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  • Series Premiere Date: Jun 25, 1973
Season #: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
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  • Summary: This is the classic version of the ultimate classic game show that most people came to know and love. Originally intended to be simply an expanded CBS-TV remake of the popular 1962-1969 NBC-TV game show called The Star-Studded Big Money Match Game 73 (and it's annual updates) soon grew intoThis is the classic version of the ultimate classic game show that most people came to know and love. Originally intended to be simply an expanded CBS-TV remake of the popular 1962-1969 NBC-TV game show called The Star-Studded Big Money Match Game 73 (and it's annual updates) soon grew into a bonafide, no-holds-barred comedy fest, full of innuendos, double-entendres, pouting celebrities and much more debuts including one as the show's return on June 25-29, 1973 on CBS-TV. Host Gene Rayburn played straight man to the antics of the 6-star panel but frequently aided the fun.

    The game itself was straightforward. 2 contestants that's including a returning champion are competed. The challenger chose 1 of the questions (marked "A" & "B") in 2 rounds (marked "1" & "2") for which Rayburn read the question. While the questions were rather pedestrian early in the run (e.g., "Name a foreign car"), the questions quickly grew wild and wacky. Frequently, the questions involved a recurring list of characters such as Dumb Donald, Weird Willie and Old Man Periwinkle (the latter brilliantly portrayed by Rayburn); celebrities, politicians and news events of the time were also the butt of many of the questions.

    For example: "Wendy the waitress really likes it if you give her good tips. Give her a $10 bill, she'll put a sliced cherry in your drink. Don't tip her and she'll put in a _____."

    It was that blank that the six(6) celebrities separately wrote in on index cards. The contestant then was asked for his/her answer. One by one, Rayburn – who frequently critiqued the contestant's answer (he or she might say "cherry bomb" or "cyanide," which would be the definitive answer, while "dirt" would be a rotten answer) – then the audience critized each celebrity for his or her answer. The player scored 1 point for every match.

    Two rounds were player with the challenger going 1st in the second round of questions (or the champion if the challenger matched all 6 stars); celebrities who matched a player in the first round didn't participate in the second-round question for that contestant. The player in the lead after two rounds wins the game and $100 and played the Big Money Super Match.

    A tie-breaker round was played if necessary with gameplay like as before. If the tie wasn't broken after two(2) tie-breaker rounds, then a sudden-death fill-in-the-blank tiebreaker was played. A fill-in-the-blank phrase (e.g., _____ Bunny) was shown; each player wrote their response and the celebrities were polled from the audience for their answers. The first to match won the game. In the highly unlikely event that both players provided the same answer or there still was not a match, then (after a typical Rayburn comment like, "Gee, we're really doing well, aren't we?") the sudden-death tie-breaker was played again until there was a match. The sudden-death format was used right away for ties in the weekly syndicated Match Game PM (because of time constraints) that started in the 1975-1976 season only regulars Richard Dawson, Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly played.

    The Super Match was played in 2 parts. In the 1st part (dubbed Audience Match), Rayburn read a fill-in-the-blank phrase in which had been given to a previous studio audience of 100 people (e.g., Cookie ______). The contestant asked 3 celebrities 1 at a time for suggested answers after which he or she could choose one or come up with one of his or her own. The three top answers were listed, with the No. 3 choice worth $100, the second-most popular worth $250 and the top choice worth $500.

    If the champion matched one of the top 3 answers, he/she won that amount of money and played the Head-to-Head Match for 10 times their winnings (equals ergo: $1000, $2500 or $5000). The player chose a celebrity, who was given another fill-in-the-blank phrase as before. If there was an exact match, the champion wins the Big Money. Even if the player didn't match, the champion kept his/her Audience Match winnings and faced a new challenger.

    Players returned until defeated or surpassing CBS's $25,000 winnings limit (done just once in March 1979).

    Richard Dawson was initially the only regular Match Game 73 celebrity; Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers became regulars in September 1973. Dawson was far and away the most popular Head-to-Head Match celebrity partner (one history of the show reported he was responsibile for greater than $1 million in the champion's winnings). In 1976 as the show then called Match Game 76 Dawson parlayed his success in the highly-successful ABC-TV run of Family Feud.

    On June 28, 1978...The Star Wheel was added to the Super Match on Match Game 78 which the contestant spun to determine his or her celebrity partner. If the wheel stopped on certain areas of the wheel called the gold star area (designated "double"), the player played for 20 times their Audience Match cash (up to $10,000 on the CBS-TV show; $20,000 on Match Game PM); otherwise, they played for their regular jackpot. Some fans of the show believe the addition of the Star Wheel hastened Dawson's departure from the show on August 23, 1978 and though that's purely speculation.

    Match Game 73 as fans came to know, had many classic moments during its 7 Season run on CBS-TV (too many to list here). The show also spawned a successful syndicated entry (the once-a-week Match Game PM, which offered even higher cash prizes). After the CBS-TV show (and then called Match Game 79) ended its run on April 20, 1979. 5 Months later it continued its life as a 5-day-a-week entry on September 10-14, 1979 that series continued through September 10, 1982.

    A short-lived pairing with The Hollywood Squares in 1983-1984 on NBC-TV plus 2 self-contained revivals (ABC-TV in 1990-1991 and Syndicated TV in 1998-1999), soon followed. None managed to recapture the audience (or particularly in the latter version, the magic) of the one-of-a-kind original. Reruns of the classic Match Game 73 have perpetually been among the highest-rated shows on Game Show Network (now GSN).

    June 25-December 31, 1973 at 3:30-4:00pm on CBS-TV
    MATCH GAME 74:
    January 2-December 31, 1974 at 3:30-4:00pm on CBS-TV
    MATCH GAME 75:
    January 2-August 15, 1975 at 3:30-4:00pm on CBS-TV
    August 18-November 28, 1975 at 3:00-3:30pm on CBS-TV
    December 1-31, 1975 at 3:30-4:00pm on CBS-TV
    January 2-December 31, 1976 at 3:30-4:00pm on CBS-TV
    January 3-November 4, 1977 at 3:30-4:00pm on CBS-TV
    November 7-December 16, 1977 at 11:00-11:30am on CBS-TV
    December 19, 1977-January 3, 1978 at 4:00-4:30pm on CBS-TV
    January 4, 1978-January 2, 1979 at 4:00-4:30pm on CBS-TV MATCH GAME 79
    January 3-April 20, 1979 at 4:00-4:30pm on CBS-TV.

    Syndicated on every TV Market from September 10, 1979 to September 10, 1982 and Distributed By JIM VICTORY TELEVISION, INC.

    "MATCH GAME 73-79" is A MARK GOODSON-BILL TODMAN PRODUCTION in association with The CBS-TV Network.
  • Genre(s): Comedy, Game Show
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