Welcome to Wiser Now’s weekly email blast which reflects my eclectic interests and, I hope, yours. During the early days of television, most shows premiered in September, so it’s no surprise that September is TV Premiere Month. This WNW features excerpts from the Wiser now slide show, The Funny Side of Nostalgia TV. Pictured: The original Zoom image: “Hollywood Squares” set.

I hope you are finding these offerings fun, and perhaps even useful, and I welcome your feedback. ( And if you haven’t yet pressed the subscribe button so this newsletter doesn’t go to spam, please do so now.


The Quirky Quote
Frank Lloyd Wright called television “chewing gum for the eyes.” Groucho Marx said it was an impetus for learning: “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

The Quirky Fact

The original Tonight Show starred Steve Allen and had its premiere on September 27, 1954, but the Johnny Carson version which began in the fall of 1962 and allowed him to tuck viewers into bed with a smile for almost 30 years has the larger nostalgia factor. One of Johnny’s most famous creations (copied from Steve Allen) was Carnac the Magnificent who would provide the answers to questions before the question was revealed. Here is an example:

     Answer: Sis Boom Bah.
     Question: What sound does a sheep make when it explodes?

The Quirky Observation

“Hollywood Squares” had its premiere in 1966 and ran for 15 years with Peter Marshall as the host for both the daytime and evening versions. It was modeled after the game of tic-tac-toe, with celebrities sitting in the nine squares, and two players vying for three in a row. But the main purpose of the game was to generate laughter. Paul Lynde was the most outrageous of the celebrities, frequently giving answers that were off-color and politically incorrect (although we didn’t worry about that as much in the 1960s and 70s). The websites which offer samples of the banter feature mostly responses that are frankly unsuitable for this family-friendly publication, but I won’t stop you from looking here. Following is a classic Paul Lynde response:

Peter Marshall: When you pat a dog on its head he will usually wag his tail. What will a goose do?
Paul Lynde: Make him bark.

The Question
What old TV shows provide the happiest memories for you? Have you been able to find online videos of them? I smile thinking of an old Jack Benny Show that featured a troupe of roller-skating penguins and Jack’s deadpan reaction, but I have never been able to find proof it happened. (And in retrospect, it seems a bit cruel.)

Featured Product
The Funny Side of Nostalgia TV is certain to conjure happy memories with its focus on funny TV programs, mostly from the 1950s and 60s. It includes:

  • 3 Trivia quizzes related to many early situation comedies and their stars, plus trivia quizzes on “Happy Days,” “Get Smart,” and TV pilot premises that didn’t fly
  • Discussions on “Burns and Allen,” “Hollywood Squares,” “Candid Camera,” and “Johnny Carson”

I bet you’re smiling already. Order it now!

The Quiz 
The TV show “Get Smart,” premiered September 18, 1965. It was a spoof created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry on secret agent/cold war spying. It starred Don Adams as the bungling Maxwell Smart, AKA Agent 86 and Barbara Feldon as his patient and more competent sidekick, Agent 99. One of the shows primary running gags in the pre-cordless, pre-cell phone, and certainly pre-smart phone 1960s was a hidden phone, starting with the one concealed in his shoe. Since Smart had to take off his shoe and hold it up to his ear to talk, it was hardly inconspicuous, but used for hilarious effect, nevertheless. 

Perhaps less likely to be remembered was that telephones were concealed in over 50 other objects on the show. The following quiz is an excerpt from a longer version in The Funny Side of Nostalgia TV.

Can you tell the one place where a phone wasn’t hidden?

comb ___               magazine ___
watch ___              garden hose ___
clock ___               car cigarette lighter ___
necktie ___            microwave oven ___
belt ___                  painting of a telephone ___
handkerchief ___   headboard of his bed ___
wallet ___              sandwich ___
as a tiny phone inside of another full-sized working phone ___
Doesn’t it make you curious to see reruns?

Answer at the end of this document.

The Shameless Request

Please share Wiser Now Wednesday with anyone you think might be interested, and if you represent an organization that would like a customized version, please send me a note at


Answer to Quiz

microwave oven – They weren’t yet in common use.
My multiple goals are to amuse and inspire you, to share what I and people whom I admire am doing, to stimulate your curiosity and spur you to action. I hope you enjoyed this offering. You can access previous issues here. We welcome your feedback. (
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Copyright (c) 2019 Kathy Laurenhue | All rights reserved.

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