Game Shows Wiki

The topic of this page has a Wikia of its own: Match Game wikia.

Gene Rayburn (1962–1982)
Bert Convy (1989)
Ross Shafer (1990–1991)
Charlene Tilton (1996)
Michael Burger (1998–1999)
Ricki Lake (2006)
Andy Daly (2008)
Alec Baldwin (2016–2021)
Johnny Olson (1962–1982)
Gene Wood (1989–1991)
Unknown (1996)
Paul Boland (1998–1999)
Rich Fields (2006)
Scott Reside (2008)
Steve French (2016–2021)
Wayne Howell (1963)
Don Pardo (1964–1965)
Mel Brandt (1966–1967)
Roger Tuttle (1968–1969)
Howard Reig (1969)
Bill Hallaran (1969)
Bern Bennett (1975)
Bob Hilton (1991)
NBC Pilot: Taped 12/5/1962
NBC Daytime: 12/31/1962 – 9/26/1969
CBS Pilots: Taped 5/19/1973
CBS Daytime: 7/2/1973 – 4/20/1979
Syndication (Weekly): 9/8/1975 – 9/13/1981
Syndication (Daily): 9/10/1979 – 9/10/1982
Unsold Pilot (The New Match Game): 1983
Pilots: Taped 10/1/1989
ABC Daytime: 7/16/1990 – 7/12/1991
Unsold Pilot (MG2): Taped 1996
Syndication (Daily): 9/21/1998 – 5/21/1999 (reruns aired until 9/17/1999)
CBS Primetime (Gameshow Marathon): 6/22/2006
Unsold Pilots for TBS: Taped 6/26/2008
Match Game 2016.jpg
ABC Primetime: 6/26/2016 – 7/28/2021
Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions (1962–1982)
Mark Goodson Productions (1989–1991)
All American Television (1996)
Pearson Television (1998-1999)
(Fremantle)Media North America (2006, 2008, 2016-2021)
Granada (2006)
Entertain the Brutes (2016–2021)
El Dorado Pictures (2016–2021)
Jim Victory Television (1975–1982)
Tribune Entertainment (1996)
Pearson Television (1998–1999)

Match Game is the long-running game show where six celebrities try to match two contestants and vice versa, simply by filling in the blanks. If the contestants do it very well, they win lots of money.

The series was also known by these titles as:
The Match Game (1962-1969)
Match Game 7x (1973-1979)
Match Game PM (1975-1981)
MG2 [The Match Game] (1996 pilot)

Rules for the NBC Version[]

Two teams of three players (consisting of two civilian contestants & one celebrity team captain), competed in this early version which was a game of judgment. Host Rayburn read a question in which the possibilities are endless; plus, they weren't restricted to fill-in-the-blank types. All six players wrote down their answers on their cards and raised their hands to indicate that they were done. Each player revealed their answers one player at a time, and their objective was to match their teammates. For each match the team made, they scored 25 points (10 points early in the run). If no match was made whatsoever, Gene reread the question, and the players rewrote their answers (they can be the same or can be different). The first team to reach 100 points (make four matches (10 early in the run)) won $100 and went on to play the Audience Match.

Audience Match[]

In the Audience Match, the winning team attempted to match members of the previous studio audience. Host Rayburn asked three questions, and on each question, the team gave individual verbal answers that they think was the number one answer (they can agree or disagree on each other's answers). The contestants divide $50 for each player on the team they did give the #1 answer for a maximum of $150, so with three questions, they can win up to $450.

The Telephone Match[]

On February 27, 1967, the show added a "Telephone Match" game, in which a home viewer and a studio audience member attempted to match a simple fill-in-the-blank question, similar to the 1970s' "Head-To-Head Match". A successful match won a jackpot, which started at $500 and increased by $100 per day until won.


The pilot was exactly the same as the series except that the scoring format was different. In the main game, each match was worth 10 points with 50 points (five matches) needed to win. The contestants on the winning team split $100. Each match made in the Audience Match was worth $25 for maximum of $75 on each question. Four questions were asked, so the maximum total was $300.

Rules for the CBS & 1970's Syndicated Versions[]

Two contestants, one of them being a returning champion, competed. The champion was seated in the upstage (red circle) seat and the challenger was seated in the downstage (green triangle [in the pilot, it was a blue triangle]) seat. On Match Game PM and the daily syndicated version, a coin toss was held backstage to determine the positions. The object was to match the answers of as many of the six celebrity panelists as possible on fill-in-the-blank statements.

The main game was played in two rounds that labeled "1" & "2". The opponent was given a choice of two statements labeled either "A" or "B". Rayburn then read the statement. While the contestant pondered an answer, the six celebrities wrote their answers on index cards. After they finished, the contestant was polled for an answer. Gene then asked each celebrity — one at a time, beginning with #1 in the upper left hand corner — to respond.

While early questions were similar to the original NBC version (e.g., "Name a type of muffin" and "Every morning, John puts _________ on his cereal"), the questions quickly became more humorous. Comedy writer Dick DeBartolo, who had participated in the 1960s Match Game, now contributed broader and saucier questions for Gene. Frequently, the statements were written with bawdy, double entendre answers in mind. A classic example: "Did you catch a glimpse of that girl on the corner? She has the world's biggest _________."

Frequently, the audience responded appropriately as Gene critiqued the contestant's answer (for the "world's biggest" question, he might show disdain to an answer such as "fingers" or "bag" and compliment an answer such as "rear end" or "boobs", often also commenting on the audience's approving or disapproving response). The audience usually would groan or boo when a contestant gave a bad answer, whereas they would cheer and applaud in approval of a good answer. There were a handful of potential answers that were prohibited, the most notable being any synonym for genitalia.

The contestant earned one point for each celebrity who wrote down the same answer (or reasonably similar as determined by the judges; for example, "rear end" could be matched by "bottom", "behind", "derrière", "fannie", "hiney", etc.) up to a maximum of six points for matching everyone. After play was completed on one contestant's question, Gene read the statement on the other card for the opponent and play was identical.

