“Match Game” Observations

I’ve been watching a lot of “Match Game” on Game Show Network lately. Here are a few very serious and scientific things I have observed.

1. Gene Rayburn, the host of the show, can barely keep it in his pants. He flirts with everything on two legs (including Bob Barker). Wikipedia says Gene was living in Cape Cod during this juncture in his life and would fly out to L.A. every two weeks to tape a weekend of “Match Game” episodes. So, in a sense, Rayburn was like some kind of wild beast they kept sequestered from humanity, bringing him out at designated times to go hog wild with that elongated 1970s microphone. Or maybe Gene Rayburn was just a horny son of a bitch. Who knows? At any rate, I hate this knowledge because it’s made me envision that weaselly bastard masturbating on planes.

2. Richard Dawson seems remarkably drunker on “Match Game” than on his version of “Family Feud.” This makes me wonder which position was really more work—asking ugly people from the Midwest generic questions on “Feud” or trying to answer generic questions along with ugly people from the Midwest on “Match Game.” They seem equal to me. More is at stake on “Match,” but the celebs do get to sit down. Rayburn is the poor idiot who had to keep walking back and forth three feet for thirty minutes at a time.

3. “Match Game” is one of those rare pieces of entertainment where a flamboyantly/unapologetically gay man—Charles Neslon Reilly—can just cut loose and queen it up without offending people or causing any kind of uproar. That’s always pretty great to see, but it makes me wonder just who the hell was watching “Match Game” when it originally aired. Conventional wisdom suggests our society was less accepting of “alternative lifestyles” back in the 1970s. Were conservatives not up in arms over Chuckie R’s mincing ways? On the other hand, Liberace. Legions of housewives followed that guy for years without realizing (refusing to accept?) there’d never be a Mrs. Libby. Was this self-delusion? Did TV viewers of 1970s America trick themselves into believing CNR was just one of those fancy New York boys who liked scarves? I guess when you put Reilly next to guys like Nispey Russell and Richard Dawson, he really doesn’t seem that gay.

Meanwhile, Fannie Flagg was a lesbian that whole time. Do you think she ever got pissed off that Charles wore his sexuality like a fucking top hat and gloves? I mean, not to undercut the greatness of CNR, but he didn’t really do anything with his life outside of being bitchy on game shows. That’s what he’s remembered for: being the gay guy on “Match Game.” Fannie Flagg was sitting on Fried Green Tomatoes all those years. I wonder how she feels about that. I wonder how the homosexual community feels about that. There’s a juxtaposition there I’m a little afraid to get into because I don’t want to offend anyone. For the record, I think Charles Nelson Reilly was an unspeakable legend and Fannie seems just amazing, and they’re definitely both on my short list of celebs from any time period I’d kill to hang out with.

4. On every episode of “Match Game” I’ve seen, Gary Burghoff is like the biggest asshole ever. He’s just ragging on everybody in a not-very-joking manner like a miserable little dwarf. What’s up, Radar? Angry you’re always under Harry Morgan’s thumb?

5. Preliminary research has proven that Brett Somers is remarkably hotter on “Match Game ’73” than she is on “Match Game ’74.” That separation from Jack Klugman really took its toll.

6. How come they kept updating the year like that? Did they think people would think they were just showing reruns for five years or whatever? That’s really weird. Imagine if they did that with other shows. “ALF ’90.” “Lost ’08.” Weird, right?

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24 responses to ““Match Game” Observations”

  1. Never in a million years says :

    You already offended. hasgtag HaterswillHate.

  2. joe pad says :

    Not a very astute observation. Mean spirited really.

  3. Every Mann says :

    Working the night shift where Match Game keeps me awake in the wee hours, and googling the relationship between Brett & Fannie (on a Fannie-less episode, Brett just said, “Come back home Fannie darin’…all is forgiven and we love ya”) brings me to this page. The actual game is really stupid–moreso than I remembered it being as a little kid–but the show itself is curiously addicting.

    Spot on with many of your observations. Rayburn is embarrassingly creepy; what was this guy’s deal? He’s particularly enamored with Jo Ann Pflug and he gropes her on every episode.

    Yeah, Radar is completely not funny and he’s obviously very proud of his lame Charles Nelson Reilly impersonations.

    Richard Dawson seems to have transformed instantly @1975 from a 60s mod with the turtlenecks & Roger Daltrey hairdo into a Florida guy wearing old man polyesters.

    They’re all dead now…except for Betty White!

