To Tell The Truth (lost first season of syndicated panel show; 1969-1970)
To Tell the Truth is an American panel-style game show created by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. The show's basic format features a panel of four celebrities, who must guess which one of three contestants is in fact the (usually also famous, but not recognizable as such) person they are all claiming to be. The panel asks questions of all three claimants and gauges the authenticity of their answers.
It first premiered on CBS on December 18, 1956 hosted by Superman voice actor Bud Collyer, and has had many revivals since. The current version debuted on ABC in June 2016 and is hosted by actor Anthony Anderson. Previous versions have been seen in reruns since 1994 on various cable channels, and a large number of episodes survive.
The syndicated version that aired from September 8, 1969 to September 7, 1978 is perhaps the best known incarnation. It is also known for its wide variety of quirky contestants including "Jesus Christ, Superstar" lyricist Tim Rice, Marvel Comics artist Stan Lee and con man Frank Abagnale Jr. While many episodes from this incarnation survive and can be viewed today, no episodes from this version's first season have resurfaced.
Background[edit | edit source]
The show's run on CBS ended on September 6, 1968 after 12 years on the network in both primetime and daytime. Ratings had been declining, and meanwhile CBS's president of daytime programming Fred Silverman was in the process of getting rid of game shows altogether in favor of extending soap operas to 45 minutes. Just three days later, another Goodson & Todman production, "What's My Line?" (which had ended its run on CBS a year earlier) premiered in syndication to high ratings. This success convinced the producers to also revive To Tell the Truth for syndication.
The show was to return to its original format, rolling back late changes that had contributed to its ratings decline. However Bud Collyer turned down the offer to return, citing declining health. Garry Moore (who hosted "I've Got a Secret" from the same producers) was ultimately chosen to host the show. Collyer died on the same day the new version premiered. The new, syndicated To Tell the Truth became a ratings success, and an important part of television history.
Availability[edit | edit source]
All versions of the show were first rerun on the Game Show Network in 1994, and became a staple of its programming. Episodes of the syndicated version generally became hard to find once GSN stopped airing it after 2009, with only home recordings surfacing until October 2018, when Buzzr added it to their schedule. As of September 2021, this version is still being reran on Buzzr.
The first season of the syndicated show remains the only one never to be shown on Game Show Network or Buzzr - for unknown reasons, since the show is confirmed to exist in its entirety. Little is known of the first season outside of the premiere date and the panel & guests for each episode; a few further details of the premiere episode survive in reviews. According to TTTTontheweb.com:
"From its opening moments with the psychedelic set and rock music score, the 1969 premiere set itself apart from its staid CBS predecessor. But it was really only after the first game -- when Garry Moore demonstrated adding water to dehydrated food and accidentally used the wrong end of a water dispenser, then mugged his way out of the predicament -- that it was clear this "TTTT" was determined to be more fun than the original series in both form and content."
As of the writing of this article, no footage, screenshots or audio from season one have been found.