Popular questions featured "Dumb Dora" or her male counterpart, "Dumb Donald". These questions would often begin, "Dumb Dora/Donald is/was so dumb..." or "Dumb Dora/Donald is/was REALLY dumb." To this, the audience would respond en masse, "How dumb IS/WAS he/she?" Then Gene would finish the question. Other common subjects of questions were Superman/Lois Lane, King Kong/Fay Wray, panelists on the show (most commonly Brett Somers), politicians, and Howard Cosell. Gene always played the action for laughs, and he frequently tried to read certain questions in character; for example, he would recite questions involving a made-up character named "Old Man Periwinkle", or "102-year-old Mr. Periwinkle", in a weak, quavering voice (he also did Periwinkle's female counterpart, "Old Mrs. Pervis"). Charles Nelson Reilly, who admitted in '77 he was Brett Somers' rival (as they often argued), one of the regular panelists and one who was often involved with directing Broadway plays, would often make remarks regarding Gene's acting such as "I like when you act" and "That was mediocre" when Gene did a voice like this; this tended to draw a big laugh from the audiences. At times, questions would deal with the fictitious (and often sleazy) country of "Nerdo Crombezia".

On Match Game PM and the daily syndicated version whichever player was ahead in points after Round 1 always began by choosing a question first in Round 2. This rule ensured that both players would be able to play two meaningful questions. (Without this rule, a player who had only answered one question could be ahead of another player who had played both his/her questions, rendering the final question moot). Only celebrities that a contestant did not match could play this second round. On the CBS version, challengers always chose a question first in the next round.

The second round questions were generally easier and were usually puns that had a "definitive" answer (for instance, "Did you hear about the new religious group of dentists? They call themselves the Holy _____.", where the definitive answer would be "Molars"), whereas the first round usually had a number of possible answers. This was to help trailing contestants pick up points quickly.

On Match Game PM, a third round was added after Season One as the games proved to be too short to fill the half-hour. Again, the only celebrities who played were those who did not match that contestant in previous rounds.

The player who matched more celebrities at the end of the game was declared the winner. If the players had the same score at the end of "regulation", the scores were reset to 0-0. On PM (or on the syndicated daytime show if time was running short), a time-saving variant of the tie-breaker was used that reversed the game play. The contestants would write their answers first on a card in secret, then the celebrities were canvassed to give their answers. Originally, the regulars (Brett, Charles, and Richard) would give their answers, later it was changed to having all six celebrities play. The first celebrity response to match a contestant's answer gave that contestant the victory; if there was still no match (which was rare), the round was replayed with a new question. On the CBS version, the tie-breaker went on until there was a clear winner. If it came to the sudden-death tie-breaker, only the final question (the one that ultimately broke the tie) was kept and aired.

The CBS daytime version had returning champions and the show "straddled" – that is, episodes often began and ended with games in progress.

Sign Changes[]

At the end of the New Year's Eve episodes from 1973-1979, they'll changed the sign of the Match Game. They'll brought down the old sign (changed by Charles Nelson Reilly) and then they will be brought up, they'll brought down the new sign with an lot of balloons and the Auld Lang Syne song. On December 31, 1975 episode, Charles Nelson Reilly brought two balloons on the show, pops the balloon says "Match Game '75" and Rayburn showed to the audience which the second balloon says "Match Game '76", he popped the second balloon which it did not work then he showed to the audience a blue card where it had a balloon with the word seventy-seven written on it, which it did not work then he showed to the audience his thumb having the year seventy-eight written in black marker on it. On the December 31, 1976 episode, Mark Goodson shown up, he made a speech and Rayburn read a Old Man Periwinkle (replaced by Old Man Goodson) styled-question: "Old Man Goodson said, "By the time it gets to be Match Game '99, I'll need a new _____" and thank the people who've been with the show and the producers who've been with the show. On January 2, 1978, Charles Nelson Reilly came to Rayburn to tell him a mistake and he told him it's the wrong one. On December 31, 1978, he and Brett Somers came to change the sign of Match Game '78 to Match Game '79. Charles unscrewed the old one and it's all unhooked, and which Rayburn does not work, so Charles got a plug.

On the CBS daytime show, champions could stay until defeated or reached the network's limit of $25,000. Originally, that was the maximum earning for any champion, but the rule was later changed so that while champions were still retired after exceeding the $25,000 limit, they got to keep everything up to $35,000. During the six-year run of Match Game on CBS, only one champion retired undefeated (unfortunately, 1 of the 10 shows off-air did that after the last on-air broadcast of Match Game '79 on Friday April 20, 1979 on CBS-TV).

On the daily 1979-82 syndicated version, two contestants would play two games against each other, and then both were retired. The show was timed out so that two new contestants appeared each Monday; this was necessary as the tapes of the show were shipped between stations and the weeks couldn't be aired in any discernible order (a common syndication practice at the time, known as "bicycling"). If a Friday show ran short, audience members sometimes got to play a game where one panelist was asked a "Super Match"-style fill-in question, to which they wrote their answer. Gene then went into the audience and asked random people who indicated that they wanted to play to match the panelist. If correct, they won a $50 from Gene; if not, Gene continued on to other audience members until the $50 was won. If enough time was left, a second panelist would be asked a new question and play continued as before. From observations, this Audience Game was only played on only three occasions during the show's three seasons in syndication.

Episodes of Match Game PM were self-contained, with two new contestants each week.

Question Podium
Contestant Area

Super Match[]

The winner of the game went on to play the (Big Money) Super Match, which consisted of the Audience Match and the Head-To-Head Match segments, for additional money. On the CBS version, the winner of the game won $100.

The Super Match was referred to as the "Jackpot Match" in the 1973 pilot.

Audience Match[]

A two to four word fill-in-the-blank phrase was given, and it was up to the contestant to choose the most common response based on a studio audience survey. After consulting with three celebrities on the panel for help, the contestant chose an answer they liked the best, or chose one of their own that they thought of themselves. The answers were then revealed; the most popular answer in the survey was worth $500, the second-most popular $250 and the third-most popular $100. If a contestant failed to match any of the three answers, the bonus round ended. Two Audience Matches were played on Match Game PM. On at least one occasion on Match Game PM, a contestant failed to win any money on either Audience Match; the contestant then got to play a fill-in-the-blank statement with the entire panel for $100 per match ($600 in total) as a consolation prize, or a possible $200 per match ($1,200 in total) when the Star Wheel was instituted. This rarely occurred.

NOTE: The format from this round was later spun-off as a format for Family Feud hosted by former panelist Richard Dawson on ABC Daytime from 1976 until 1985 and in syndication from 1977 until 1985 and from 1994 until 1995 respectively.

