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To Tell the Truth
GenreGame show
Created byBob Stewart
Presented byBud Collyer
Garry Moore
Joe Garagiola
Robin Ward
Gordon Elliott
Lynn Swann
Alex Trebek
John O'Hurley
Anthony Anderson
Narrated byBern Bennett
Johnny Olson
Bill Wendell
Alan Kalter
Burton Richardson
David Scott
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons12
Running time22–26 minutes
42–46 minutes
Production company(s)Goodson-Todman Productions
Mark Goodson Productions
Gaspin Media
DistributorFirestone Film Syndication, Ltd.[1]
Viacom Productions[2]
Pearson Television
FremantleMedia North America
Original networkCBS
Original releaseDecember 18, 1956 (1956-12-18) – present
Related showsYou Lie Like a Dog

To Tell the Truth is an American television panel game show created by Bob Stewart and originally produced by Goodson-Todman Productions that has aired in various forms since 1956 both on networks and in syndication. As of June 14, 2016, the show is one of two game shows in the United States to have aired at least one new episode in at least seven consecutive decades, the other game show being both incarnations of The Price Is Right. As of the 2016 version, a total of 26 seasons of the various versions of To Tell the Truth have been produced, surpassing the 25 of What's My Line? and the 20 of I've Got a Secret.

The show features a panel of four celebrities whose object is the correct identification of a described contestant (or pair of contestants) who has an unusual occupation or has undergone an unusual experience. This "central character" is accompanied by two impostors who pretend to be the central character (or characters); together, the three persons (or pairs) are said to belong to a "team of challengers." The celebrity panelists question the three contestants (or pairs); the impostors are allowed to lie, but the central character is sworn "to tell the truth." After questioning, the panel attempts to identify which of the three challengers is telling the truth and is thus the central character.


  • 1 Basic rules
  • 2 History
    • 2.1 1956–1968, CBS
    • 2.2 1969–1978, syndication
    • 2.3 1980–1981, syndication
    • 2.4 1990–1991, NBC
    • 2.5 2000–2002, syndication
    • 2.6 2016–present, ABC
  • 3 Notable contestants
    • 3.1 1956–1968
    • 3.2 1969–1978
    • 3.3 1980–1981
    • 3.4 1990–1991
    • 3.5 2000–2002
    • 3.6 2016–present
  • 4 Merchandise
  • 5 International versions
  • 6 Notes
  • 7 External links

Basic rules

Although there have been some variations in the rules over the years (including the addition of a secondary game in some versions), certain basic aspects have remained consistent throughout all versions of To Tell the Truth. Three challengers are introduced, all claiming to be the central character. The announcer typically asks the challengers, who stand side by side, "What is your name, please?" Each challenger then states, "My name is [central character's name]." The celebrity panelists then read along as the host reads aloud a signed affidavit about the central character.

The panelists are each given a period of time to question the challengers. Questions are directed to the challengers by number (Number One, Number Two and Number Three), with the central character sworn to give truthful answers, and the impostors permitted to lie and pretend to be the central character.

After questioning is complete, each member of the panel votes on which of the challengers they believe to be the central character, either by writing the number on a card or holding up a card with the number of their choice, without consulting the other panelists. Any panelist who knows one of the challengers or has another unfair advantage is required to recuse or disqualify himself or herself which, for scoring purposes, is counted as an incorrect vote.

Once the votes are in, the host asks, "Will the real [person's name] please stand up?" The central character then stands, often after some brief playful feinting and false starts among all three challengers. Occasionally, the central character would be asked to do something else related to their story instead of standing up. The two impostors then reveal their real names and their actual occupations. Prize money is awarded and divided among all three of the challengers based on the number of incorrect votes the impostors draw.

1956–1968, CBS

To Tell the Truth was to have premiered on Tuesday, December 18, 1956, on CBS in prime time as Nothing But The Truth, but the program title was changed to To Tell the Truth the day before the show's debut. (There was one pilot episode titled "Nothing But The Truth", and the pilot / planned title, and the eventual title, both derive from the standard English court oath "to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.") The series was recorded in New York City; initially at CBS-TV Studio 52, moving to Studio 50 late in its run. The existence of an audience ticket for a taping indicates that the show originated in color at the CBS Broadcast Center in late 1966.[3]

Bud Collyer was the show's host (Mike Wallace hosted the pilot); recurring panelists by the 1960s included Tom Poston, Peggy Cass, Orson Bean, and Kitty Carlisle. (Cass and Carlisle stayed on as panelists for most subsequent editions.) Earlier regular panelists had included Johnny Carson, Polly Bergen, Jayne Meadows, Don Ameche, Hy Gardner, Dick Van Dyke, Faye Emerson, Hildy Parks, John Cameron Swayze, and Ralph Bellamy. Bern Bennett, Collyer's announcer on Beat the Clock, was the inaugural announcer of To Tell the Truth in the 1950s. Upon Bennett's transfer to CBS's Los Angeles studios, Johnny Olson, who in time became the best-known of all Goodson-Todman Productions announcers, joined the show in 1960 and remained through the end of its CBS runs.

