|Allen Ludden (1961–1980)|
Tom Kennedy (1980–1982)
Jack Narz (1 segment from 1982)
Bert Convy (1984–1989)
Regis Philbin (2008–2009)
Keke Palmer (2022-present)
|Jack Clark (1964–1965)|
Bill Cullen (1980)
|Jack Clark (1961–1967)|
Lee Vines (1961–1967)
Bern Bennett (1961–1967)
Frank Wayne (1964–1965 (sub))
John Harlan (1971–1975, 1979 (sub))
Gene Wood (1979–1982, 1984–1989)
Rich Jeffries (1981–1982 (sub), 1984)
Bob Hilton (1980–1982, 1985–1986 (sub))
Johnny Olson (1980 (sub))
CBS Primetime: 1/2/1962 – 9/9/1965, 12/25/1966 – 5/22/1967
|Mark Goodson/Bill Todman Productions (1961–1982)|
Mark Goodson Productions (1984–1989)
(Fremantle)Media North America (2008–present)
Password was a game show where one player teams up with one celebrity to try to guess a secret password by using only one-word clues.
Since then, the franchise has had a plethora of incarnations such as Password All-Stars, Password Plus, Super Password and Million Dollar Password.
60s–70s Game Format
In the original from 1961 until 1974, two teams of two (consisting of one celebrity and one contestant) played Password for points. One player from each team (both celebrities or both contestants) was given the password while the home viewers saw the word on their screens (accompanied by the announcer whispering, "The Password is..."). Then the clue givers gave a one-word clue to get their partners to say the password. In the ABC version, the first team got the option to pass or play. Teams alternated turns until one guesser mentioned the password which gave the team points according to how many clues were given, starting at 10 and ending with 1 (5 in the ABC run). Should the guesser on the team in control say a form of the password, the guesser got one last chance to say the exact word. Whenever an illegal clue was given, a buzzer sounded, and the guesser lost a chance to guess the password, and giving away the password by the clue givers ended the word. The decisions whether the clues were good or bad were made by a word authority. In the CBS version, the authorities were Professor David H. Greene, a professor from New York University, and World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary editor Dr. Reason A. Goodwin. On ABC, the authorities were Dr. Robert Stockwell from UCLA and Carolyn Duncan. Partners on both teams alternated between giving & receiving, starting with the stars, then to the contestants; plus, the team that trailed or lost the last password (in case of a tie) started a new password. The first team to reach 25 points won the game ($100 to the contestant in the CBS daytime version and $250 in the CBS nighttime version) and went on the play the Lightning Round. By the end of the ABC run, the game was played best of three.
In the Lightning Round, the celebrity on the winning team had 60 seconds (one minute) to get his/her partner to say five more passwords. If the contestant can't guess the password, the celebrity can pass. Each password guessed was worth $50 meaning that the contestant can win up to $250. In the ABC version, after the main Lightning Round, the winning contestant can bet any or all of his/her winnings on one more password called the "betting word" in which the contestant now gave clues to the celebrity partner for the next 15 seconds. Later in the ABC run, the value per word was upped to $100 for a possible total of $500.
On the CBS daytime version, contestants played 2 games, win or lose, with each game worth $100. Originally on the nighttime version, 2 players stayed for the entire show. Starting that November, two new contestants played one game each, with winners receiving $250 and losers receiving $50. On the ABC version, champions can stay until they are defeated or they win ten games. Later on, the limit was dropped.
Tournament of Champions
In 1965, the show adopted an annual "Tournament of Champions" where contestants on the daytime version who won both their games were invited back to compete for more money.
Every three months, the four top winners during that period would return for a quarterly contest. The winner would earn $1,000 and the right to compete in the annual Tournament of Champions. The winner of the annual contest won $5,000 and faced the previous year's champion in a best-of-seven match for $10,000.
Password All-Stars/Password ('75)
On November 18, 1974, the format changed to have celebrities play the game but without contestants. Six celebrities played for one whole week, all playing for charity. In this version, celebrities earned points scored by the winning team they were on. The top four celebrities returned to play Friday's game with the winning celebrity getting $5,000 plus a chance to play the Grandmaster Tournament for $25,000 more. This format was hated by fans of the show, so it was discontinued on February 21, 1975. The following Monday, the show reverted to its original form, contestants and all, but the new format remained. The show was canceled on June 27, 1975, to make room for a new charades game called Showoffs.