Head-To-Head Match[]

The contestant then had the opportunity to win an additional cash prize equal to 10 times what he or she won in the Audience Match (therefore, $5,000, $2,500, or $1,000) by matching another fill-in-the-blank response with a celebrity panelist of his or her choice. In order to win the money, the contestant had to match his or her chosen celebrity's response exactly; this meant that multiple forms of the same word, e.g. singular or plural, were usually accepted, whereas synonyms were not. If successful, he/she won the extra money (the total prize being $1,100/$2,750/$5,500). Thus, a maximum of $5,600 ($100 was won for winning the game) could be won on the daytime version per game and Super Match ($10,600 when the Star Wheel was instituted). On Match Game PM, a maximum of $11,000 could be won ($21,000 when the Star Wheel was instituted; this occurred several times).

Richard Dawson was the most frequently-chosen celebrity in the 1970s version. His knack for matching contestants was so great that producers tried to discourage contestants from repeatedly choosing him, even before the introduction of the Star Wheel. In 1975, a rule change was made, stipulating that a returning champion could not choose the same celebrity as they did in their last Head-To-Head Match; they had to choose one of the other 5 panelists. This rule change only lasted six weeks.

Star Wheel[]

The "Star Wheel" was introduced in 1978 and was used until the syndicated version ended in 1982. Contestants spun the wheel to determine which celebrity they played with in the Head-To-Head Match, and could double their potential winnings if the wheel landed on an area of 5 gold stars under each celebrity's first name (later changed to three individual stars per celebrity to increase the difficulty of obtaining a double later on both). Should there be more than one panelist with the same name, their last names were also displayed on the wheel to prevent confusion with 1 initial letter (this only occurred when Richard Paul and Richard Dawson appeared together as Richard P. and Richard D.). Later, only their initial of their last names were shown on the wheel. For example, Bill D. and Bill C. for Bill Daily and Bill Cullen.

The wheel was added to prevent people from constantly choosing Richard Dawson, although the first time it was used it landed on Richard nonetheless. This caused the rest of the panel to get up and leave, leading fellow star Charles Nelson Reilly to refer to it on that episode as "the famed and fixed Star Wheel". Also, Mary Wickes blurted out, "Do you know what that wheel cost us? And it's right back to Richard!"

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The Set[]

Wacky Moments[]

This show is also known for its whack job moments, and here are a few of them.

Carol Burnett & Friends Visits Match Game[]

The series The Carol Burnett Show was recorded at the studio next door to the one where Match Game took place. Totally unannounced, Carol, Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway and Jim Nabors walked over to the Match Game set and interrupted the game taking place. Gene had them sit on the stairs between the panelists and the players and play along with a question, using pens & cards donated by some of the panelists. Their responses did not count toward the score of the player, even though some of them DID match the given player.

Gene Attacks[]

Several times throughout the course of the series, Gene would playfully attack some members of the crew. One time, when he was attacking the camera, it hit him on the head!

Friendly Riot[]

In one episode from 1974, a real out-of-control moment occurred. First of all, one of the rules in the game was that specifics cannot match generics unless otherwise noted; what happened was that some answers were not accepted and it caused a real ruckus. The question in question: "Jack said last year I went on the garlic diet boy did I lose BLANK." The answer given by the contestant, whose name is Gloria, was "Girlfriend". She managed to match the top tier despite a minor setback involving Nipsey Russell, whose answer was "Friends", the judge buzzed Nipseys’ answer, but Richard protested and the judge was forced to give the contestant the match. The other answers given by the top and bottom tier (Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, Jackie Joseph, Richard Dawson, & Jo Anne Worley) were the same, "Friends", but again the judge said no, only this time he did not reverse his decision (Jackie's answer was originally accepted, but was quickly buzzed). With the riot still active, Gene went to Jo Anne Worley, the last in line; Jo was excited in showing her answer, but she eventually did. Her answer was "Friends"; as Jo feared and it got buzzed, making the riot and the booing larger.

School Riot[]

In one episode from 1977, a real out-of-control moment occurred. First of all, one of the rules in the game was that specifics cannot match generics unless otherwise noted; what happened was that some answers were not accepted and it caused a real ruckus. The question in question: "Dumb Dora is so dumb ("HOW DUMB IS SHE?!") she sent her cultured pearls to BLANK." The answer given by the contestant, whose name was Craig, was "School". He managed to match the top tier despite a minor setback involving Charles Nelson Reilly, whose answer was "Scuba Diving School"; the judge buzzed Charles’ answer, but Charles protested and the judge was forced to give the contestant the match. The other answers given by the top tier (Ed Asner & Brett Somers) were the same, "College", but here's where everything went south: Debralee Scott & Richard Dawson each said "Finishing School", but again the judge said no, only this time he did not reverse his decision (Debralee's answer was originally accepted, but was quickly buzzed). This really riled up Debralee & Richard, who then started (you guessed it) a riot. Gene tried everything to regain control but to no avail. With the riot still active, Gene went to Patti Deutsch, the last in line; Patti was super nervous in showing her answer, but she eventually did. Her answer was "Night School"; as Patti feared, it got buzzed, making the riot and the booing larger. When the show came back from a break, Charles was lying on the steps just to reenact the aftermath of the now infamous "School Riot" with Brett showing multiple cards (like she occasionally does) to identify the action. Debralee and Richard never took their cards down. Luckily, even though he lost the game 4-3, Craig was invited back to play another game the next week against a new contestant, which he won. Here are the pictures of the infamous activity:

Bag Riot[]

In another episode of 1977, a real real out-of-control moment occurred. First of all, one of the rules in the game was that specifics cannot match generics unless otherwise noted; what happened was that some answers were not accepted and it caused a real ruckus. The question in question: "The Undertaker said, here at Heavenly Acres, we have a special no-frills funeral, instead of a casket, we buried the deceased in a BLANK." The answer given by the contestant, whose name was Marcie, was "Bag.". She managed to match the bottom tier despite a minor setback involving Richard Dawson, whose answer was "6 ft. Plastic Baggie", but the judge said no, he did not reverse his decision (Richard Dawson was originally accepted, but was quickly buzzed). This really riled up Richard, who then started another riot. Gene tried everything to regain control but to no avail. With the riot still active, Gene went to Fannie Flagg, the last in line; Fannie was shocked in showing her answer, but she eventually did. Her answer was "Paper sack"; as Fanni feared, it did not got buzzed. Charles was yelling "Riot" multiple times.