  4. jay courthub says :

    no fanny Flagg is still a live still to this day she is 72

  5. Linda says :

    I also grew up with Match Game and love watching the reruns. Agree with your blog – but have to admit I cannot stand: Joyce Bulifant and Patty Deutsch. I always feel sorry for the panelist who has to match them – dingdongs!

  6. Linda says :

    Anybody ever notice that Rayburn either did not wear underwear or wore boxers because you can see where it hangs – on the left side. Either he had super saggy balls or was semi-hard.

  7. Steve Marethyu (@MarethyuSteve) says :

    Completely agree about Gary Burghoff!

  8. charles savage says :

    It was odd when Brett would give others a hard time for their bad answers when she regularly gave terrible answers.

  9. Tony says :

    I actually sympathized with Gene when he got visibly impatient with the celebrities (especially Brett) for droning on and on. Despite Richard usually giving the most astute answers, I never understood why he imitated Stan Laurel or Paul Lynde when doing so. Moreover, his sexual obsession with practically every female contestant was not only smarmy but creepy. And Gary was characteristically obnoxious and embarrassingly unfunny. I could go on, of course, but I’ll close by observing that way too many of the contestants were hopeless morons.

  10. Paul says :

    I would list Gary (Radar) on the top of my list as the most annoying and least favorite television personality I’ve ever watched. I don’t use the word hate but if I did he would define it. If he or a skunk were in the middle of the road and I was driving a car there would be brake marks in front of the skunk.

  11. Frank says :

    Funny stuff. CNR was hilarious being who he was. Gene practically taped a contestant with coconut perfume on. And Gary was brutally mean to Brett. Couldn’t believe it.

  12. Anonymous says :

    So fun to read everyone’s observations of Match Game from back in the 70s. There are other links of interviews with the regulars including Brett Somers that followers like myself would enjoy. Brett talks about Gene’s flirty personality. At the time, Gene, Brett, and Charles were in their 50s with Gene being the oldest.

    I believe Gene was in his early sixties by the time the show was canceled after the 1983 season. I like the fact that they put the year on the show. I was 14 in 1973 coming home from my Freshman year in HS to catch the last 15 min at 2:45 usually. Brett was one of my favorites, and Gary who is often seen in the repeats today as I think BUZZR is conservative and avoids Charles’ appearances. Just my guess. Notice the happy married contestants.
    Gary B treated Brett horribly, and people are right, seldom if at all funny. He did a good Charles impression, however.

    After my mother retired in 78 she loved watching the show. Coming form a liberal moderate Catholic family, we laughed our heads off. Same with Golden Girls.

    Back on Gene Rayburn, he was the original host of the serious Match Game of the 60s in New York, and when asked to do the reboot when it moved to Los Angeles after about 5 years off the air, he said he would do it (commuting from New England bi-weekly as mentioned), with a condition to have it be funny.
    Gene was awkward in some of his humor, but a nice guy, truthfully. Yes, he was
    very flirtatious to the point where Brett said to him, “hey, stop that” when Gene
    kept at one of the losing contestants as she was saying goodbye as the platform
    circled backstage. He went offstage with her. I think someone said they wondered if his wife was watching.

    I think, all of it was “tongue and cheek” to put it bluntly.

    Brett came from the stage, so she had a seasoned approach to things. I liked her a lot, and I thought the regulars could be very hard on her with their humor.
    Just today, however, Gene went up to the second tier to give her a peck and say
    how much he loved her. Very classy. Gary was awful today towards her. Have to
    wonder why even Charles got on her case too, as well as Richard.

    Only a few times could you see hurt feelings, especially with Brett. She maintained her professionalism well, and laughed off the mostly bad jokes.

    She and Gene and Charles were very good pals, along with Fanny Flag, who’s real name is Patricia Neal. Obviously, she had to come up with a stage name because of the famous movie actress from the golden era.

    How I miss the laughter then, and how I loath this age of constant cheap jokes.

    Wasn’t it fun watch the antics. On a repeat I never saw in the 70s was with a professional female wrestler contestant (like Zsa Zsa Gabor in speech) from Transylvania, where she gave a demo and tripped up Alex Karis (from Monday Night Football) using one of her wrestling moves. Totally hysterical.

