Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour

The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour is an American television panel game show that combined two panel games of the 1960s and 1970s – Match Game and Hollywood Squares – into an hour-long format.

The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour
Match Game - Hollywood Squares Hour.jpg
Created byMark Goodson, Bill Todman, Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley
Based onMatch Game
Hollywood Squares
Directed byMarc Breslow[1]
Presented byGene Rayburn (Match Game segments)
Jon Bauman
(Hollywood Squares segment)
Narrated byGene Wood
ComposerEdd Kalehoff[1]
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes192
ProducerRobert Sherman[1]
Production locationsNBC Studios
Burbank, California
Running timeapprox. 44 Minutes
Production companiesMark Goodson Television Productions
Orion Television
DistributorMGM Worldwide Television
Fremantle North America
Original networkNBC
Original releaseOctober 31, 1983 (1983-10-31) –
July 27, 1984 (1984-07-27)

The series ran from October 31, 1983 to July 27, 1984 on NBC.[2] Gene Rayburn reprised his role as host of the Match Game and Super Match segments, while Jon "Bowzer" Bauman hosted the Hollywood Squares segment. Gene Wood was the show's regular announcer with Johnny Olson and Rich Jeffries substituting during the run.

The series was credited as a Mark Goodson Television Production. Orion Television, then-owners of the Hollywood Squares format rights, licensed the format to Goodson.


Match GameEdit

For the Match Game portion of the show, two new contestants played a 1970s-style competition with a six-person panel consisting of Bauman and five other celebrities. The game-play format was the one used on the syndicated Match Game PM. Rayburn read a humorous fill-in-the-blank question, and each celebrity wrote down a response. Once all the responses were in, the contestant answered verbally and scored one point for each celebrity matched. Three rounds were played, with each contestant having one turn per round and matched celebrities not playing subsequent questions. A coin toss was used to determine which contestant started the first round, and the leader at the end of each round started the next one. If either of the first two rounds ended in a tie, the contestant who did not start the previous round played first in the next one.

The contestant with the higher final score advanced to play Hollywood Squares, while the loser was eliminated. In case of a tie, a modified version of the Match Game PM tiebreaker was used, with Rayburn reading a short item (example: "_____, New Jersey"). The difference was that instead of writing their answers on a card, the contestants were secretly shown four numbered options (examples: "Atlantic City", "Hoboken", "Newark", "Trenton"). Each contestant chose one option by number, with the first choice determined by random draw, after which Rayburn read the question to the panel and polled them, one at a time. The first contestant whose chosen answer matched any panel member won the game.

Hollywood SquaresEdit

The Hollywood Squares half of the show pitted the Match Game winner against the previous day's champion.

For Squares, three more celebrities joined the panel along with Rayburn, who took Bauman's seat at bottom left. A third tier of the panel set swung into place to accommodate the new panelists, and the celebrity who was already sitting in the top center seat for Match Game became the center square. As on the original Squares, contestants took turns attempting to claim squares on a tic-tac-toe board. The contestant in control chose a celebrity, who answered a question from Bauman. A contestant claimed a celebrity's square by correctly agreeing or disagreeing with the answer. A miss awarded it to the opponent. The first contestant to get three of his/her own symbol in a row (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) or capture five squares won the game.

There were several differences in game play compared to the original Squares. Here, the champion always played "X" and the opponent "O", regardless of the sex of the contestants. This has been the only version of Squares not to use the traditional "Mr. X" or "M(r)s. Circle" distinction. Each individual square earned was worth $25. The first game was worth $100, and the value increased by $100 for each subsequent game. No "Secret Square" was played in this version. Most questions asked were of the true/false or multiple choice variety.

The most significant rule change involved winning a game. On all versions of Squares before and since, if a contestant missed a question on a square that the opponent needed for a win, control would simply pass back to the opponent and they would have to earn the square on their own. This version of Squares eliminated that rule, enabling a contestant to win a game on an opponent's error.

The contestants played as many games as time allowed, with the champion starting the first game and the loser of each game starting the next one. When the final bell rang, the contestant in the lead became the day's champion and joined Rayburn on stage to play the Super Match bonus round. Both contestants kept any money they earned in this segment. In the event of a tie, the board was cleared and the contestant who did not play last chose one star. The contestant won an additional $25 and the match by correctly agreeing or disagreeing with the star's answer to Bauman's question. If the contestant failed, the opponent won.

