970s version, so much so that in 1978 the "Star Wheel" was introduced; contestants spun the wheel to determine which celebrity they played with. They could double their potential winnings if the spin ended on one of the stars on the wheel ($10,000 was the top prize in the daytime version; with the two audience matches on Match Game PM, a jackpot of up to $20,000 was possible there).

Versions outside the USA

The format has been sold overseas. In the United Kingdom it is known as Blankety Blank and has been presented by Terry Wogan, Les Dawson and Lily Savage.

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