Garry Moore Show, The

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents





Garry Moore, genial host of numerous successful network television programs throughout the 1950s and 1960s was a major influence on the early acceptance of the medium among American viewers. During his long-running broadcast career Moore appeared regularly during prime time hours and different time periods. Like Arthur Godfrey, Moore hosted prominent daytime and weekly evening shows which contributed to his immense popularity. His programs were frequently among the top-ten list of highly rated prime time programs. As a comedian Garry Moore combined genial humor with a pleasant personality and relaxed style that made him a favorite with audiences.

Moore originally worked as a network radio comedian and writer known by his real name, Thomas Garrison Morfit. Because Morfit was difficult to pronounce, an on-air contest to select a stage name was conducted. Beginning in 1940 he became known to the listening audience as Garry Moore.

In 1949 CBS Radio originated the Garry Moore Show, a daily one hour variety program produced in Hollywood. Network programmers recognized a successful radio personality in Moore, and given their need for programming talent on its young television network, CBS provided the opportunity for Moore to host a variety television show in New York. When the Garry Moore Show was introduced on CBS daytime television in 1950 Moore established a distinctive on-air identity with his crew cut hair and bowtie image. His physical appearance enhanced his casual demeanor and easy going conversational style that became familiar to home viewers.

Moore's initial telecasts followed a somewhat checkerboard scheduling pattern. Beginning as a 30-minute evening series, the live Monday-through-Friday Garry Moore Show made its television debut in June 1950. By August the program changed to one night weekly and expanded to an hour in length. For its fall 1950 lineup CBS scheduled Moore weekday afternoons, a move that lasted eight years. By 1951 the Garry Moore Show reportedly was the second largest revenue source for CBS and for a time the network could not accommodate potential sponsors awaiting the opportunity to advertise on the program.

Moore's daytime program format was flexible but generally included humorous skits, singing, monologues, and studio audience interaction. Regular performers were featured along with special guests. Supporting Moore with the various program segments were singers Denise Lor and Ken Carson, and announcer and sidekick Durward Kirby. Guest comedians Don Adams, George Gobel, Carol Burnett, Don Knotts, and Jonathan Winters made their earliest television appearances on Moore's show, contributing to the entertaining tone and boosting their individual careers. The Garry Moore Show remained on air until mid-1958 when Moore voluntarily relinquished his hosting duties due to the exhaustive work schedule. By the 1958 fall season Moore returned to CBS, hosting a weekly evening program, again called the Garry Moore Show.

The hour-long evening series followed a format similar to Moore's daytime variety program. During its six-year run. the Garry Moore Show introduced comedienne Carol Burnett who later starred in her own successful CBS show during the 1960s and 1970s. Other comedic and musical talents regularly appearing on the Moore nighttime variety show Included Durward Kirby, Marion Lorne, and Dorothy Loudon. Allen Funt's "Candid Camera" became a regular segment on the program. Another popular weekly feature was a lengthy nostalgia segment known as "That Wonderful Year." Given the grueling work required to produce the show, Moore decided to discontinue the program in 1964. Moore reappeared in 1966 as host of yet another weekly Garry Moore Show variety series, but after five months of competition with Bonanza, CBS canceled the show due to poor ratings.

In addition to hosting several variety shows, Garry Moore moderated two television panel quiz programs, I've Got a Secret and To Tell the Truth. He began a 12 year reign as moderator of Goodson-Todman Productions I've Got a Secret, in 1952. This popular CBS prime time program featured celebrity panelists who tried to guess the secret of ordinary and celebrity contestants. Panel members appearing through the years included Bill Cullen, Jayne Meadows, Henry Morgan, Faye Emerson, and Betsy Palmer. I've Got a Secret was among the A.C. Nielsen Top 20 television programs for seven years. It remained one of the most popular panel programs ever on television. Goodson-Todman sold I've Got a Secret to CBS and Garry Moore in 1959, and he continued to moderate the show until 1964.

