Open main menu

The Name's the Same was an American game show produced by Goodson-Todman for the ABC television network from December 5, 1951 to August 31, 1954, followed by a run from October 25, 1954 to October 7, 1955.

The Name's the Same
The Name's the Same-Robert Q Lewis and Dagmar.jpg
Host Robert Q. Lewis with celebrity guest Dagmar, 1952
Directed byJerome Schnur
Herbert Hirschman
Presented byRobert Q. Lewis
Dennis James
Bob Elliott & Ray Goulding[1]
Clifton Fadiman
Narrated byLee Vines[2]
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons4
Producer(s)Mark Goodson
Bill Todman
Running time24–25 minutes
Original networkABC
Original releaseDecember 5, 1951 –
October 7, 1955

It was alternately sponsored by Swanson and Johnson Wax for the majority of its run. It was also sponsored by the Bendix home appliance division of Avco early in its run,[3] and Clorets and Chicken of the Sea tuna midway through its run. The shows second run sponsor, Ralston Purina,[4] also sponsored Ethel and Albert, the program that replaced The Name's the Same on the ABC schedule.



Robert Q. Lewis was the original "host and moderator" from December 5, 1951 to August 31, 1954. During three separate personal vacation breaks, in 1953 and 1954, Conrad Nagel, Brian Aherne and Clifton Fadiman substituted for Lewis. After Lewis' final show, where he implied the shows future was in doubt, The Name's the Same went on hiatus, giving Lewis more time to devote to his daytime variety shows on CBS which Swanson decided to sponsor in place of this show.[5] (Announcer Lee Vines continued with Lewis on CBS.)

The Name's the Same returned on October 25 with a new set and Ralston Purina joined as the sponsor. During this 39-week run the moderators changed three times. Dennis James hosted for 18 weeks, through April 4; Bob and Ray shared the moderators duties for 10 weeks, from April 11 to June 21; Clifton Fadiman returned to the emcee's chair on June 28, hosting for 11 weeks through the final episode on October 7.


The only panelist to remain for the shows entire run was New York-based actress and socialite Joan Alexander. The original two co-panelists with Alexander were comic Abe Burrows and composer Meredith Willson. Burrows left the show in November 1952, a victim of the Red Scare[6] and comedian Jerry Lester took his seat, followed by comedian Carl Reiner on April 14, 1953. Willson stayed on until July 1953, and his place on the panel was taken by ABC sportscaster Bill Stern. On September 15, 1953, Reiner left and Alexander and Stern were joined by New York radio personality Gene Rayburn.

On February 9, 1954, the panels makeup was adjusted and Bess Myerson, Miss America 1945, was added to the panel to replace Bill Stern and a fourth panelist was added to the game. That fourth panelist was originally Sherlock Holmes portrayer Basil Rathbone, but he left on April 6 and was replaced by Texaco Star Theater regular Arnold Stang. Stang then left on May 18 and was replaced by humorist Roger Price, who stayed on until the final episode.

In January 1955, Rayburn and Meyerson left the panel and were replaced by The Jackie Gleason Show's Audrey Meadows and New York Herald Tribune columnist and future To Tell The Truth regular Hy Gardner. Gardner was replaced by actor Walter Slezak in March 1955, who in turn left in July due to a time slot switch. Mike Wallace, then a fledgling journalist, took over as the last permanent panelist.

Many familiar faces of the era were guest panelists, including Bill Cullen, Morey Amsterdam, Dane Clark and Hans Conried and Cliff Norton.

Game playEdit

Each standard round featured a contestant who had a "famous name": the contestants full name was the same as either an actual person ("Jane Russell," "Abraham Lincoln," "Napoleon Bonaparte"), a place ("Virginia Beach," "Monte Carlo"), a thing ("A. Lap," "A. Table," "Ruby Lips", “A. Mattress”), or an action ("I. Draw", "Will Kiss").

It was always made clear that the names used on the show were authentic. The shows legal experts would check birth certificates, hospital records and other forms of verification to affirm the names authenticity.

The contestant was introduced and referred to throughout the game as "Mr. X" (or "Mrs./Miss/Master X"). A small curtain was opened to the audience, showing a placard with the contestants name, along with a drawing depicting the namesake; famous people were often caricatured.

The panelists were allocated 10 questions each, with the number remaining denoted in running tally on the wall behind them. The questions had to be "yes or no" questions, and were posed to the contestant as if they were the person, place, or thing their name represented with the contestant answering as their namesake.