On the pilot and the prime-time run, three games were played per episode. For the pilot, a wrong vote from each of the four member panel and one wrong vote derived from the majority vote of the audience (a total of five votes) paid $300, the total prize money divided among the three challengers. The studio audience also voted with the majority vote counting equally with that of one of a celebrity panelist, thus the maximum of five incorrect votes resulted in $1,500 divided among the challengers.If there was a tie for the highest vote from the audience, and for each panelist who was disqualified, a wrong vote was counted. There was no consolation prize for no wrong votes.

For the prime-time run there was no audience vote, thus each wrong vote from the four member panel paid $250 divided among the three challengers, for a possible $1,000 for a complete stump of four wrong answers (raised to $1,250 in 1967 as a premium only awarded for four wrong votes). A consolation prize of $150 was awarded and divided among the three challengers if there were no wrong votes. For each panelist who was disqualified, a wrong vote was counted. A design element in the set for this series was a platform directly above and behind the emcee's desk. The contestants stood on this platform during their introduction allowing the camera to pan directly down to the host. They then traveled down a curved staircase to the main stage level to play the game.

On Monday, June 18, 1962, a daytime five-day-per-week edition was introduced, running at 3 p.m. Eastern, and 2 p.m. Central. The daytime show, also hosted by Collyer, featured a separate panel for its first three years, with actress Phyllis Newman as the only regular. The evening panel took over the afternoon show in 1965; in early 1968, Bert Convy replaced Poston in the first chair.

The daytime show was reduced to two games to accommodate a five-minute news break towards the half-hour mark. On the CBS daytime run, each wrong vote paid the three challengers $100 for a possible total of $400 divided among the three challengers for a stump of all four wrong votes. If all of the votes were correct, the challengers split a consolation prize of $75. During the show's final year and a half, for only the daytime version, the studio audience also voted, with the majority vote counting equally with that of one of the celebrity panelists, thus a maximum $500 divided among the challengers could be awarded for the maximum five incorrect votes. If there was a tie for the highest vote from the audience, and for each panelist who was disqualified, a wrong vote was counted.

One CBS daytime episode featuring Dorothy Kilgallen, best known as a regular panelist on What's My Line?, was broadcast on the East Coast on Monday, November 8, 1965, as news of her sudden death was circulated by wire services. The breaking news story prompted CBS newscaster Douglas Edwards to announce her death immediately after To Tell the Truth ended. She had videotaped the program six days earlier, according to the New York Herald Tribune. The newspaper added that Kilgallen and Arlene Francis both pretended to be Joan Crawford while sitting next to the real Crawford in a celebrity segment that the daytime series featured regularly starting in 1965. The episode was one of the large majority of To Tell the Truth daytime episodes that were destroyed because of the common practice of wiping videotape prior to the invention of the videocassette. This was a different half-hour telecast from the 1962 prime-time episode on which Kilgallen can be seen and heard as one of the panelists. GSN repeated that episode decades later.

The prime-time show ended on May 22, 1967, with the daytime show ending on September 6, 1968.[4] The show was replaced by the expansions of Search for Tomorrow and Guiding Light to 30 minutes, in a scheduling shuffle with The Edge of Night, The Secret Storm, and Art Linkletter's House Party.

Metropole Orchestra leader Dolf van der Linden composed the show's first theme, "Peter Pan," used from 1956–61. From 1961–67, the show switched to a Bob Cobert-penned theme with a beat similar to "Peter Pan," and then to a Score Productions tune during its final CBS daytime season.

Most episodes of the original nighttime run of the series were preserved on black and white kinescope, along with a few color videotape episodes.[5] Only a handful of shows remain from the CBS daytime series's first three years because of a then-common practice of wiping videotapes and reusing them due to tight storage space and even tighter budgets. Many daytime episodes (including some in color) from 1966–68 exist, including the color finale.

Reruns of the black and white kinescopes were running on the Buzzr channel as of late April 2016.[6]

1969–1978, syndication

To Tell the Truth returned only a year later, in autumn of 1969, in first-run syndication. During the early years of its run, the syndicated Truth became a highly rated component of stations' early-evening schedules after the Federal Communications Commission imposed the Prime Time Access Rule in 1971,[7] opening up at least a half hour (a full hour, usually, on Eastern Time Zone stations) to fill with non-network fare between either the local or network evening newscast and the start of the network's primetime schedule for the evening.[7] Other stations found success running the program in place of a daytime network game or soap opera, or in the afternoon "fringe" time period between the end of network daytime programming at 4:30/3:30 Central and the evening newscasts. This edition of the show was again based at the New York CBS-TV Studio 50 until 1971, when it moved to NBC Studio 6-A in Rockefeller Center.