Super MatchEdit

The champion played for a grand prize of up to $30,000 in the Super Match, whose rules were nearly identical to the 1973–82 version of Match Game, but with Bauman and all eight of the other celebrities as panelists.

The round began with the Audience Match, in which the champion tried to match one of the three most popular responses given by a previous studio audience to a short phrase such as "Trading ______ ." The champion was allowed to call on any three celebrities for help, and could either use one of their responses or offer one of his/her own. The three most popular responses awarded $1,000, $500, and $250 in descending order. If the champion failed to match any of these responses, the round did not end as on previous versions of Match Game, and the contestant received $100.

Next, in the Head-to-Head Match, the champion attempted to match against one celebrity of his/her choice. The Star Wheel was not used. Each celebrity held a secret multiplier number (four 10's, four 20's, one 30), which was hidden behind a card at his/her seat. The chosen celebrity revealed the hidden number, Rayburn read another short phrase, and the celebrity wrote down a response. The champion then stated an answer verbally. If it was an exact match to the written response, the contestant won an additional cash prize equal to the Audience Match value multiplied by the celebrity's number.

Regardless of the end result of the Super Match, the champion would return on the next episode to play Hollywood Squares against that day's Match Game winner. Champions remained on the show until they either lost to a challenger or played the Super Match five times. If a champion retired, a contestant was chosen at random to fill the "X" position on the next day's Squares segment.

Broadcast historyEdit

The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour debuted on October 31, 1983 at 3:00 PM in the Eastern time zone (2:00 PM in the Central and Pacific time zones and 1:00 PM in the Mountain time zone) on NBC. Both Match Game and Hollywood Squares had been aired on NBC, with (The) Match Game (albeit with different rules) airing from 1962 to 1969 and (The) Hollywood Squares airing from 1966 to 1980.

The show's only regular panelists were the co-hosts. Bauman sat on the panel during Match Game and the Super Match, while Rayburn took his place during Hollywood Squares. The most frequent semi-regular panelist was actress Nedra Volz, who appeared for nine weeks, followed closely by Mr. Smith star Leonard Frey and returning Match Game regular Charles Nelson Reilly, who each appeared for seven weeks. Several of the panelists were previously regulars or semi-regulars on Match Game, including Fannie Flagg (who appeared four weeks), McLean Stevenson, Marcia Wallace, Fred Travalena and Bill Daily. Bauman himself, as Bowzer, had also previously appeared on Match Game. George Gobel, who appeared two weeks, and Abby Dalton, who appeared two weeks, were the only Hollywood Squares regulars to ever appear on the program.

Following the practice of both parent shows, the same group of eight celebrity guests appeared on an entire week of episodes. Five were introduced at the start of the episode to play Match Game. At the end of that segment, the remaining three emerged onstage for Hollywood Squares. Aside from Rayburn and Bauman, the panelists rotated so that different groups of three played only Squares from one day to the next.

Cast members of other NBC series often appeared on the show. It was also a starting point for new, unknown, and up-and-coming stars who would go on to greater fame, such as Jay Leno and Arsenio Hall (both of which would become successes as late-night talk show hosts). Game show hosts also appeared on the show, including Bill Cullen, Bob Eubanks, Pat Sajak, Bill Rafferty, and Chuck Woolery (who promoted Scrabble during the week before it premiered). The cast of Leave It to Beaver was reunited for one week at the end of 1983, while a week in May 1984 featured NBC soap opera stars. Other special weeks in 1984 featured the casts of Too Close for Comfort and St. Elsewhere, as well as a salute to the 1950s with movie/television stars from that decade.

The series went up against the highly-rated soap operas General Hospital and Guiding Light in its time slot. Near the end of its run, NBC announced plans to begin production of the Dobson Productions-created soap opera Santa Barbara, which would result in the show's cancellation. The final episode of the series aired on July 27, 1984.


