Sunday, September 2, 2012

Game Show Photo Essay #3: The Password is "Neckerchief."

(All images courtesy GSN, unless noted otherwise.)

THE following was taken from episodes of Password Plus that originally aired on NBC from May 7-11, 1979.

Sixteen weeks into the game show's run, a unique fashion statement was being made loud and clear:

Episode 86 (Monday)

Episode 87 (Tuesday)

Episode 88 (Wednesday)

Episode 89 (Thursday)

Episode 90 (Friday)

For those who don't recognize their faces or names, Susan and Bill are best known for their acting roles on the long-running NBC soap opera Days of our Lives. (As of this date, it's the only soap left on NBC's schedule, and they still appear on there from time to time.) Back then, for those who were fans of DOOL, their guest appearance had to be sweet stuff. For anyone who avoided soaps, however, it must have been a downer, until the "strangers" proved they could play the game. (While I've never watched daytime or nighttime soaps, I have seen shows like Degrassi Junior High and the older, serialized Doctor Who, so I know how easy it is to get addicted to a good continuing story. If your favorite soap was among those cancelled within the last five years, I empathize with your pain.)

(Google images)
From what I've gathered upon further reading, back when soaps were popular and plentiful, Susan and Bill were once like soap royalty. That they made the cover of Time in '76 seems to be proof of this, though they might've also gotten there because the cover story mentioned Thurgood Marshall (a Supreme Court Justice of the era) was a fan of DOOL. When the magazine was published, DOOL was a ratings winner; a year later, its viewership began to decline, brought on by the combination of stiff competition (ABC's All My Children) and a bad time slot. So it went when Bill and Susan came to play PP, the "power couple" wasn't quite so much. Even so, after recently looking at these episodes on GSN, I got the sensation the two seemed to have a slight air of aloofness about them, unlike the vibes I've gotten when more familiar faces (like Bert Convy, Joyce Bulifant, even David Letterman) have appeared on these reruns. In no way were these two snobs; they played the game well (Bill fared better, advancing to the "Alphabetics" bonus round more times than Susan), but there were moments where some of the contestants' excited reactions during play actually startled them, suggesting these soap stars (at the very least) hadn't been bowling in years, if at all. Then again, while a measure of detachment is synonymous with actors, most conceal it better than Susan and Bill did on PP.

Unlike the Password of the '60s, putting on nice suits and dresses wasn't a regular occurrence on PP, so celebrities were now often trying to wear clothes as semi-casual as what the contestants wore.

Overall, Susan's attire is late-'70s OK, except for Tuesday's pink dress, which is best described as a modified housecoat. (Remember those?)

If his scarf were red, he could've
sold Sugar Frosted Flakes.
As for Bill--where to begin?  Call them scarves, neckerchiefs, bandanas or whatever, his neckwear comes off as an odd mixture of cowboy and upper crust. On Monday, the one he sports looks the least ridiculous with what he's wearing; from there, his wardrobe choices are compromised by their usage. He absolutely doesn't need them with what he's wearing on Tuesday or Wednesday. Worse, how he chooses to wear Thursday's scarf in conjunction with a buttoned-up vest and buttoned-down shirt suggests he's auditioning to be a Chippendales dancer later in the day, possibly in Tombstone, AZ. He nearly comes back from the brink with Friday's "outfit," but the bright yellow scarf makes him look more like a singing cowboy. (Not a stretch, really, as he began his career in showbiz as a singer.)

The "camouflage" in action. (BBC/Warner home Video)
The only scarves I've ever put on have been for wintertime, so I don't know of the appeal of wearing them other times of the year. I do know women sport them more creatively than men, and both will utilize them as a kind of camouflage over a neck that's not as firm as it used to be. As you can see (above), it doesn't always work so great, but they are a cheaper alternative to plastic surgery. And if you see a dog with one on, well, that's just frigging cute!

(Google images)

On a closing note, kudos to the the individual who changed Susan's PP billing after the first show was recorded (ladies before gentlemen, remember), but why wasn't the Monday episode corrected in post production?

Keeping it trivial,

Fang Shih-yu, Shaolin Temple.

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