Each incorrect vote in this version was worth $50 to the challengers. Fooling the entire panel won the challengers a total of $500. There were two "games" (actually rounds) per episode, and there was often a live demonstration or video to illustrate the central character's story after many of the games.

The show was first released to local stations on September 8, 1969. A total of 1,715 episodes of this version were produced, with the series ending on September 7, 1978. Some markets that added the series after its 1969 release opted to carry the show for another season or two in order to catch up on the episodes that had not aired in their viewing area.

To host the revival series, Goodson and Todman made a call to original host Bud Collyer.[8] But they had mis-timed their request, as Collyer had been suffering from a series of health issues that caused his death shortly thereafter, and he told the producers, "I'm just not up to it." [8] The next call they made was to Garry Moore, the former host of I've Got a Secret. Although he had retired from television a few years earlier following the cancellation of his eponymous TV show, Moore decided the time was right to return and he accepted the offer to host the new series.[9] Regular panelists included Orson Bean during the first year, Peggy Cass, Kitty Carlisle and Bill Cullen, who was also the designated substitute host whenever necessary. Many regulars from the original run appeared, including Tom Poston and Bert Convy.

In late 1976, during the eighth season, Moore was diagnosed with throat cancer[9] and left for the remainder of the season to deal with his illness. As he had done numerous times before, Bill Cullen became his replacement. As Cullen's time as host continued on, Mark Goodson noted how Cullen's serving as host, rather than as a panelist, hurt the chemistry he'd shared with Cass and Carlisle.[citation needed] A decision was made to have Cullen return to being a permanent panelist and give semi-regular panelist Joe Garagiola the hosting position. Garagiola stated that he was "pinch-hitting" for Moore, who returned to the series for a farewell performance on the ninth-season premiere in 1977. Moore explained why he had left the program, then after presiding over one last game announced his final retirement from television and handed the host position to Garagiola permanently. To Tell the Truth ended production at the end of the season.

Johnny Olson stayed with To Tell the Truth when it moved to syndication. He left in 1972, when he moved to Los Angeles to announce the Goodson-Todman revivals of The Price Is Right and I've Got a Secret. NBC staff announcer Bill Wendell replaced Olson from 1972–77, with Alan Kalter taking over during the final season. Don Pardo, also an NBC staff announcer, served as backup announcer to Wendell and Kalter.

To Tell the Truth used three distinctive sets throughout its nine-year syndicated run. The first, designed by Theodore Cooper and dubbed by some as the "psychedelic" set was used for the first two seasons and the first four weeks of the third; with one man on the door[10] a toned-down set with two additional men added on the door was used from the fifth week of the third season through the first 30 weeks of the fourth. The longest-lived set — a blue-hued, gold-accented, block-motif set — was used for the remainder of the run, and Cooper also designed that set.[11] The show was the only edition of Truth to feature a theme song with lyrics. The theme was written and composed by Score Productions chief Robert A. Israel and Truth producer Paul Alter, along with veteran theme composer Charles Fox. The bulk of this version is intact. However, the current status of the first season is unknown, and is presumed to be lost to wiping. GSN has never rerun the first season of the show, and had always begun with the second season. One episode from the first season exists in the UCLA Television and Film Archive.

1980–1981, syndication

On September 8, 1980, a new To Tell the Truth series premiered in syndication. The new series was recorded at the same studio at NBC's Rockefeller Center complex that the previous series had, and Canadian TV personality Robin Ward served as the host with Alan Kalter returning as announcer. A new theme and set were commissioned for this edition of Truth and although previous regulars Bill Cullen, Peggy Cass, and Kitty Carlisle made frequent appearances, there was no regular panel for this edition. The new Truth aired for one season in syndication, but it never recaptured the popularity of the original, and aired its final episode on September 11, 1981.

Two games were played, and each wrong vote paid the challengers $100; $500 was paid if the entire panel had been fooled. No consolation prize was given if the entire panel correctly identified the subject.

After the second game, a new game called "One on One" was played with the four impostors from earlier. One fact had been purposely withheld from the panel about one of the impostors and it was up to the panelists to determine correctly to which of the impostors it applied. One at a time, each panelist would be given twenty seconds to question the impostor sitting directly across from them and would then say whether he/she believed the fact applied to that impostor. Wrong votes still paid $100 with $500 paid if the panel did not correctly determine to whom the fact pertained.

The 1980 edition of To Tell the Truth was a rarity in that it was still based in New York while nearly all television game show production had moved to California. Both To Tell the Truth and The $50,000 Pyramid (which debuted at the midpoint of the 1980–81 season and taped at ABC's Studio 15) were the last two broadcast (non-cable) television game shows to emanate from New York until Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? came to television for the first time in 1999 and taped at the ABC Television Center in Lincoln Square. Millionaire continued to tape in New York until 2013. New York tapings for game shows were then used in 2016 for two ABC primetime game show revivals, Match Game and The $100,000 Pyramid.

