Doug Gets The Book On The Original Squares

I’ve been spending parts of this weekend reading Backstage with the Original Hollywood Square by Peter Marshall, original host of The Hollywood Squares for a decade and a half.

I haven’t read it from cover to cover. I’ve been skipping back and forth because there were a few curiosities I had after I bought the book…

\Was Peter even offered a co-host position on The Match Game – Hollywood Squares Hour on NBC in 1983?

\Was he considered to helm the revival of standalone Squares in ’86?

The answer to both — a resounding no.

If you remember The Match Game – Hollywood Squares Hour — or as many on the alt.tv.game-shows newsgroup call it, MG-HSH — you remember it for its awesome theme that you sometimes still hear on CBS’ The Price is Right (the production company’s responsible for both — and was famous for recycling themes after another certain show was cancelled) — as well as the spectacular light display and set. You also, depending on your perspective, remember it for Jon Bauman hosting the Squares portion of the show.

And you were probably thinking MG-HSH just replaced Fantasy on the NBC schedule — and one of the co-hosts of that show was Peter Marshall. Certainly he’d be available. Why Bauman over Marshall?

Replacing a Peter Marshall hosted show with a game show including celebrities and tic-tac-toe without Marshall’s involvment probably turned off a lot of viewers to start. If Peter wasn’t approached, was he even considered?

If not, shame on those who tapped Bauman. MatchGame.org notes Peter appeared as a guest on Match Game for two weeks’ worth of episodes, albeit not consecutively, during MG‘s weekday syndication years (1979-1982; after a memorable six-year run on CBS). Ironically, MatchGame.org also noted Bauman, who you probably better know as Bowzer from Sha Na Na, was among the MG crazies for three weeks — again, not consecutively. Peter’s book and ClassicSquares.com points out Gene was a guest in the original Squares grid.

One would think Gene and Peter got along great when each appeared on each others’ shows — and the same could be said when the cameras were off. Reportedly, the same could not be said for Gene and Bowzer on MG-HSH.

As for the ’86 revival, sans Match Game, Peter was in his mid-50s by then. Certainly not “too old”. A 66-year-old Bill Cullen finished up a two-year stint — and in the process, his career — hosting The Joker’s Wild in ’86. But again, no call to Master Marshall. Instead, the gig went to John Davidson, still a link to the original Squares since he appeared in the grid of nine numerous times. But, the show was riddled with gags that slowed the game down and this revival was off the air after three years.

But, getting back to the book. Entertaining read so far– despite the fact the books a little low on text throughout its 200 or so pages. It’s filled with several photos from the show and even includes a CD of “zingers”. I can only assume this is a reissue of the old Zingers from The Hollywood Squares album.

Since I haven’t read the whole thing, I can’t give the usual “Doug Dissects” rating yet. But, I’m sure this will look nice next to my copy of Wink Martindale’s and Betty White’s autobiographies.

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