To Tell the Truth, also from Goodson-Todman, had been moderated for a decade by Bud Collyer. It was taken over by Garry Moore when the program went into syndication In 1969. Another half-hour celebrity panel show, the object of To Tell the Truth was to determine which of three contestants was telling the truth. Regular panelists included Orson Bean, Bill Cullen, Kitty Carlisle, and Peggy Cass. Moore left the program and television for good in 1977 when he developed throat cancer. The wit, charm and personality so much a part of Garry Moore, influenced numerous television hosts both during and following his long career. He died from emphysema in 1993 at age 78.

-Dennis Harp



Blumenthal, Norman. The TV Game Show Book. New York: Pyramid, 1975.

DeLong, Thomas A. Quiz Craze: America's Infatuation with Game Shows. New York: Praeger 1991.

Fabe, Maxine. TV Game Shows. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1979.

Graham, Jefferson. Come on Down!!!: The Game Show Book. New York: Abbeville, 1988.

Schwartz, David, Steve Ryan, and Fred Wostbrock. The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows. New York: Zoetrope, 1987.

Who talked about this show

Julie Andrews

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Julie Andrews on meeting Carol Burnett

Bob Banner

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Bob Banner on producing The Garry Moore Show  
Bob Banner on producing Candid Camera segments on The Garry Moore Show, which led to Candid Camera
Bob Banner on Carol Burnett's contributions on The Garry Moore Show

Carol Burnett

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Carol Burnett on starting to like television when she did musical comedy/variety on The Garry Moore Show
Carol Burnett on how she became a regular on The Garry Moore Show
Carol Burnett on her favorite moment on The Garry Moore Show - on her last day on the show when the cast purposely ruined a scene to see how she'd react
Carol Burnett on working with Garry Moore on The Garry Moore Show and his generosity toward the cast

Kevin Carlisle

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Kevin Carlisle on dancing on The Garry Moore Show, and how dancing on television was different from dancing on the stage
Kevin Carlisle on becoming a choreographer on The Garry Moore Show
Kevin Carlisle on a typical work week as choreographer on The Garry Moore Show, and on picking dancers
Kevin Carlisle on working with the guest stars of The Garry Moore Show, and on leaving the show

Diahann Carroll

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Diahann Carroll on performing on The Garry Moore Show

Robert Clary

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Robert Clary on appearing on The Garry Moore Show

Andy Rooney with Emerson College

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Andy Rooney on writing for television shows, including Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and The Garry Moore Show

Bill Dana

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Bill Dana on breaking in new comedic material, live, on The Garry Moore Show as part of the comedy team "Dana and Wood"
Bill Dana on his character "Jose Jimenez" who first appeared  as "Jose the Astronaut" on The Garry Moore Show

Sam Denoff

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Sam Denoff on the mistake that "made" The Garry Moore Show

John Frankenheimer

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John Frankenheimer on observing The Gary Moore Show

Hal Gurnee

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Hal Gurnee on directing The Garry Moore Show
Hal Gurnee on being fired from The Garry Moore Show for punching Joe Cates
Hal Gurnee on Garry Moore and his former co-star Carol Burnett
Hal Gurnee on Lily Tomlin on The Garry Moore Show
Hal Gurnee on directing The Garry Moore Show from The Ed Sullivan Theater on CBS

Buck Henry

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Buck Henry on becoming a writer on The Garry Moore Show; on being the "parody" specialist on that show
Buck Henry on making Vinny Bogart, the head writer on The Garry Moore show, laugh
Buck Henry on the challenges of writing for The Garry Moore Show; on writing for someone else's voice
Buck Henry on why he enjoyed writing for The Garry Moore Show; because of all the interesting guest stars

Don Knotts

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Don Knotts on his "nervous man" act that he performed on The Garry Moore Show and Tonight (with Steve Allen)
Don Knotts on a practical joke Garry Moore played-- passing Don Knotts off as a network executive

Jerry Lewis

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Jerry Lewis on performing with Carol Burnett on The Garry Moore Show

Charles Lisanby

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Charles Lisanby on designing sets for The Garry Moore Show
Charles Lisanby on designing a set for Barbra Streisand on The Garry Moore Show

Robert Mott

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Robert Mott on working on The Garry Moore Show

Andy Rooney

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Andy Rooney on writing for The Garry Moore Show

Jonathan Winters

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Jonathan Winters on his early appearances on The Garry Moore Show  

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