Rotten Spelling[]

On episode #3 of Match Game PM, Joyce Bulifant (even though she matched) misspelled a word; in this case it was the word "stethoscope". Any die-hard Match Game fan knows that spelling does not count whatsoever.

More Rotten Spelling[]

Not only Bulifant had a case of bad spelling mistakes, other celebrities had a few word slips as well, even Betty White.

It's interesting to note that one star who often offered misspelled answers--Fannie Flagg--had a teacher write into the show and suggest that she be tested for having dyslexia, something she had never heard of before. This turned out to be an accurate diagnosis. Yet, since MATCH GAME has ended, Fannie has overcome this disability to become a prolific writer and novelist.[1]

Slide it, Earl![]

There were even hilarious moments during the Super Match, mostly involving Audience Match board operator Earl.

Star Wheel Premiere, Not too Glorious[]

On the day of the premiere of the then-new Star Wheel, the winning contestant just picked up $250 from the Audience Match and became the first person to spin this new wheel. Supposedly it would give the contestant a chance to match anybody else but Richard Dawson, but guess who the wheel landed on?

NOTE: Richard made a Wheel of Fortune reference prior to the spin by saying, "Chuck Woolery comes out and punches you in the mouth."


In the opening of episode 1431 of Match Game '79, Gene came out from the side instead of the big doors roller skating across the entire studio.

Cuckoo (BLANK)![]

On an episode in 1979, after the contestant's Star Wheel landed on Robert Walden, a contestant was given "Cuckoo (BLANK)" and after Robert Walden wrote down his answer, she answered "Cuckoo, Friend and Ollie" and everyone went hysterical, including Gene losing his cool where he spun the wheel and hit the Super Match board as he yelled "RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!" (and Brett said "I QUIT!"), and then corrected himself and said, "It's not Cuckoo, Fran and Ollie. It's Kukla, Sam and Irving!" Soon after mentioning that Kukla, Fran and Ollie were on the show, Robert Walden showed his joke answer, "Accordion", but then threw it in the slot before showing his actual answer, "Clock".

Ticket Plugs[]

Match Game was famous for its unusual ticket plugs just as the game itself. A typical ticket plug showed a headshot of a made-up person (in reality, the headshot was a combination of either two celebrities, two contestants, or one celebrity and one contestant) while Johnny Olson announced the ticket information. These type of mixed-face ticket plugs made their debut in June 1975 but became much more common during the daily syndicated version from 1979 to 1982, during which every episode featured a ticket plug.

Other Moments[]

And here are some more crazy moments uncategorized.

Rules for the 1990–1991 ABC Version[]

Gameplay was the same as the 1970s version except that contestants now matched the stars for money in the main game as well. Also as before, the champion played red & the challenger played green.

Main Game[]

The game was played in two rounds ("1" & "2") just like the 1970s version except that the six celebrities played both rounds regardless if they matched in the first round. As before the contestant going first had a choice of two fill-in-the-blank statements (either "A" or "B"). Ross read the statement, and the stars wrote answers on their cards. When they were finished, the contestant gave his/her answer and the panel showed their answers one at a time. Each match was worth $50 to the contestant for a maximum of $300. After one contestant played his/her question, the other contestant played with the question not chosen.


After each round of classic Match Game, the contestants played a new element to the show called "Match-Up". In the Match-Up round, each contestant chose which star to play with throughout the round. On a contestant's turn, he/she was shown a fill-in-the-blank phrase (ala The Super Match) with two choices on his/her secret screen, the contestant chose the answer he/she thought the star he/she chose will say. The idea for the contestants was to build up their score by matching the selected star as many times as they can within the time limit. The first Match-Up lasted for 30 seconds for each contestant with each match being worth $50 and the second Match-Up (known as Final Match-Up) lasted for 45 seconds with each match being worth $100.

The player with the most money at the end of Final Match-Up was the winner. In the event that the first player playing Final Match-Up did not make it to tie or beat the other contestant, the other player automatically won. If the game ended in a tie, one last Match-Up phrase was shown to both contestants but with three choices. The champion (the red player) chose an answer first while the challenger (the green player) chose one of the remaining answers. After the choices were made, the last celebrity who played Final Match-Up made a choice of his/her own. Originally the star had a choice of all three, later he/she had a choice of the chosen two without any knowledge of who chose what. The player with the answer said by that celebrity won an additional $100 and the game. During the period when the star had a choice of all three answers, if both contestants did not have a successful match, the tiebreaker phrase was thrown out and replaced with another one. On the first show, the red player chose which contestant should play the final Match-Up question (either himself/herself or his/her opponent). The player chosen selected the answer, then chose which celebrity to match. A successful match won the game for the contestant, but an incorrect answer won the game for the opponent.

The winning player kept his/her money and went on to play the Super Match for up to $10,000.

Super Match[]

The Super Match was the same as the 1970s version. When the show started, the payoffs were the same as the 1970s version ($500-$250-$100). Four weeks into the run, the bottom two amounts were increased ($500-$300-$200). The star wheel was reinstated, too, except it had a green pointer which spun instead of the entire wheel, and it had two red dots above/below each celebrity's name for double spots. If the contestant bombed out in the Audience Match, the contestant could still play for $500 (or $1,000 in case of a double) by playing the Head-to-Head Match (later changed to $1,000 [$2,000 if a double occurred]). Unlike the 1970s version, the Head-to-Head prize was not an additional cash prize, but an augmentation to whatever top prize was at stake. The rules for the Head-to-Head were still the same: the contestant and the celebrity must match exactly to win the Super Match. Otherwise, the contestant would only win the money from the Audience Match. If the contestant bombed out of the Audience Match, and missed on the Head-to-Head match, the contestant wins nothing in the Super Match. Contestants stay on until defeated or played the Super Match 5 times.

This version of Match Game died due to the fact that it aired at noon; this time slot was usually standard for newscasts.

The cue for when the "Star Wheel" came down on stage was reused later for the 1992 unsold pilot of The Family Feud Challenge when the "Bullseye" set with three built-in monitors came down on stage.
This version was going to be moved to CBS for its second season and quite possibly replace Family Feud (Combs). Although this was indicated by Shafer on the series' finale, it ultimately never came to pass.
This version is to date, the last daytime network game show to ever air on ABC.