The main game began with an elimination round with four contestants/celebrities seated across from two celebrities. The celebrities took turns giving one-word clues to the players, and the first player to buzz in with the correct password scored one point. An incorrect answer from the buzz-in player caused that player to sit out the rest of the word, and questioning about the clue after buzzing in ended the word right away, as did the failure to identify the password after four clues. The first two players to score three passwords (two for the celebrities) won the right to play Classic Password.
Classic Password was played the same as before, except that the clue giver on the first team was also given the option to double in addition to the pass/play option. Going for the double meant that the word would then be worth 20 points instead of 10; plus, both clue givers got one chance to get their partners to say the word. In the all-celebrities version, games were still played to 25 points, although any winning point total higher than 25 were kept (the most points a team could earn in a game was 44), when it switched back to the contestant/celebrity version, games were played to 50 points.
In the All-Stars version, both celebrities on the winning team got 20 seconds to convey two passwords (one for each celebrity) to each other and score 20 points. The winning team's score was given to both celebrities who then became clue givers for the next elimination round.
Big Money Lightning Round
When the show reverted to having contestants, a new and richer Lightning Round was played. The Big Money Lightning Round was now a three-level game. On each level, the celebrity had 30 seconds to get his/her partner to say three passwords. On the first two levels, each password guessed was worth money, and getting all three won extra money for every second leftover. The contestant must guess at least one password to go to the next level, for not getting any passwords right ended the round automatically; and if it happened on the second level, they still kept the money from the first level.
- Level 1 - Each word was worth $25. Getting all three earned $75 plus an additional $5 per second leftover.
- Level 2 - Each word was worth the total amount of money won on the first level. Getting all three earned an additional $10 per leftover second.
- Level 3 - The celebrity had another 30 seconds to get his/her partner to say the final three passwords. If the contestant did get all three he/she won ten times the cash won from both levels, but unable to get all three still kept the money won from both levels. Highest possible total, $9,750.
After the Big Money Lightning Round, the winning contestant along with the contestant he/she defeated in the main game played another elimination round with two new players.
Password Plus/Super Password
From 1979 to 1989, NBC aired two new Password series in which teams do more than guess passwords but tried to solve puzzles for money as well. Winning teams had a chance to win even more money by guessing ten more passwords arranged in alphabetical order.
In the main game, contestants & celebrities solved puzzles with five clues each. They earned a chance to solve the puzzle by playing Password, and the passwords were the clues to the puzzles.
A password was given to the clue givers and had a limited number of chances to get their partners to say the word. Each time the guesser mentioned the password, the password became a clue and it appeared on a puzzle board; plus the guesser had a chance to solve the puzzle. If the password was given away by the clue-giver, the right to solve the puzzle automatically went to the opposing guesser. Failure to solve the puzzle meant that another password/clue was played. If the guesser failed to solve the puzzle after five clues, the clue givers helped out by guessing the puzzle themselves. If the puzzle was missed entirely, another puzzle was played for the same amount. The first team to solve the puzzle won money and meeting a certain goal won the game and a chance to win more money.
The words appeared on the playing desk in the form of slides rather than being superimposed. When the word was given to the clue givers, the first clue giver had the same pass/play option from the ABC version. Failure to decide in time gave the opposing clue giver two clues instead of one. The teams had six chances (three clues for each giver) to get their partners to say the clue. In later episodes, it was reduced to four chances (two clues for each giver) Forms of the word were always accepted.
The first guesser to get the password won a chance to solve the puzzle; solving the puzzle won the round and the money attached to it for his/her team but failing to do so meant another clue was played in the same manner, with the team who lost the last password getting the option. Later shows had the team who won the last password getting the option. If the guesser who won the last password didn't solve the puzzle after the fifth clue, the clue-giver was given a chance to solve the puzzle. If he/she failed, the puzzle was discarded (but it wasn't before the audience was given a chance to solve it). Beginning with the April 23, 1979 episode of Password Plus and continuing until the series ended on March 26, 1982, a new rule was put into place. It disallowed any password's direct opposite as a legal clue.
When the show started, the first two rounds were worth $100, and the next two were worth $200, with $300 needed to win the game. Later, a third $100 puzzle was added, after which the contestants did what host Tom Kennedy called “the crossover”: they traded celebrity partners (a nod to the original Password); that's when the $200 puzzles started, and the first team to reach $500 wins the game.
