What the _________ is this Match Game page all about?
A couple of times a month folks who are addicted to the old game shows on GSN (The Game Show Network) and who watch the credits at the end, e-mail me. They ask if I'm any relation to the Dick DeBartolo whose name appears on the credits of the old Match Game shows. No, it's no relation, it's me. I wrote questions for The Match Game for about 20 years. Credits on the Match Game were only run once a week. So four out of every five Match Game shows do not have credits.
In case you didn't see the GSN Special "The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blank", here's a bit of history. I was hired to write the Match Game back in early fall of 1961 about 3 months before the show went on the air. During pre-production the set was designed, the rules of the game were worked out and I started to create batches of Match Game questions. When Match Game first went on the air, New Year Eve, 1961, the questions were pretty 'quiet'. There were easy to answer things such as:
Name a red flower.
Name something you can make with a potato.
Name a President whose face appears on money.
Name something you can do with an egg.
Pretty exciting stuff, huh? Toward the end of the first year, Match Game was cancelled. Mark Goodson called me into his office and told me there were six weeks of shows left to do, but that after they were done, production would stop. The option to carry over into a second year was not picked up by NBC.
After thinking about Match Game's demise over the weekend, I came back to Goodson-Todman Productions Monday morning and set up a meeting with head honco, Mark Goodson. I told him I worked for MAD Magazine and I had being thinking about bringing a 'MAD approach' to the questions. I suggested we try some silly questions. Mark asked to hear an example of one, and I read him this:
Mary like to pour gravy on John's______.
That was the first silly Match Game question I ever wrote. Goodson laughed and said: "what will people answer?" I told him they would most likely laugh like he did and then give acceptable answers like meatloaf, turkey, potatoes, etc. Goodson said: "Well the show's cancelled and has just six weeks to run. So do all the silly questions you want." Then he added: "The show's already cancelled, so NBC can't cancel it twice!"
On the very next show we started mixing in the new off-beat questions with the regular ones. The audience liked them a lot and the ratings started to pick up. Even before the six weeks of production was up Goodson called me in to say the ratings had improved and that the network had picked up Match Game for another season! Going silly and adding a bit of double entendre questions gave the show a new life. One that lasted about 20 years, with three different reincarnations. And who ever dreamed, that thanks to the Game Show Network, The Match Game would live on, even today. The last time I spoke to someone from the GSN they told me Match Game was their most watched show!
Do you get residuals from those endless reruns of the old Match Game shows?
Well the answer is technically yes. I got residuals just once. When the shows first went over to the Game Show Network I got two checks. I remember hearing that some money would be forth coming. When the checks arrived I thought: "Wow, this is going to be like found money!" But it wasn't quite that way. One check was for $1.12. Yep, $1.12! I thought that might at least be a weekly event, but it turned out to be the ONLY check I ever got for Match Game re-runs!
I also worked on Family Feud, writing questions. Family Feud was really a spin-off from the Match Game and another Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Production. I didn't work quite so many years on Family Feud so my check for reruns of that show was only $.28. Yes, twenty-eight cents!
As you can image, I never cashed them. They were worth more as something to show friends 'my windfall', so they remain uncashed more than 10 years later. Not like they could be cashed now anyway.
It was fun writing the Match Game all those years, but it would have been much more fun today if I had I gotten just a bit more from the re-runs, the DVD's, the plug and play games, the foreign editions of Match Game and the other Match Game stuff. Oh, well, what the ______!
On the right,
Geraldo Rivera, Gene Rayburn and myself.
I was thrilled when the producer of the Geraldo show called and said they were going to do a special program saluting all the old game shows. They asked if I would be available to come on stage as a surprise guest for Gene. I thought it was a great idea! It was wonderful that someone acknowledged everything that Gene did to make The Match Game a huge success for almost 20 years!
Gene and I kept in touch over the years after the Match Game went off the air. Not being on the air was difficult for Gene. And I know it really broke his heart when they brought the Match Game back with a new, younger host. He just loved doing the show!
This is what your 3 Match Game questions will look like. They're in a plastic sleeve and the last card will be one of the 1st 200 MG questions ever written! I'll autograph the bottom one.
So Dick, how can I own a small piece of history?
I'm so glad you asked! 'm making up small Match Game souvenir packages consisting of three 30 to
40 year old Match Game questions in a plastic sleeve. A perfect gift for
anyone who was a fan of the old Match Game. If you're interested each 3
question set cost $29.99. In the same envelope will be an autographed copy of MAD
Magazine or a MAD Special, my other career I continued writing for every issue of MAD while
writing the Match Game. Postage in the US is $4.99 for first class mail. But
that's what your free copy of MAD of would cost, so postage is sorta, kinda like
IMPORTANT IF YOU LIVE IN
Unfortunately I just filled out a Post Office form for
an address in Canada and discovered the postage is $9.65. So if you live in
Canada and you'd like a set, email and I'll send you an PayPal invoice for
$29.99 and $9.65 postage. If you want more than one set to the same address in
Canada, it's still one charge of $9.65 for postage up to three sets in one
envelope. I'm not doing any orders outside the US and Canada. Even though Match
Game was on in 5 countries, it's mainly a North American thing. Thank God for
the Game Show Network keeping it alive.