21 contestants made it to their fifth and final day of their championship. Only 11 contestants during the Match Game 90/91 run retired undefeated. The highest top winner was Tracey Fife who retired undefeated with $34,100.

Seven contestants during this run of shows completely struck out in the Super Match (both bombing out of the Audience Match and missing an exact match in the Head To Head)

Four contestants during this run of shows managed to win the full $10,000 twice in the Super Match.

Pilot Rules[]

The rules were basically the same, except the game was played in three rounds with no Match Up Rounds (similar to Match Game PM); plus, the contestants played for points: 1 point per match in the first two rounds, and 2 points per match in Round 3. Also, like the 1970's version, the Super Match prize was cumulative (a maximum of $10,500 possible).[2][3]

Future model of The Price is Right (1994-95 version only) and Cash Tornado and host of Flamingo Fortune, Lisa Stahl was one of the contestants in the pilot.
The Head-To-Head Match "Think Music" was a condensed version of the music used for the pricing games: "Check Game", "Make Your Move" and "Cover Up" on The Price is Right, it was also used as a cue for the unsold 1986 pilot called Oddball hosted by fellow Match Game panelist Jamie Farr, a remake of the short-lived 1964 game show Get the Message.


The "Balls" Incident[]

In the 1989 pilot, Bert Convy asked the question "At the cannibals Halloween bash. Instead of bobbing for apples, they bobbed for _____!", but Teri Copley was completely embarrassed to show her answer of the word "Balls" written on her card as hilarity ensued.

Rules for the 1998 Syndicated Version[]

This version was the same as it has always been except for a few differences:

  • There were five stars instead of six.
  • Contestants now played for points for each match (one point in Round 1, two points in Round 2) but again, all five stars played each round.
  • Similar to the MG2 pilot from 1996, instead of choosing A or B, contestants now chose a pun-laden category.
  • Similar to the current version of Family Feud (Harvey), the questions and answers can become "suggestive" and "raunchy".

The Super Match was played exactly the same even down to its $5,000 payoff. Like the 1990 version, the Head-to-Head prize was not an additional cash prize, but an augmentation to whatever top prize was at stake.

However, unlike previous incarnations, the celebrity stood at a temporary podium and would write his/her answer down on the blue card instead of at the desk. Also, the contestant and his or her celebrity partner were allowed to make eye contact during Head-to-Head, which again was never allowed in any other previous incarnations.

Gameshow Marathon[]

Played exactly like the CBS/PM version during the pre-Star Wheel years, except that the grand prize was worth up to $50,000 for a home viewer. Again, the Head-to-Head prize was not an additional cash prize, but an augmentation to whatever top prize was at stake.


Rules for the 2016-2021 ABC Primetime Version[]

Two full games are played per episode, with no returning champions. Otherwise, the rules are exactly the same as the CBS version. In this version, instead of shapes (mainly triangles and circles), the celebrities have indicator lights on either side of their names. When a celebrity sticks his/her answer in the slot they light up in white. When a match is made, the boxes turn green and when no match is made, the boxes turn red. In the Super Match, the Audience Match payouts are $2,000/$3,000/$5,000, with the Head-to-Head played for five times the money, up to $25,000. Once again, the Head-to-Head prize is not an additional cash prize, but an augmentation to whatever top prize is at stake. If a player bombs in the Audience Match, they still receive $1,000 and a chance to make it $5,000. Except in the 58th Episode Celebration from 2020 (as mentioned below this article) where the payouts are $2,058/$3,058/$5,058 with the Head-to-Head played for five times the money to $5,058 for the first half and to $25,290 for the second half.

Special Episodes[]

So far, in this version, only three episode had special-themes in its 5th season from 2020 until 2021.

Shooting Blanks[]

On May 31, 2020 at the start of season 5 from the very first episode it had a different opening where you have to "get ready to match the suspects" as the five "detectives" (excluding Mario Cantone) from the world of crime drama television featured Jennifer Esposito, Adam Rodriguez, Angie Harmon, Michael Chiklis & Melissa Fumero. In addition, ths episode also had a share of controversy for being "tone deaf"[4]for airing a cop-themed episode amid protest for the late George Floyd along with including handcuffs and other prison-related props.

58th Episode Celebration[]

On September 24, 2020 in its sixth episode, it had a "58th Episode Celebration" where the six celebrities who joined the festivites with Baldwin were: Jerry Ferrara, Constance Zimmer, Chris Sullivan, Caroline Rhea, Ross Matthews & Dascha Polanco. Additionally, the Super Match bonus round became a little upgraded where each of the three amounts ended in $58 in order to celebrate its 58th episode so instead of $2,000/$3,000/$5,000 they were $2,058/$3,058/$5,058 as the top prize for the Head-to-Head played five times the money to $5,058 for the first half and $25,290 for the second half.

Supermatch Screw 58th Episode Celebration.png

Match Gala[]

On July 21, 2021 in its tenth episode, it had a "Match Gala" where "It's the most glittering night of the game show season" as the six panelists were Mario Cantone, Vivica A. Fox, Antonio Brown, Hilaria Baldwin (a.k.a Alec's wife), Fred Armisen & Christie Brinkley.

Unsold & Proposed Pilots[]

1985 Proposed Pilot[]

Plans were made to re-launch Match Game as a stand-alone series in daily syndication in conjunction with the revival of the nighttime version of The Price is Right hosted by Tom Kennedy. Rayburn was once again to serve as host, but he had already committed to Break the Bank ('85) at the time and was unavailable. The project was postponed and reruns from the 1979-1982 daily series aired in its place instead.

1987 Proposed Pilot[]

Rayburn was fired from Break the Bank after 13 weeks and several disputes with the producers, and by late 1986 was once again available. The January 19, 1987 issue of Broadcasting & Cable magazine featured a trade advertisement promoting another five-day-a-week revival attempt in syndication, again with Rayburn as host. The advertisement featured a red-colored version of the 1978-1982 era logo and was promoted as featuring "the biggest names in entertainment" plus "big cash prizes". Coca-Cola Telecommunications was to syndicate the program (see the ad right here in Match Game/Gallery). However, around this time Entertainment Tonight allegedly reported that Rayburn was 70 years old; he was in fact only 69, even though he was still several years older than most producers thought he was. With this, plus his production feuds on Break The Bank and The Match Game Hollywood Squares Hour still relatively recent, the revival project was scrapped. After this incident, Rayburn hosted only one more game show, The Movie Masters for cable channel AMC which ran from August 2, 1989 to January 19, 1990. Rayburn claims that the leaking of his age subjected him to age discrimination for the rest of his life.