The France/French Fiasco
Late in 1980, after Tom Kennedy became the permanent replacement for Allen Ludden, the freakiest Password Plus moment of all time occurred. The first password, FRENCH, was given to both Betty White and Dick Martin. Betty was awarded the option, and she chose to play. Betty mentioned, in a French accent, “Language”. Sherry Sojo, her contestant partner, responded with “Italian”. The buzzer then sounded, unsurprisingly, following which Dick then gave his partner, Kathy Cortez, “France” as his clue, to with Kathy responded “French”. Kathy was correct, but then the illegal clue siren quickly sounded. (Dick used “France”, from which we get “French”.) Tom admonished Dick for the illegal clue. Tom was supposed to give Sherry the guess; however, he mentioned, “Now we have another puzzle.” In fact, he repeatedly forgot that Sherry was supposed to guess! Tom quipped, “Boy, Allen has no idea what trouble he’s in.” Sherry then finally guessed “Hollandaise”. The buzzer sounded, indicating that was incorrect.
After Dick had Kathy correctly guess the second password, REVOLUTION, it seemed the game was back to normal. But, then came the third password: LOST. When Betty failed again, Dick used “lose”. Kathy was correct, but again, the illegal clue siren sounded late! (He used “lose”, from which we get “lost”.) This time, however, Tom did remember to give Sherry the guess. Sherry answered “The Battle of Waterloo”. The buzzer sounds again.
For the fourth password, HEAD, Betty gave Sherry “pate” as a clue. Sherry responded “Chopped liver”. No one got this hilarity-filled word right. The final password, QUEEN, then came up. Betty mentioned, “Victoria”, to which Sherry responded “Queen”, at which point the bell sounded.
Sherry now had a chance to solve; she mentioned, “Victoria”. The buzzer sounds, but Betty managed to save Sherry. She guessed "Marie Antoinette" (pronouncing it “Mary Antoinette”), which was the correct answer; the puzzle win bells then rang, and the puzzle was finally over.
Before it all started, Tom explained a scenario of this nature was usually edited out. But, this lasted nearly nine minutes, and was left in! Despite losing, Sherry was invited back for a future game.
The gameplay was the same as Password Plus, except the pass/play option was dropped, and the "no opposites" rule was lifted. Therefore, opposite words were ruled legit again. Plus, if the team that won the last password couldn't solve the puzzle, the opposing team had a chance to solve it. Also, starting in 1986, the famous phrase "The password is..." was reinstated for the first time since that practice was lifted at the start of the All-Stars version. It also revived the "last chance to guess" rule whenever a guesser gave a form of the word.
Each puzzle was worth $100 more than the previous, starting with $100, and ending at $400. After the second puzzle (the $200 puzzle) the team that solved that puzzle won the right to play the CA$HWORD game. This was where the celebrity gave up to three clues, trying to get the contestant to say the CA$HWORD. Correctly guessing the CA$HWORD won a cash jackpot which started at $1,000 and grew by that amount until won, with the highest being $12,000. This was bonus money that was the contestant's to keep, regardless of the game's outcome. If the celebrity gives an illegal clue, the CA$HWORD automatically ends. The contestants then switched celebrity partners. The first team to reach $500 or more won the game.
In either version, the winning team got to play a bonus round for more money.
In the bonus round (called Alphabetics in Password Plus, and The Super Password End Game in Super Password), the winning contestant was shown 10 letters which were all initials to 10 passwords and in alphabetical order. The celebrity's job was to give a series of one-word clues to the contestant. The contestant can guess as many times as they want. Should the contestant guess the correct word, he/she won $100 and advances to the next word beginning with the next letter on the list. If the contestant can't guess the word, the celebrity can pass that word and may return to it if time permits. No penalty was given to the receiver who guesses the wrong word. Getting all ten words in 60 seconds or less won a cash jackpot.
In Alphabetics, if the contestant got all ten passwords within 60 seconds, he/she won $5,000 minus $1,000 for each illegal clue. In later shows, the jackpot was progressive, starting at $5,000 and increasing by that much each time it wasn't won, with a maximum of $50,000 (which was never achieved). The biggest jackpot ever won was $35,000; $30,000 was won twice. Illegal clues reduced the jackpot by 20% ($2,500 for a brief period).
When the show started, the Alphabetics board was located at the entrance and the words were listed downward; it was later moved to a wall behind a set of doors so that it wouldn't be in the way of the show's logo that closed the entrance. Ludden called it "The Alphabetics Wall." Also, the words were zigzagged down the board.
After each Alphabetics, the champion played a new game with the other celebrity; later, the champion stayed with the current celebrity until the third $100 puzzle was played, after which he/she would do the crossover. Champions stayed on the show until they lost or until they won seven times, after which they retired undefeated.