1990–1991, NBC

To Tell the Truth returned again, and returned to a major broadcast network, for a run that lasted just nine months from September 3, 1990 to May 31, 1991. After spending many years originating from New York, the show originated for the first time from California at NBC's Burbank studio complex. The show's theme music was an orchestral remix of the 1969–78 theme (minus the lyrics), and the show utilized the block-letter logo from 1973–78. All episodes of this series exist and have aired on GSN in reruns.

The series's two pilot episodes were hosted by actor Richard Kline with Charlie O'Donnell as announcer, and one of these was accidentally aired on September 3, 1990 in the Eastern Time Zone markets. When the show first made it to air, A Current Affair reporter Gordon Elliott was the emcee with Burton Richardson announcing and O'Donnell serving as his substitute. After eight weeks, a dispute with Elliott's former employers in Australia forced him off American television altogether temporarily, and he was replaced with then-frequent panelist Lynn Swann. Swann, in turn, left due to his own conflicts as he was a reporter for ABC Sports at the time and Alex Trebek was brought in to be the permanent host. Trebek missed two episodes due to his wife going into labor during a taping and Mark Goodson filled in for him. When Trebek took the position on To Tell the Truth he was already hosting Classic Concentration on NBC and Jeopardy! in syndication. This made him only the second emcee, after Jim Perry, to host three nationally televised game shows simultaneously and the first to do it entirely in the United States; Perry hosted a pair of Canadian-based game shows, Definition and Headline Hunters, while hosting Card Sharks in the United States from 1978 to 1981.

The celebrity panelists for To Tell the Truth during this period included several of the '70s panel stalwarts including Kitty Carlisle, who appeared on a majority of the shows taking the fourth and most upstage seat. The first seat, furthest downstage, saw Ron Masak and Orson Bean alternate on the panel for 34 of the 39 weeks the series was on air. The chair next to that was occupied by rotating guests, although voice actress Dana Hill appeared in the seat most often. The third chair most often featured David Niven, Jr. as a panelist, although Masak and Bean would also sit there if both were to appear on the same program. Polly Bergen and Peggy Cass, who began appearing on the original series, would appear from time to time, and other frequent panelists included Vicki Lawrence, Cindy Adams, and Betty White. The panelists were introduced in twos, with the male panelists escorting the female panelists down the staircase, followed by the host. For one week, Monty Hall (who would later replace Bob Hilton as a permanent guest host on the 1990 version of Let's Make a Deal), sat in the first seat.

Two games were played with two sets of impostors. Any incorrect votes up to two paid $1,000. If three of the panelists had voted incorrectly, the players split $1,500. On the pilot, each incorrect vote earned $500. If the panel was fooled entirely, the players split $3,000.[citation needed]

After the second game, a new version of the "One on One" game from the 1980 series was played. A seventh civilian player was brought out with two stories, and a member of the studio audience was given an opportunity to win money by trying to figure out which of the two stories were true. Each panelist was given the opportunity to ask the contestant one question for each story, and after both stories had been presented the audience member chose which one he/she thought was the truth. After the choice was made, the contestant revealed the right answer and if the audience member came up with it, he/she won $500. If the contestant stumped the audience member, that player won $1,000.

Occasionally, celebrities whose faces were not well known would attempt to stump the audience during this part of the game. For example, Hank Ketcham, the creator of Dennis the Menace and a challenger on the original To Tell the Truth in May 1962, tried during one episode to convince an audience member that he was really the songwriter to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (Johnny Marks had actually done this), but was unsuccessful in doing so.

2000–2002, syndication

The show then had a two-year run in syndication, starting in 2000, with John O'Hurley hosting, and Burton Richardson returning as the announcer. The series was again produced at NBC Studios in Burbank, California. Gary Stockdale supplied the music for this edition.

Actor Meshach Taylor was the only regular to appear on every episode of this edition, while Paula Poundstone was a regular during the first season. Following Poundstone's departure, several actors sat in Poundstone's former chair, including Kim Coles, Jackée Harry, Mother Love, Liz Torres, and Hattie Winston. The show's website touted Coles and Brooke Burns as regulars for season two, though neither panelist was featured in every show that year. Kitty Carlisle appeared as a panelist for one episode of the series, making her the only panelist to have appeared on all incarnations of this show to that point. It was Carlisle's final appearance in the franchise; she died in 2007.

This edition of To Tell the Truth brought back the audience vote that the original series had last used. Their vote was revealed after the panel had cast their votes, just before O'Hurley asked for the subject to identify themself. Each incorrect vote paid $1,000, with a maximum of $5,000 available if the challengers managed to completely fool both the panel and the audience. (A tie in the audience vote or panel disqualification counted as a wrong vote, as they had in previous versions.) In the first several weeks of shows, a game that resulted in five incorrect votes was worth $10,000 for the challengers.

According to Steve Beverly's, this edition of Truth never received a rating higher than 1.8. It was cancelled on January 28, 2002, only 96 episodes into its second season. However, repeats continued to air through March 15, 2002. All episodes of this series exist and have aired on GSN in reruns.