1996 Pilot (MG2: The Match Game)[]

Taped September 1996[5]for Syndication by All American Television, hosted by Charlene Tilton.

This format was played entirely different from all other versions. In the front game, the five panelists ("Downtown" Julie Brown, David Chokachi, Gil Gerard, Rondell Sheridan, Kathleen Kinmont) wrote their answers as normal while the two players wrote their own answers down too. However, the celebrities revealed their answers first, followed by the contestant. In addition, as in the 1998 version, cutesy named categories were used rather than "A" and "B", and the scoring system was one point per match in the first round and two points per match in the second round. The winner won $250.

The end game was also radically different from any other previous versions. The first half featured the "Panel Poll", where each celebrity was told to pick an answer from a three-way multiple choice question about their personality. The contestant then picked one of the answers and received $100 per match on the first question and $200 per match on the second question. Finally, the usual "Audience Match" was played. Their winnings from the "Panel Poll" were doubled if they matched the third most popular answer, tripled if they matched the second most popular answer and quintupled (multiplied by five) if they matched the most popular answer for a possible maximum of $7,500.

Tilton was once a panelist herself on the original syndicated version in the early 80s.
Rondell Sheridan would later go on becoming a panelist on the 1998 revival with Michael Burger.
As of November 22, 2018 the full pilot[6]can be seen on Wink Martindale's official YouTube page as part of his ongoing series called "Wink's Vault".

2004 Pilot (What The Blank!)[]

Taped May 8, 2004 for FOX hosted by (the late) Fred Willard and announced by Randy West, this version of the game was an incorporation of 21st-Century elements into the classic game. Just like its counterpart, two contestants were facing the traditional panel of six celebrities who were Andy Kindler, Laura Kightlinger, Zack Galafinakis, (the late) Anna Nicole Smith, Martin Mull and The Coors Twins (a.k.a. Diane & Elaine Kimaszewski) but unlike its counterpart, there were no "A" or "B" choices nor pun-styled categories as the questions were immediately revealed by either a video wall or is delivered to them via a rap by Willard or his announcer West. Then the celebrities would write down their answers on a electronic video tablet instead of a blue card. When the answers were locked in the contestant then gave his/her answer as it appeared on the screen (most likely for the the home viewer to remember) then the celebrities' answers were checked one by one. Each match scored a point as Round 1 scored only 1 point while in Round 2 only scored 2 point. The contestant who scored the most points goes on to play Supermatch.

In Supermatch, it was played like other versions but the most popular response was worth $5,000 while the second was worth $3,000 and the first was worth $2,000. In head-to-head match was also played the same as well but unlike the previous version the celebrity would write his/her answer down on a electronic video tablet while standing up instead of at their desk or at a podium.

FOX abruptly canceled the series before the show made it to air; On May 24, 2013; Randy West has one clip of his announcing as part of a demo reel he uploaded on YouTube. On May 17, 2020; fellow game show host Wink Martindale uploaded a full pilot on his YouTube channel as part of his on going "Wink's Vault" series as a tribute to Willard's death for whom passed away on May 15, 2020 at age 86.

See the "Spin-Offs" Section for details.

2008 Pilot[]

Taped July 22, 2008 for TBS. Hosted by Andy Daly, the panelists were Bob Einstein (as Super Dave Osborne), Sarah Silverman, Scott Thompson, Rashida Jones, Norm MacDonald and Niecy Nash.

While the front game retained the 1970s format, the end game was revamped. Against a 30 second time limit, the player heard five statements with a blank (e.g.: "Hillary Clinton is a ______"). The contestant's job was to fill the blank with the most popular answer. After the clock stopped, the contestant was allowed to change two of them with the help of the celebrities (they only called on one, but helping was encouraged). For each correct guess of the popular answer, $1,000 was awarded. Then came the standard Head-to-Head for double the money, up to $10,000.

The pilot was later shot down in favor of the short-lived, late-night talk show Lopez Tonight hosted by George Lopez which ran from 2009 until 2011.

NOTE: The set was not the same as seen on CBS' Gameshow Marathon.

International versions[]


Several versions were made in Australia. The original 1960s The Match Game was imitated with the same name and hosted by Michael McCarthy.

The second, more commonly-known version was Blankety Blanks and based upon the 1970s version, running from 1977 to 1978. It was presented by Graham Kennedy and became a ratings hit for Network Ten. Like many Australian game shows during the 1970s–1990s (mostly those done by Reg Grundy) this version was remarkably similar to the American show right down to the set, "spinning box" opening, and "Get ready to match the stars!" tagline. The signature music from the American version was not used, however, but was instead replaced by original tracks that were very similar. The format was similar to the US version at the time; however, because it was in Australia, payoffs in the Audience Match were much cheaper (worth only $100 for the most popular answer, $50 for the second-most popular, and $25 for the third-most popular). Afterwards, the Head-to-Head Match was played like always, with 10× the amount won for a successful match (up to $1,000).

A later version appeared on the Nine Network in 1985 hosted by Daryl Somers, and again in 1996 hosted by Shane Bourne. Both version's Super Match had the standard $5,000 top prize.

(This show is not to be confused with an unrelated American show of the same name, which aired on ABC and was hosted by Bill Cullen in 1975.)


An Argentinian version of Match Game hosted by Agustin "Soy Rada" Aristaran runs on eltrece since 2021. Although the set was based on the current Baldwin version from America, its current logo based on the American version as well has no chase lights at all and it also premiered on the very same day as the 50th season of The Price is Right in America (September 13, 2021 to be exact).


Prior to Atomes Crochus (Hooked Atoms), an original short-lived Francophone version ran on TVA from 1976 to 1978, called L'union fait la farce (The Union Makes the Farce), originally hosted by Serge Belair followed by Raymond Lemay later in its run. Its set was very similar to the '73-'78 U.S. version.