Super Password End Game
In the Super Password End Game in the mid-to-late 1980s version, the letters appeared in computer-animated boxes, which flipped in from side to side. Each active word resulted in its respective letter flashing to help the viewer. Each time a word was guessed correctly, the appropriate letter turned into a dollar sign. Getting all ten passwords within 60 seconds won the jackpot which still started at $5,000 and grew by that amount every time it wasn't won. If the celebrity gave an illegal clue or used their hands, the appropriate letter turns black and voids the word in play, resulting in the team forfeiting the chance at the jackpot. There was no maximum jackpot in this version, the highest of which was $55,000 (which was won twice; however, the latter winner didn't receive his winnings after it was discovered he was wanted for insurance fraud); also won on three occasions was $50,000, the second-highest jackpot. In all instances, the words were seen on a small monitor located near the contestant's head but were only visible to the celebrity. Winning players stayed on the show until they won five games, or were defeated.
Bert Convy's Birthday
Possible 1998 Revival
According to an article from the November 11, 1997 issue of Broadcasting & Cable magazine, it was reported that a new syndicated version of Password was in the works with Gordon Elliott as host and would be produced by All American Television for the Fall 1998 season. But, the series never materialized.
Million Dollar Password
On June 1, 2008, CBS brought back Password in a new million-dollar format. Former Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? host Regis Philbin (who was a celebrity player on Password Plus) emceed the new version. It ended on June 14, 2009, after two seasons by making it the shortest incarnation of Password in history.
Main Game (Elimination Game)
Two teams of two (consisting of one contestant and one celebrity), played the game which was now in a Pyramid-like format.
Each team had 30 seconds to correctly guess five passwords, with each one scoring one point. On each word, the clue-giver could give as many one-word clues as possible, but they had to wait for the guesser to answer; otherwise, the word would be a disqualification. As soon as the guesser correctly guessed the word or if the giver passed, the team would move on to the next word (upon passing, the team could come back to the passed word(s) if and when time permitted, but giving an illegal clue, in addition to the rule above, disqualifies that word). The celebrities gave the clues in the first round, and the contestants gave clues in the second round.
The game was played in two halves, and after the first half, the contestants switched partners for the final half. After the second half, the team with the most points went on to play the Million Dollar Password round. If there was a tie at the end of the fourth round, the teams played a tie-breaker in Classic Password mode. In the Classic Password tie-breaker, the teams alternated turns with the contestants giving and the celebrities receiving until one team got the password and winning the game.
Million Dollar Password
In the Million Dollar round, the winning contestant partnered with the celebrity who scored the most points with that contestant (or the last celebrity partnered in case of a tie) and faced a six-level money ladder. To start, the contestant opted to either give or receive (more contestants wanted to give) throughout the round. Then on each level, the giver had 90 seconds to get his/her partner to say five out of a set number of words. On each word, the giver could give no more than three clues to his/her partner; using up all three clues, passing, or giving illegal clues threw out the word, and (of course) guessing the right word won that word. Getting five passwords in 90 seconds won the money attached to that level and the team advanced to the next level with one word fewer than the previous level. Running out of time or failure to have enough words to reach five ended the game.
Here's how the money ladder went:
|1||5 out of 10||$10,000|
|2||5 out of 9||$25,000|
|3||5 out of 8||$50,000|
|4||5 out of 7||$100,000|
|5||5 out of 6||$250,000|
(Safety Net/Guarantee during season 2)
|6||All five words||$1,000,000|
(Grand Prize Jackpot)
Losing on the first or second level won nothing for the contestant. Winning the second (and/or fifth levels in season 2) did more than won the money but also guaranteed the contestant that amount of money. After each completed level, the contestant could either stop and take the money or continue playing for the million.
If the contestant did make it to the top two levels, he/she was shown the passwords at the start before making a decision. In the first season on the fifth ($250,000) level, the giver was shown the first five passwords, and in the second season, he/she was shown all six. Only one contestant opted to play for $250,000, but he lost, dropping back to $25,000.
Only one contestant won nothing during the two-season run (see below).
See Main Article for Details
In 2013, a 3-D comedic animated short based on the original incarnation was made by Chris Landreth as he forgets his friends' name (John Dilworth) at a party.
Password (Coming [Back] to ABC?)