2016–present, ABC

ABC ordered six episodes of the show, hosted by Anthony Anderson who in history of Truth is the second African-American host of the franchise, the first was Lynn Swann in the short-lived NBC daytime version from 1990, that taped in July 2015 and began airing on ABC on June 14, 2016.[12] In the first season, three regular judges featured: Betty White, NeNe Leakes and Jalen Rose.[13] White would then gain the distinction of appearing on all three broadcast network versions of the show.[not in citation given] Guest panelists included Tracee Ellis Ross, Iliza Shlesinger, Mike Tyson, Brooks Wheelan, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Daymond John.[14] The 2016 version also included a house band, Cheche and his Band of Liars; and Doris Day Bowman, Anderson's mother, as the "scorekeeper."[13]

The 2016 version of the show departed in several ways from prior versions. First, episodes last 60 minutes rather than 30 minutes. Contestants do not always claim to have the same name; in those cases, they introduce themselves solely by claiming the central character's story. The questioning period is not split discretely among the panelists, and Anderson and Bowman occasionally participate in the questioning. Once in each episode, the two impostors from a round participate in "Before You Go," a second round in which one is the central character and the other is again an impostor.[citation needed] Many episodes end with a stunt performed by one of the central characters.[13] The panelists receive one point for correctly identifying central characters, except in the final round, for which two points are awarded. While no mention is made of compensation for the impostors or central characters, the losing panelist is subjected to "Tweet a Lie," in which Anderson posts a tweet to his or her Twitter account that cannot be deleted for 24 hours. In the event of a tie, Doris Day Bowman chooses the loser.

On August 4, 2016, ABC announced it had renewed the show for a second season.[15] The second season debuted January 1, 2017. The house band was eliminated, and of the season one regular panelists, only Rose has returned for one appearance thus far; Doris Day Bowman still appears on each episode.[16] The second season resumes with new episodes beginning June 14th, 2017.

Notable contestants

A number of notable contestants have appeared on the show during a time when they, or at the very least their faces, were not well known. Some celebrities have also dressed up as impostors. Soupy Sales, Bill Todman, Tom Poston, Henry Morgan, Joe Garagiola Jr., Christopher Hewett,[17] and Rip Taylor[17] all dressed up in costumes.


  • West Virginia governor Cecil H. Underwood was To Tell the Truth's very first central character. He was the youngest person ever elected governor in West Virginia. He would go on to be not only the oldest person elected governor in West Virginia in 1997, but also the oldest person ever to be elected governor of any state in US history. He appeared as a challenger again five years later.
  • British crime reporter and author Percy Hoskins appeared in 1957.[18]
  • Teen star Luke Halpin appeared first in March 1964 soon after his starring role in the Flipper and Flipper's New Adventure movies only months before NBC began filming the popular TV show version of the movies Flipper for which he was best remembered.
  • Berry Gordy Jr., founder of the Motown Records label, appeared in 1965 and fooled the entire panel. The Supremes were there as well.[19]
  • John E. DuPont, the heir to the DuPont fortune, appeared in 1966. He was training in the sport of modern pentathlon and hoping to make the 1968 Olympics team that was to compete in Mexico City. He later gained infamy for murdering Olympic wrestling champion Dave Schultz in 1996.
  • Rock and roll impresario and deejay Alan Freed was correctly guessed by two of the panelists, including Polly Bergen, in a 1950s episode.
  • Famed ice hockey player Jean Beliveau appeared on November 19, 1957.
  • Irish sports commentator Eamonn Andrews made two appearances in 1957; his first was as a subject. Shortly thereafter, he appeared again as a guest panelist. He was selected as the host of the British version of the show, as well as one of the hosts of the British version of What's My Line?
  • Penelope Anne Coelen, winner of the Miss World 1958 pageant, appeared as a contestant on November 25, 1958.
  • Famed aviator Douglas Corrigan appeared in 1957, one day shy of 19 years after his famous flight "the wrong way" (to California) via Ireland.
  • Australian entertainer Rolf Harris appeared as a contestant on December 9, 1963 and performed a verse of his hit song "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" while playing his wobble board.
  • Singer and future Sesame Street actor Bob McGrath appeared in 1966 due to his fame in Japan at the time. He was correctly guessed by all four panelists.
  • Bud Collyer's son Michael appeared as an impostor, along with the daughter of baseball great Phil Rizzuto. His brother Richard V. "Dick" Heermance appeared as a central character.
  • American author Hunter S. Thompson appeared on the show shortly after writing his book Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1968).
  • Poet Rod McKuen appeared as an impostor for a gambler who never lost.
  • In a 1962 episode, the panel was informed that the subject was Bob Miller, a pitcher for the New York Mets. At the conclusion of the game, the panel was surprised when two subjects stood up, leaving just one impostor. The Mets at the time had two pitchers with the same name – Robert Gerald Miller and Robert Lane Miller.
  • Blues harmonica player Paul Butterfield, who played with the Butterfield Blues Band. He later became famous for playing at the 1969 music concert Woodstock.
  • Songwriter/record producer Ellie Greenwich was the subject in a summer 1968 daytime show.
  • NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle appeared as an impostor on the October 9, 1961 edition of the nighttime series. He identified himself as an insurance salesman, which was his trade during the football offseason; Bud Collyer mentioned offhandedly afterward that Tittle was also the quarterback for the New York Giants.[20]
  • Cartoonist Hank Ketcham, famous for drawing Dennis the Menace, appeared as the subject in a 1962 primetime episode.[21]