Montréal-based Zone3, in association with rights holder RTL, launched a Francophone version, Atomes Crochus (Hooked Atoms) in 2010 on V (formerly TQS).[7] The host of the show is Alexandre Barrette, and the show features regular guests as did the original Match Game. Among the most regular of the guests are Alex Perron (formerly of the Quebec comedy troupe Les Mecs Comiques/The Comic Guys), and Tammy Verge.

The format of the program more closely matched the Ross Shafer version, including a round similar to the Match Up round. Scoring was different (in the main game, matches in round one were worth 25 points and worth 50 points in round two; the Match Up round matches were also worth 50 points). The Super Match and Star Wheel rounds were also played in similar fashion as on the American version, except instead of the Head-to-Head being played for ten times the money earned in the Audience Match, the Audience Match instead determines how much the Head-to-Head is worth, either $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000, with the player playing for $500 if he/she loses the Audience Match. As before, the Star Wheel possibly doubles the amount played for, thus making a top prize of $4,000. This version ended on 22 April 2016 after being on the air for no more than six seasons.

On June 28, 2012, CTV's The Comedy Network announced Zone3 and RTL would now produce 60 episodes of an English-language version, Match Game Canada, on the Atomes Crochus (Hooked Atoms) set in Montréal over the summer for broadcast.[8] It premiered on October 15, 2012, with host Darrin Rose[9] and regulars Debra DiGiovanni and Seán Cullen.[10] All matches in the main game were worth 50 points and the winner received his/her winning score in dollars.

Season 2 premiered on September 3, 2013. Changes include Round 2 matches being worth 100 points, and the Super Match top prize increasing to $5,000 ($2,500/$2,000/$1,500 in the Audience Match, $1000 for no match).

NOTE: Some of the celebrities from this version have also became panelist in the current American version in the Baldwin era such as Caroline Rhea & Ice-T.


The French version is called Les Bons Genies (Good Genies). Hosted by Patrice Laffont, it ran on France 2 for a brief period in 1996. Even though the format plays closely to the short-lived 1990-1991 U.S. version, the main game was played in three rounds.


For this country, they had two versions at the time. The original version was called Schnickschnack (Bells and Whistles, since they don't have a German term for the word "blank") hosted by Klaus Wildbolz aired on ARD from 1975 to 1977. Their format was mostly based on the 1973-1982 U.S. version. Additionally, this version was briefly mentioned by Gene Rayburn in a episode of Match Game '75 and its title was used during one of the main rounds as well (see Match Game/Video Gallery for that clip in particular). Fourteen years later, the show was revived under the name Punkt, Punkt, Punkt (Dot, Dot, Dot) with Mike Kreuger as host for which it ran on two different networks, originally on ARD (the same network where Schnickschnack was aired) in 1991 then it later moved to Sat.1 from 1992 to 1994. Like other previous international versions in France and Canada, the format plays very similar to the 1990-1991 U.S. version.


An Indonesian version appropriately called Match Game Indonesia hosted by Arie Untung aired on GTV from May 7 until July 1, 2018. The set and logo were based on the Baldwin version.


The Japanese Version is called Ai ai gemu (Ai Ai Game). Hosted by Shingo Yamashiro, it aired on Fuji TV from 1979 until 1985.


The Mexican version is called Espacio en Blanco (Blank Space) hosted by Mauricio Barcelata. It aired on Televisa for a brief period in 2006 for forty episodes only.

United Kingdom[]

A long-running and mostly well-known successful version aired in the U.K. under the name Blankety Blank, originally on BBC1; the show was originally hosted by Terry Wogan from 1979 to 1983, followed by Les Dawson (no relation to the late Richard Dawson) from 1984 to 1990, and lastly, Lily Savage (played by Paul O'Grady) from 1997 to 1999. Then in 2001, when the show moved to ITV1, the title of the show changed to Lily Savage's Blankety Blank where once again it was hosted by Lily Savage until 2002. While the main game was played the same as most other versions, it was done in more of a tourney-style show: the player who won only went to the Audience Match portion, with values worth 150, 100, and 50 "blanks" and better prize packages (whoever lost the game left with a checkbook and pen). Another game was then played with two new contestants, and then, afterwards, whichever player scored the most blanks won and went on to the Head-to-Head Match to double their "blanks" and win a better prize. In case of a tie, a tie breaker question decided who went to the Head-to-Head Match.

Fourteen years later, on 24 December 2016 the show was rebooted on ITV1 (which also aired Lily Savage's Blankety Blank from 2001 until 2002) as a one-off Christmas special in 2016 with David Walliams (who was also a panelist for the remake in the 24 Hour Panel People five years ago in 2011) as host along with: Brooke Vincent, Lesley Joseph, Louis Walsh, Paul and Berry Chuckle (a.k.a The Chuckle Brothers), Anne Robinson (former host of The Weakest Link fame) and Joe Lycett as the six panelists. additionally, if the reboot succeeded, then a full series will be commissioned in 2017. It only gained 3.7 Million viewers in total.

Four years later, on 24 December 2020, the show returned to its original network BBC1 hosted by Bradley Walsh (of The Chase fame) along with: Emilia Fox, Amir Khan, Sue Perkins, Jimmy Carr, Anita Rani and Danny Jones as the six panelists. Additionally, the set was similar to that of the current Baldwin version from America.

On 30 April (April 30) 2021, due to the special being so successful it has been announced to air as a full series on Saturday nights later in the year. The current Walsh version premiered on 2 October (October 2) 2021.

One-Off editions[]

In 2004 the series returned as part of BBC's annual Children in Need telethon, in which former host Terry Wogan returned as host accompanied by his wand microphone. The contestant were Jon Culshaw and Jan Reeves as the panelists were Donny Osmond, Maureen Lipman, Jamie Cullum, Barbara Windsor, Simon Cowell and David Coulthard.

A second one-off edition of the show aired as part of Vernon Kay's Gameshow Marathon hosted by Vernon Kay in 2007.

A third one-off edition aired as part of Comic Relief's 24 Hour Panel People in 2011 hosted by Paul O'Grady (without his alter ego drag queen character Lily Savage) as the panelists were Barbara Windsor, David Tennant, Stacey Solomon, David Walliams (who also briefly hosted the 2016 reboot five years later), George Lamb and Keith Harris & Orville. The contestants were: Lee Ryan and Ducan James


This version is called Sieu Sao Doan Chu (Superstar Guess the Word) hosted by Dai Nghia airs on HTV7 as of which both have started on April 3, 2017 and ended on June 19, 2017 for a total of 12 episodes. Although its logo and set were based on Baldwin's version, it still uses the "Match-Up" segment like the ones in Germany ('91), France and Canada. Also unlike previous international versions, this was the first and only international version to use celebrities as both contestants and panelists.