Original Squares host Peter Marshall, in his autobiography, states that he expected to be asked to host the Hollywood Squares portion once he heard that they had secured Rayburn's participation, but he was never approached. He also admitted having some schadenfreude at the show's cancellation, saying: "I kind of hate to admit that I was happy when it didn't even last one season."[3]

This version of Hollywood Squares was the last to air on a broadcast network. In 1986, a syndicated revival aired for three years with John Davidson as host. A further revival, hosted by Tom Bergeron, aired in syndication from 1998 to 2004. A hip hop-themed series based on the format, Hip Hop Squares, aired on MTV2 in 2012, and was revived for VH1 in 2017. A fourth spinoff, this one focusing primarily on country music, Nashville Squares, debuted on CMT in 2019.[4] This was in addition to several parodies and one-offs of varying degrees of official endorsement. Howard Stern's version, Homeless Howiewood Squares, included Rayburn reprising his role as a regular panelist.

Match Game did not return to the airwaves until a revival on ABC in 1990, with Ross Shafer as host. Match Game was again revived in 1998, hosted by Michael Burger. Each lasted one season. Match Game was used as one of the semifinal games in CBS' Summer 2006 airing of Game $how Marathon hosted by Ricki Lake. A version of the show produced in Canada aired for two seasons beginning in 2012, and a prime time version on ABC debuted in 2016 with Alec Baldwin as host.

Rayburn went on to host two more game shows: Break the Bank (from which he was fired after 13 weeks) and the short-lived game The Movie Masters for AMC from 1989 to 1990. Bauman, whose only other hosting credit was the concurrent The Pop 'N Rocker Game, has not hosted another game show since.


Prior to 2019, the program had never been re-broadcast due to cross-ownership issues between MGM (Orion’s successor and copyright owner for Hollywood Squares episodes produced until 1989), Fremantle (Goodson/Todman’s successor), CBS Media Ventures (successor to King World Productions and current rightsholder to the show's format since 1991 and episodes produced since 1998)[5] and the distribution agents originally responsible for the original NBC run until Fremantle's digital multicast network, Buzzr, aired four episodes (the Tuesday-Friday shows of premiere week) on February 17, 2019. Buzzr also mentioned that they will be working on digitizing and cleaning up the original master tapes in order to get the show on their regular schedule later in the year. Fremantle noted that the addition was being done for two reasons: to increase the number of Match Game episodes available for the network to rerun, and to add some form of Hollywood Squares (which the network does not own) onto the channel's lineup.[6] Former host Bauman wrote on Twitter,[7] "Understand that this was the only completely honest version of Hwd Squares ever where no Squares were sitting there with the punch lines of the jokes in front of them."

On September 12, 2019, it was reported that Buzzr's new primetime lineup would feature the show, starting September 30.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Schwartz, David; Ryan, Steve; Wostbrock, Fred (1999). The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows (3 ed.). Facts on File, Inc. pp. 139–140. ISBN 0-8160-3846-5.
  2. ^ McNeil, Alex (1996). Total television: the comprehensive guide to programming from 1948 to the present. Penguin Books. p. 531. ISBN 9780140249163.
  3. ^ Marshall, Peter; Armstrong, Adrienne (July 17, 2002). Backstage with the original Hollywood square. Thomas Nelson Inc. ISBN 9781418566005.
  4. ^ Donnelly, Matthew Scott (October 4, 2019). "TV Nashville Squares Ready to Turn Country Icons Into Comedy Kings + Queens". CMT. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  5. ^ ""CMT's Nashville Squares" Hosted By Comedian Bob Saget To Premiere on Friday, November 1st at 8p/7c". The Country Note. October 4, 2019. Retrieved October 21, 2019. “CMT’s Nashville Squares” is executive produced by Jesse Collins and Dionne Harmon from Jesse Collins Entertainment (also “VH1’s Hip Hop Squares”). Neal Konstantini serves as executive producer/show runner. The series is directed by Ivan Dudynsky. Candida Boyette-Clemons and Trevor Rose are executive producers for CMT with Leslie Fram as executive-in-charge of music. The (Hollywood Squares) format is licensed from CBS Television Distribution.
  6. ^ Adalian, Josef (February 1, 2019). "Holy [Blank]: The Long-Lost Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour Returns to TV After 35-Year Absence". Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  7. ^ "Jon "Bowzer" Bauman on Twitter".
  8. ^ "TVMoJoe on Twitter".

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