  • Frank Abagnale Jr. appeared on the show years after he had given up his con artistry. The bio-pic based on his life, Catch Me If You Can, opens with his appearance on the show, featuring actor (Leonardo DiCaprio playing Abagnale) taking the place of the contestants, interwoven with footage of panelist Carlisle and host Garagiola from the original episode. (Abagnale Jr.'s impostors in this edition were Fr. Leonard Dembo, a Roman Catholic priest then working as a high-school principal, and Richard Lawrence, then President of the Law-Enforcement Associates Company, which artificed police equipment and lie detectors.) None of the panelists correctly identified him.
  • American popcorn promoter and guru Orville Redenbacher was first seen on national television in 1973, long before his signature commercial appearances promoting his gourmet kernels. Redenbacher appeared on an episode of the show and he stumped the panelists (Kitty Carlisle, Bill Cullen, Joe Garagiola, and Peggy Cass), all of whom were shown eating and enjoying samples of Redenbacher's then "new" novelty popcorn flavors including "chili" and "bar-b-que."
  • Caroll Spinney, better known as the man in Big Bird ever since the beginning of Sesame Street, appeared in 1971. Kitty Carlisle correctly identified him.
  • A rare and early television appearance of Garry Trudeau, writer/artist of the comic strip Doonesbury, was as a guest in 1971, where all but one of the panelists failed to guess his identity.
  • Gene Roddenberry was the central character in the first round of a 1975 edition.[episode needed] Larry Blyden, Peggy Cass, Bill Cullen, and Rita Moreno were the edition's panelists; only Moreno failed to identify him correctly.
  • Actress Alexandra Elizabeth "Ally" Sheedy appeared in 1975, when she was twelve years old, in a story about a book that she wrote. The book, titled She Was Nice to Mice and dealing with Queen Elizabeth I's refusal to allow mice overrunning her palace to be exterminated, later became a bestseller. This was well before she became famous as an actress, most notably as one of the "Brat Pack" teens in the 1980s. Later on, Sheedy even became a panelist for a few episodes.
  • Mad Magazine publisher William M. Gaines appeared in 1970 thanks to Dick DeBartolo, a writer for both Goodson-Todman Productions and Mad, who persuaded Gaines to come on the show. In part because the famously-casual Gaines appeared without a necktie, all four celebrities voted for a more stylishly-dressed impostor. Years later, DeBartolo remembered Kitty Carlisle telling him after the taping, "I never figured it was him. I mean look at the way he's dressed. I was looking for someone who ran a very successful magazine, so I thought it couldn't be him!"
  • Roots author Alex Haley appeared as a subject on a 1972 episode. All but one of the panelists was able to identify him.[22]
  • Jack Mercer, the voice of Popeye the Sailor from 1936 to 1982, was a guest in 1975. After the game ended, he engaged the audience with the signature theme "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man."
  • Stan Lee, the creator and writer of many famous Marvel Comics including Spider-Man, X-Men, and Avengers, as well as the Chairman and Editor-In-Chief of Marvel, appeared twice. He first appeared in 1970, and then in 2002. In the latter, he and the other impostors all wore disguises in case any of the panelists recognized him.
  • Famous cartoonist William Hanna and Garry Trudeau appeared with other impostors in an episode from 1975, which ended with a person in a Yogi Bear costume (consultant Dick DeBartolo) picking out Hanna, and Daws Butler provided the voice of Yogi as he introduced the panel in a cartoon.
  • Actor David Prowse, the British actor who wore the costume of Darth Vader in Star Wars, appeared on the show in 1977. Peggy Cass correctly identified him.
  • Fine art and commercial photographer David Attie was a guest on March 20, 1978 to promote his book "Russian Self-Portraits" (Harper and Row, 1977).
  • Journalist Anderson Cooper, then 9 years old, appeared as an impostor.
  • After becoming the first person to base jump off the World Trade Center in 1975, Owen Quinn appeared on the show in 1978. None of the panelists guessed his true identity.[23]
  • Joe Garagiola Jr. and Chris Hart, the sons of Joe Garagiola Sr. and Kitty Carlisle respectively, appeared in 1975 as impostors pretending to be police detective Richard Buggy as part of a prank on their parents.