This version was known for having a controversial episode involving panelists Trung Dan and Huong Giang. On the episode that originally aired on May 15, 2017 the question was "Cat Tuong always complained that Trung Dan is eager in exploring what's inside appliances and see how it works. One day, he puts his head into a _____ and got injured." Then Giang innocently said "toilet". Dan felt offended, so he complained with Giang in an angry mode: "That's an offensive answer, please change it." Giang refused to do that so Trung scolded her and decided to leave the studio despite the taping already in progress.

After the scandal was on the news, both viewers and celebrities harassed Giang and said that "She's an insolent and thoughtless girl" and claimed that the show was "rude and dumb" as ratings begin to decline after that. Producers decided to block the previous episode out of YouTube and Giang and Dan's appearances was edited out of air. Finally, they cancelled the show after 12 episodes.


  • To see pictures of the various Match Game logos over the years click here.
  • To see press photos, pictures & drawings of the Match Game, click here.
  • To watch videos of Match Game click here.


Main Article: Match Game/Merchandise

Additional Pages[]


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1962 (pilot) – "A Swingin' Safari" by Billy Vaughn
1962–1967 – "A Swingin' Safari" by Bert Kaempfert
1967–1969 – "The MATCH GamE" by Score Productions
1973–1982, 2006, 2008 Pilot & 2016–Present – "The Midnight Four (MATCH GAME 73-79/PM's Theme)" by Ken Bichel, Ray Crisara, Herb Harris, Jay Leonhart, Mike Redding & Lou Volpe along with Robert Israel of Score Productions, Inc.
1990–1991 – Ken Bichel for Score Productions, based on "The Midnight Four (THE ALL-NEW STAR-STUDDED MATCH GAME Theme)"
1998–1999 – Score Productions, similar to "The Midnight Four (Match Game 'NOW')" but slightly different.

Two unused think cues from the 1974 version of TattleTales were recycled into Match Game 73-79/PM.

The main think cue from Match Game 73-79/PM was recycled for use as the main think cue during the first half of the 1998 revival. Halfway through this new song, it switched from the original melody to a new one based on the show's then-theme.

The Main from Match Game 73-79/PM is used as a showcase cue on The Price is Right during the Carey years and again as the closing theme on the April Fools' Day show in 2009.

The think cue from Match Game 73-79/PM is used on the April Fools' Day 2009 show on The Price is Right for games that require thinking such as Push Over and Cover Up instead of their respective cues.


Reruns of Match Game have aired in some cable networks in North America.

The Gene Rayburn version covering the entire CBS and syndicated runs plus Match Game PM have aired on Game Show Network every year since the network's launch in December 1994, and still airs to this day, although some episodes were skipped due to celebrity clearance issues and other reasons beyond the network's control. The short-lived 1990 version hosted by Ross Shafer did air at sporadic periods, but has not aired regularly since April 2005, though one episode, along with only one episode from the 1998 version, did air as part of the network's "Match Game Merry Blank-a-Thon" on Christmas Day 2012, which supposedly celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Match Game franchise (excluding The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour), and the Halloween 1990 episode aired on October 28, 2016.

Buzzr airs the series regularly as well, and has aired episodes from all years of the CBS version. The nighttime version, Match Game PM, began airing on the network on January 14, 2019, but they presently do not air the 1979-82 syndicated version regularly (though one episode of said version did air on International Women's Day 2019).

In Canada, prior to Comedy Network's launch of the new Canadian version of Match Game, select episodes of Gene Rayburn's Match Game have been reran on Comedy Gold, on which at least all of the available 1973 and early 1978 episodes have aired.

Beginning in June 2018, GameTV in Canada added Rayburn's Match Game to its retro block, currently airing on weekday afternoons. Currently, episodes covering January to early-May 1975 air. Unlike in the U.S. where it is rated TV-PG, this version is rated TV-G in Canada.

Beginning on December 6, 2018, GameTV added the Alec Baldwin version to its primetime schedule, airing on Thursday nights, with a repeat every Sunday night.


Mark Goodson & Bill Todman


NBC Studios, New York City, NY (1962–1969)
CBS Television City, Los Angeles, CA (1973–1982, 1998–1999, 2008)
ABC Television Center, Los Angeles, CA (1990–1991)
KTLA Studios, Los Angeles, CA (1996)
ABC Studio TV-24, New York City, NY (2016–Present)


  • Family Feud – Its bonus round (Supermatch) inspired the show and had its panelist Richard Dawson as host in 1976 and 1994 respectively.
  • Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour – A short-lived hour-long fusion show that aired on NBC from 1983 to 1984.
  • What the Blank! – An unsold pilot and failed reboot for FOX in 2004 with a similar format.
  • The Real Match Game Story:Behind The Blank – A "behind-the-scenes" documentary of the populary 1970's "Fill-in-the-blank" game show that aired on GSN in 2006.
  • Gameshow MarathonMatch Game (episode 6) was one of the shows on this seven episodes only CBS special in 2006.
  • The Life of Reilly - This was based on Charles Nelson Reilly's one-man show Save it for the Stage: The Life of Reilly from 2006 and released in 2007 before his death in the same year.



Official Website for the 2016 Verison
The Match Game Website
The Match Game Homepage
Match Game @ Game Show '75
The Match Game Wallpaper Factory (Old)
The Match Game Wallpaper Factory (New)
Mandel Illegan's Match Game '98 Experience
Rules of the last two versions of Match Game
Josh Rebich's Match Game Rule Sheets part of his Match Game/Hollywood Squares Page
Official Pearson website for Match Game ('98-'99 Burger era) courtesy of the Internet Archive
Match Game (2008) Set Pictures
More Match Game (2008) Set Pictures
MG2 @ Game Show Garbage

Game Show Utopia[]

Match Game (60s Version)

Match Game 70s[]

CBS Version
Match Game PM
Syndicated Version

YouTube Videos[]

Match Game '73 Pilot "B" Clip
Match Game '90 Pilot Intro
A rare Match Game pitchfilm from 1998
Clips from the 2008 Pilot