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“Will the real … please stand up”.
Contestants on To Tell the Truth were introduced in threes. Each of the three purported to be the same individual. Following the introduction, emcee Bud Collyer would read an affidavit describing the life, activities, and/or unique experiences of the person whom all the contestants claimed to be.
Through a series of question-and-answer rounds, a celebrity panel of four must determine which of the guests was telling the truth.
Two people could tell untruthful answers, while the person described had to tell the truth to questions asked by the panellists who had to decide which one was “real”.
Cash prizes were awarded to the players based on the number of incorrect guesses on the part of the panel.
The series ran in primetime from December 1956 to May 1967 and on CBS daytime from June 1962 to September 1968.
Bud Collyer was the original host. Panellists included Kitty Carlisle, Polly Bergen, Hy Gardner, Hildy Parks and Ralph Bellamy.
Two of the regular panellists who were with the show when it left CBS in 1968 – Kitty Carlisle and Peggy Cass – practically made careers out of To Tell the Truth. In the fall of 1969, it turned up in syndication with the two of them and Bill Cullen as regular panellists. They remained with the syndicated version until it left the air in 1977.
Garry Moore was the emcee until the last year, with Joe Garagiola taking over at the end.
Yet another syndicated version was produced during the 1980-1981 season with young Robin Ward as emcee, but without Carlisle and Cass.
NBC brought To Tell the Truth back as a daytime entry in the fall of 1990, with Gordon Elliott as emcee. Because of other contractual obligations, Elliott had to leave the series soon after its premiere, with former pro-football player Lynn Swann taking over.
Swann was still emceeing when it left the air the following May. Actor John O’Hurley emceed a syndicated revival that premiered in the fall of 2000 and ran for two seasons.