  • Cartoonist Chuck Jones appeared as a subject on the show's second episode.
  • Mary Kay Cosmetics founder Mary Kay Ash was also a subject on the same episode.
  • Thomas Braden, CIA operative and journalist whose book Eight is Enough later spawned a hit TV series, appeared as a subject.
  • Rosa Parks appeared as a subject and stumped two of the three voting panelists. (Nipsey Russell, the fourth, knew who she was, and he disqualified himself. He explained that he had met her when they protested together in the Selma to Montgomery marches.)[24]
  • Then a small-time radio host, Larry King was a subject later in the show's run. The same episode featured future figure skating world champion Elaine Zayak in the first game.
  • Former Tic Tac Dough champion Thom McKee appeared as a subject.
  • John McLaughlin, future host of TV's The McLaughlin Group, was a subject.
  • Tony La Russa appeared as a subject on the show. At the time, he was the manager of the Chicago White Sox and was the youngest manager in Major League Baseball. He successfully fooled all the panelists, none of whom correctly identified him.
  • Vicki McCarty, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from the University of California Berkeley who had been the September 1979 Playboy Playmate, appeared as a subject, receiving all four of the panel's votes.


  • Randy West, later a well-known game show announcer, was an impostor during the show's first week in 1990.
  • Exploitation film producer and pioneer David F. Friedman appeared on the 1990 edition of the show, during the release of his memoir A Youth in Babylon; Kitty Carlisle was horrified at the nature of his salacious claims to fame, though on-air she expressed her reservations as humorously as possible.
  • Actress Catherine Bell appeared as an impostor on the show in 1990.
  • The composer of There She Is, Miss America, Bernie Wayne, appeared in the "One on One" portion on Thanksgiving Week 1990.
  • Dennis the Menace creator Hank Ketcham, who had appeared as a subject on the original To Tell the Truth (see above), returned to play One on One during Christmas week in 1990. He tried to convince the audience contestant that he had instead written and composed the Christmas song "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer." But the audience member correctly identified him as the man behind the famous comic.
  • Original announcer Bern Bennett was a "central subject" in 1991.
  • Joan Howard Maurer, daughter of The Three Stooges' Moe Howard, appeared during the Alex Trebek era in 1991.
  • Doug Heir, Paralympic Champion, appeared on an episode in 1990.
  • Marni Nixon (Mrs. Ernest Gold), the singer who had provided the dubbed voices for Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Wood and Deborah Kerr, appeared on Lynn Swann's last show in 1991.
  • Cory Everson, female bodybuilder, appeared on an episode in 1991.
  • Doris Tate, mother of Sharon Tate, appeared on an episode in 1991.
  • Rip Taylor appeared as an impostor on a Christmas episode.
  • Don McLeod, the gorilla in the American Tourister commercial, appeared in the 1991 finale.


  • Mikki Padilla later became the card dealer on Catch 21; two of the four celebrities identified her, plus the audience.
  • Patti Stanger, a matchmaker for big-bucks single people who later became creator and host of Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker, appeared in the edition for which Mikki Padilla was one of her impostors.
  • Zack Hample, a collector of Major-League baseballs and the author of the book How To Snag Major League Baseballs, stumped two celebrities plus the audience.[25]
  • Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of actress Joan Crawford and the author of the memoir Mommie Dearest, was a central character.
  • John Peterman, the catalog and retail entrepreneur, wrote in his affidavit as a central character that the host "John O'Hurley" was an impostor, holding up a picture of him, as an inside joke in reference to O'Hurley's J. Peterman character on Seinfeld.
  • Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, appeared on the February 21, 2001 episode.
  • Tracy Griffith, an actress, a chef, and the half-sister of actress Melanie Griffith, stumped the entire panel (two of whom did not vote) and the audience.
  • Margo Howard, past author of the advice column Dear Prudence, niece of Abigail Van Buren, daughter of Ann Landers, and ex-wife of Ken Howard, stumped two celebrities and the audience.
  • Willie Aames, a former child actor, was acting out the lead character in Bibleman when he appeared as a central character, and the entire team of challengers was outfitted in Bibleman's costume to obscure their identities.
  • Yvonne Craig, the actress who portrayed Batgirl in the 1960s TV series Batman.
  • Todd Greene, an inventor and the founder of Headblade, was a central character; each contestant pretended to be the inventor of the head razor he invented.
  • The activist Candy Lightner, who had founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, was a central character.
  • I. King Jordan, the first deaf president in the history of Gallaudet University was a central character, stumping the entire panel and audience.
  • Charlie Jane Anders, a journalist and science fiction novelist, later known as the editor-in-chief for the website io9