The panel could pass to save some of their questions for later on in the game. Any member of the panel who failed to identify the contestants name wrote the contestant a check for $25, meaning each contestant won either $50 if their name was guessed by a panelist, or $75 if it was not. When a fourth panelist was added in early 1954, the check amounts were decreased to $20 per panelist, making the prizes $60 for a correct guess and $80 if the panel was stumped.

Many of the contestants names lent themselves to comedy. Robert Q. Lewis would always call on Carl Reiner first when the mystery name was a thing: Reiner's innocent questions always took on funny meanings, followed by Joan Alexander straying even farther away, to the studio audiences delight. For "A. Harem," Reiner asked, "Is this thing used for recreational purposes?" and Alexander pursued this: "Do fat men use this to reduce their weight?" Lewis would enjoy these detours as much as the audience. It was then left to Bill Stern, a veteran reporter, to zero in on the actual name with serious, shrewd questioning.

Sometimes a contestants celebrity namesake was brought out at the end of the round to surprise the contestant; other times, a celebrity was the guest without pretext. The celebrity then played a special round called "I'd Like To Be..." in which the panel tried to guess, in the same fashion as with civilians, who the celebrity would like to be if they could be anyone else. In late 1953, "I'd Like To Be..." was replaced with "Secret Wish", in which the panel attempted to guess something that the guest would secretly like to do or have happen (for example, Kirk Douglas wished to coach the Vassar lacrosse team, and Van Johnson wanted Marilyn Monroe to sit on his lap). The celebrity's winnings ($50/$75, later $60/$80) went to his or her favorite charity.

A few times near the end of the run, host Clifton Fadiman would welcome the panel, then reveal the episodes guest to the studio and home audience. The curtain would pull back with the guest standing behind it in place of the usual caricature.

A typical episode contained four rounds - two standard rounds, the celebrity round, and then a final standard round; some episodes would feature one less or one more standard round. At the end of each episode, each panelist would tell how much money they "lost" followed by a good-night.


For most of the shows run, the theme for The Name's the Same was a busy string arrangement called "Shooting Star" by Sidney Torch. This was used until the program's last 11 episodes, when an instrumental version of "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis" by Kerry Mills was used (Ralston Purina of St. Louis was the show's sponsor).

Foreign versionsEdit

A UK version was made for radio (BBC Home Service) and TV (BBC Television) with British namesakes of famous people, buildings and things. It ran on TV from 1954 to 1955 with Bernard Braden as the original host, later replaced by Peter Martyn.[7]

A one-off revival edition was produced for BBC Four in 2005 as part of a season of programs detailing the "lost decade".

Episode statusEdit

At least some episodes with all four regular hosts were saved as kinescope films. Most recently, the show aired in reruns on GSN at 3:30 AM ET every morning following What's My Line? in GSN's "Black & White Overnight" block. The latest run began on July 14, 2008, with an episode from August 6, 1952, and ended on December 2 with the series finale. Episodes hosted by Lewis were added to the Buzzr schedule in January 2018.

Several episodes rerun by GSN are available in their original, uncut form (e.g., with commercials and uncrunched credits) in the collectors' trading circuit, as well as from "public-domain" dealers like Shokus Video. One of these is from April 25, 1955, in which famous clown Emmett Kelly fulfills his "Secret Wish" – painting co-host Ray Goulding's face like that of a clown.

As verified on December 29, 2018, the UCLA Film and Television Archive no longer has over 40 episodes of the program from 1953–1955, including the aforementioned Emmett Kelly episode.


  1. ^ Sterling, Christopher H. (ed.) (2004). Encyclopedia of Radio. Fitzroy Dearborn. ISBN 1-57958-249-4, p. 188.
  2. ^ "Passings: Raymond Jones, Cal Montney, Allan Eckert, Lee Vines, Ramona Hahn, Frank Billerbeck". Los Angeles Times. 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  3. ^ "Johnson Mulls 'Name's Same'". The Billboard. 1952-11-01. p. 7. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  4. ^ "'Name's Same' Takes Over 'Jamie' Timeslot". The Billboard. 1954-10-02. p. 13. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  5. ^ "Swanson Buys Into Lewis Seg". The Billboard. 1954-05-01. p. 4. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  6. ^ Silverman, David (2007). "Television Censorship and Regulation". "You Can't Air That"- Four Cases of Controversy and Censorship in American Television Programming. Syracuse University Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-8156-3150-2. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  7. ^ "The Name's the Same[25/05/54] (1954)".

External linksEdit