"Get ready to match the stars!" Named GSN
's "Greatest Game Show of All Time," Match Game
redefined the term "game show" in the early 1970s. Produced by game show greats Mark Goodson and Bill Todman, Match Game
was an overhauled revival of The Match Game
, another Goodson-Todman show that ran on NBC from 1962-1969, and was hosted by Gene Rayburn. Since Goodson and Todman had a hit with another "overhauled revival" show, The New Price Is Right
, a year earlier on CBS, they looked to relaunch Match Game
in 1973 on the same network, with the same host, only with an almost completely different format.
Two contestants (a challenger and a returning champion, usually) played against each other. The champion was represented by the red circle and the challenger was represented by the green triangle. Their aim was to try to match the responses of a panel of six celebrities to fill-in-the-blank statements read aloud by host Rayburn. (Originally, the questions were similar to the fill-in-the-blank statements on The Match Game
of the 1960s, yet later on, producer Dick DeBartolo provided slightly more bawdy and risqué questions with double-entendres as the aim.) The contestants had a choice of two statements marked "A" or "B." After two to three rounds, whoever matched the most panelists won. (The maximum number of matches either player could get was six.) In the event of a tie, a tiebreaker round was played.
After the main game, the winner went on to play the Super-Match. It started out with the Audience Match, a feature carried over from the original The Match Game
. A studio audience of 100 people had been polled on their best response to a simple fill-in-the-blank phrase (i.e.; "_____ Cup"); the top three answers were displayed below the phrase. The most popular answer was worth $500, the second most popular was worth $250, and the third $100. Three of the six celebrities were allowed to help by providing what they thought would work; the contestant could either choose one of their answers or choose one of his/her own. If they got any answer on the board, the bonus round continued; if not, it ended. The contestant then went on to the Head-to-Head Match to play for 10x the amount they won in the Audience Match. The contestant and a celebrity panelist both thought up their best response to another fill-in-the-blank phrase, this time read by Rayburn and not shown. After the celebrity wrote his/her answer down, the contestant said what they thought the celebrity said. If they matched, they won. Originally, the contestants could choose who they wanted to play with; because of so many people picking panelist Richard Dawson, in 1978 the Star Wheel was brought in. Contestants now spun the wheel to pick their celebrity. If they landed on a gold star placed above the celebrity's name, they had the chance to win double the amount they were playing for.
Originally, CBS had major doubts about the show's success; but after the tone of Rayburn's questions changed considerably into more risqué humor-laden fodder, ratings began to spike. The hilarious interaction between Rayburn and the panelists (as well as the contestants) also made Match Game '73
(the title had annual numerical updates until 1979) a household name in the 1970s. The show's most famous panelists were the bickering male-female regular pair of Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly. Future Family Feud
host Richard Dawson also joined in the fun; he was one of the first panelists on the show and lasted until 1978.
After Richard Dawson left, ratings began to drop, until finally CBS pulled the plug on Match Game
in 1979. However, the syndicated version, which premiered that same year, kept the show going strong until its cancellation in 1982. The show has had several revivals since then: the first, The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour
, attempted to pair the show with another long-running game show favorite, The Hollywood Squares
, but only lasted a year. A stand-alone revival, simply titled Match Game
, premiered on ABC in 1990 and left the airwaves in 1991. A third revival
premiered in 1998 but was quickly canned. The 1970s versions of Match Game
currently air on the Game Show Network/GSN.