  13. Anonymous says :

    Oh, meant to clarify, I agree, Gary was the wrong choice in subbing for Charles. He was my least favorite, and I have a feeling Brett had issues with him, though professionally she did everything right. Gary is doing fine today, my guess, and I hope he does not read these comments

  14. Tony says :

    A brief observation on the celebrities who made occasional appearances: They were, and pretty much without exception, awful. Among the worst were Jimmie Walker, Bill Daily, and Alex Karras. I can think of others, of course, but the one who embarrassed himself the most was probably Walker, whose unfunny remarks and antics make me cringe even 40 years later.

  15. Anonymous says :

    I have to stick up for Gary B. I found him caustic witty and most of all real. Brett S on the other hand was so phony and demanding everyone’s attention at all times, especially the more inebriated she got. I really felt for Charles N R he had so much patience dealing with her.

  16. Tony says :

    I’ve seen female vs. female contestants and male vs. female, but never male vs. male. I wonder why.

  17. D J Richert says :

    Not a bad article but I get the impression you didnt watch the show much. I thought the show was decent and their were some genuinely funny episodes and I really enjoyed most of them. They did, however, fall into ruts where the stars seemed more intent on being funny then matching the “ugly midwesteners”. And I think the reason most gays were tolerated better was because they didn’t rub their sexual perversions in your face like they do these days. I mean, I don’t go around telling total strangers that I am a heterosexual. I really don’t want to know what peoples mental illness is.

  18. Kevin says :

    Absolutely agree about Gary Burghoff. I’m watching on Buzzer and Amazon. He filled “Chuck’s” seat for an extended period and he’s incredibly annoying. Always talking over others, begging for attention. Always loved him on M*A*S*H, but I’m finding these episodes hard to watch.

  19. slee says :

    Sommers,worst most annoying person on any show from that era…I do enjoy the reruns from the seventies but she actually spoils so many of the shows…talentless and jealous of any of the attractive actresses that appeared on the show…BTY..someone on this site wrote Richard Dawson was a drunk…HE DID NOT DRINK..so get your facts straight…

  20. Tony says :

    One of the funniest moments was when a female contestant told Gene that her 14-year-old son was a competitive swimmer. “He must have a beautiful body,” said Gene with massive inappropriateness. The mother compounded the awkwardness by saying, somewhat incestuously, “He does.” What that kid must have gone through in school after that.

  21. sandi paul says :

    I grew up on Match Game and my Father would tell me over & over how much he could not stand Brett Somers and I as an adult now understand why. She was by far the most annoying and unfunny person in that show. My daughter has seen those reruns and remembers her G-pa constantly showing his disdain for Brett and now that she is an adult also understands ( like me) on why G-pa disliked Brett. She was the most annoying, obnoxious, not even close to being funny person they kept as a regular on that show. We watch this show on Buzzr today and can’t stand to listen to her trying to act funny, during the question and answering part and then always having to give this long explanation of her answer which is not funny in the least. How she was allowed to be a regular, married to Jack Klugman or not, is still a mystery to me. That woman was obnoxious, rude, unfunny and irritating.

  22. SteveW says :

    I too grew up watching Match Game, and some questions come to mind. How could a smart guy like Jack Klugman end up marrying an obnoxious and unfunny person like Brett Somers? She had a comment for everything, did not like many of her co-celebrities, and every time she spoke or laughed, it was akin to scratching one’s fingernails on a blackboard. As for Charles Nelson Reilly, he was pretty funny. As for Gary Burghoff, he should have remained on the farm in Iowa. He was not funny at all.

  23. SteveO says :

    As a child, I could not form an opinion of Brett Somers, because I was only a child. The only comment I made to my Mother was that, “boy, is she ugly, and has the voice of a witch”. Now, as I watch the repeats of Match Game on both Buzzr and GSN, I can formulate an opinion on this so called icon (in her mind). She was not obnoxious, because that would mean she didn’t know what she was doing. Rather, she was the most arrogant person I had ever seen, as she thought, with all her wigs, that she was beautiful. She was FUGLY! With that shrill voice and ugly mannerisms, she WAS the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz.
    The only way I would ever order the DVD Sets of this show, is if they went through every tape and replaced this FUGLY Witch with someone more appealing.

  24. Tony says :

    An observation or two on some of the tension that existed among the celebrities: Brett couldn’t stand Gary (and for good reason), while Richard was blatantly hostile toward Charles and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Brett. Not sure how Charles felt about Richard, but Brett spoke very negatively about him at a later date. Kaye Stevens, whom I found very irritating on the show, couldn’t keep her hands off Richard. A different kind of tension, but tension nevertheless.

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