  • Susan Bennett, the voice of Siri, was a central character.
  • Drag queen and Rupaul's Drag Race alumnus Willam Belli appeared as an imposter.
  • Actor and professional wrestler Vinny DeGennaro appeared as an imposter.
  • Victor Willis, the original lead singer of the Village People, was a central character and performed "Y.M.C.A." with the in-house band.
  • Jessica Pacheco Jones, the widow of Monkees performer, Davy Jones appeared as an imposter[26]
  • Internet and Social media legend, Trisha Paytas, appeared as an Imposter.
  • one of the imposters was Palisades High School Wrestling Coach, Aldo Juliano
  • Wonderland Kindergarten Teacher,[27] Jane Raphael appeared as an Imposter.
  • Legendary voice of 104.3 MYfm Radio host,[28] Lisa Foxx appeared as an Imposter.
  • nurse, Britt Sanborn and Fitness trainer, Brandon Sanborn, the imposters were actual siblings.
  • the real Sierra Leone Princess,[29]Sarah Culberson appeared on the Show only as an Imposter.
  • Michelle Obama impersonator, Vernetta Jenkins made an appearance on the show.
  • Guinness Book and Multiple World Record Holder Carl Reese , made an appearance on the show as a central character.
  • Chris Messina, the "inventor of the hashtag," appeared as an imposter in one round and as a central character during the subsequent "Before You Go" round.
  • Tony Moran, actor who portrayed Michael Myers in cult-favorite Halloween
  • David Joyner, actor who portrayed Barney the Dinosaur on the last two Barney & The Backyard Gang Videos and the TV show Barney & Friends from 1991-2002.
  • LaTavia Roberson, original member of Destiny's Child
  • Drew Russell, the World Championship Cow Chip Throwing record holder, appeared as an imposter in one round and as a central character during the "Before You Go" round.


A board game was released by Lowell in 1957.

During the run of the 2000 version, a single-player online game was offered by the short-lived website (and plugged by John O'Hurley at the end of each episode).

A video slot machine game based on the 1969 version, was released to American casinos nationwide by Bally Gaming Systems in 2002.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Image #9 - The David Schwartz Collection". Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  4. ^ {{url= Search:Watching TV: Four Decades of American Television|publisher=Google Books}}
  5. ^ "The G-T Big 4: To Tell the Truth (CBS Nighttime)" Retrieved 3 July 2007
  6. ^ "Monty Hall makes 'Deal' for classic games". USA TODAY. 1 June 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Prime Time Access Rule" Retrieved 24 September 2007
  8. ^ a b Soap Opera Digest: January 1977
  9. ^ a b "Garry Moore, 78, the Cheery Host Of Long-Running TV Series, Dies". New York Times. 1993-11-29. Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  10. ^ To Tell The Truth episode guide (1971–72) at the Wayback Machine (archived February 24, 2006)
  11. ^ The result of the sliding doors are similar to the sliding doors on The Price is Right. To Tell The Truth episode guide (1972–73) at the Wayback Machine (archived February 24, 2006)
  12. ^ "Breaking News - ABC Announces Its 2016 Summer Primetime Schedule". Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  13. ^ a b c Kissell, Rick (July 1, 2015). "ABC to Revive 'To Tell the Truth' as Comedic Game/Variety Show". Variety. Retrieved July 2, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Shows A–Z – to tell the truth on abc". The Futon Critic. Retrieved June 7, 2016. 
  15. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 4, 2016). "ABC Renews All Four Game Shows". Retrieved August 5, 2016. 
  16. ^ Davis, Alex (November 17, 2016). "Match Game and To Tell The Truth to Return In January". Retrieved November 17, 2016. 
  17. ^ a b "To Tell the Truth". 1990-12-25. NBC.  Missing or empty |series= (help)
  18. ^ "British Journalism Review - SAGE Journals" (PDF). 
  19. ^ Video on YouTube
  20. ^ To Tell the Truth episode aired October 9, 1961 on CBS.
  21. ^ To Tell The Truth episode aired May 7, 1962 on CBS.
  22. ^ To Tell the Truth - Alex Haley (1972) on YouTube
  23. ^ full episode of To Tell the Truth featuring Owen Quinn on YouTube
  24. ^ Rosa Parks - To Tell the Truth (1980) on YouTube
  25. ^ Zack Hample on "To Tell The Truth" on YouTube
  26. ^ "Google". 
  27. ^ "Teachers @ Wonderland School". 
  28. ^ "About Lisa Foxx - Get Articles, Bio & Show Info - 104.3 MYFM". 
  29. ^ "Sarah Culberson". 

External links

  • To Tell the Truth @
  • To Tell the Truth (O'Hurley era) site
  • To Tell the Truth (Anderson era) site
  • To Tell the Truth on the Web - offers a look at the various versions over the years. Contains an episode guide for the 1990-91 and 2000-02 series.
  • To Tell the Truth (1956–68) at the Internet Movie Database
  • To Tell the Truth (1969–78) at the Internet Movie Database
  • To Tell the Truth (1980–81) at the Internet Movie Database
  • To Tell the Truth (1990–91) at the Internet Movie Database
  • To Tell the Truth (2000–2002) at the Internet Movie Database
  • To Tell the Truth (2016–) at the Internet Movie Database
  • To Tell the Truth-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television

Complete Video List

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