In 2016, an article from Buzzerbloghas received from an anonymous but reputable source that Password is listed as one of ABC's new alternative series on the internal ABC's affiliate website. Although 45 years ago there was already a version of Password on their network that aired from 1971 until 1975, the potential news comes on the heels of several announcements from ABC in what has, so far proven to be a landmark year for the traditional game show genre. The remake would've joined the likes such as Match Game with Alec Baldwin, To Tell the Truth with Anthony Anderson and The $100,000 Pyramid with Michael Strahan as well as Celebrity Family Feud (Harvey) and the two-season cancelled 500 Questions on its summertime primetime schedule. But, neither host, premiere date, and taping/casting information have been made since then.
Jimmy Fallon's PASSWORD
After playing the game in its classic format several times during his current run on THE TONIGHT SHOW, host Jimmy Fallon is producing/hosting a revival of Password for NBC. The series, under the auspices of Fremantle, has started casting as of early 2022, which precludes the new show possibly coming to air for the 2022-2023 television season.
Countries that have done their versions of Password include the following:
- Brazil (Classic and Million Dollar formats)
- France (Million Dollar format only)
- Greece (Million Dollar format only)
- Indonesia (Million Dollar format only)
- Mexico (Million Dollar format only)
- New Zealand
- Portugal (Plus/Super format only)
- Slovakia (Million Dollar format only)
- Spain (Million Dollar format only)
- Turkey (Million Dollar format only)
- United Kingdom
This was the first game show where Tom Kennedy and Gene Wood made their appearances together. The second was Body Language.
Super Password managed to last 4½ years despite being placed in the "death slot" of noon Eastern Time on NBC for its entire run, where it was prone to be preempted for local news.
It has been recently reported that NBC had greenlit a reboot of Password with Jimmy Fallon, current host of The Tonight Show. For the longest time, he had the game on his show.On January 24, 2022 a casting notice was sent.
The ABC version is almost completely lost with only a few episodes known to exist. An orange set episode has been rerun on GSN in 2006. The finale of Password All-Stars and the blue set Password Finale both exist due to home recordings. Another studio master of a blue set episode also exists. A kinescope of the blue set was found, in which Betty White gets to host the show while Allen Ludden and Paul Williams play as celebrity guests. It was available as an extra for the Betty White's Pet Set DVD collection.
It was unknown the reason Mark Goodson didn't save copies of this version as he did with most of his shows. It was believed the tapes for this version were reused to record Family Feud due to a person finding a Password label under the label of a Family Feud master.
Password Plus is completely intact and has been rerun on GSN and Buzzr.
Super Password is completely intact and has been rerun on GSN and Buzzr as well.
Million Dollar Password has been rerun on GSN.
On July 2, 2018, GameTV in Canada started airing reruns of Super Password, which aired the first 65 episodes of the series. The show left the GameTV schedule on July 2, 2019.
1961: "Holiday Jaunt" by Kurt Rehfield
1963: "You Know the Password" by Bob Cobert
1971: "The Fun of It" by Edd Kalehoff
1974 (All-Stars): "Bicentennial Funk" by Charles Fox for Score Productions
1979 (Plus): "Not Enough Disco Inferno" by Michel Camilo & Walt Levinsky for Score Productions
1984 (Super): "Stardust" by Gary Anderson for Score Productions
2008 (Million Dollar): Lewis Flinn
CBS Studio 50/52, New York City, NY
Studio 33/43, CBS Television City, Los Angeles, CA
ABC Television Center, Los Angeles, CA
Vine Street Theater, Los Angeles, CA
Plus and Super Versions
NBC Studio 3, Burbank, CA
Million Dollar Version
Kaufman Astoria Studios, New York City, NY (Season 1)
CBS Radford Studios, Los Angeles, CA (Season 2)
Password/Password Plus Episode Guide
Password/Super Password Episode Guide
Password/In Popular Culture
Password/Quotes & Catchphrases
- Way to go, Dick!
- New "Feud" may sign Dolly Parton as Host
- EXCLUSIVE: Password Revival May Be Coming To ABC - BuzzerBlog
- Buzzerblog article on 2022 Password Reboot with Jimmy Fallon.
- Keke Palmer Named Host of Password
- Keke Palmer To Host ‘Password’ Reboot For NBC From Jimmy Fallon
- ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ Renewed for 5 Years
- Jimmy Fallon Rebooting Classic Game Show ‘Password’ For NBC
- Age Verification - Enter Your Date of Birth
- Super Password schedule on GameTV. Retrieved on 20 June 2018.
One Clue Guesses from Super Password
The Biggest Super Password End Game Win of all ($55,000)
Contestant Robbed of $15K then $30K!
Another Contestant Robbed of $10K!
The Biggest Super Password Winner!
Million Dollar Password
The Only $0 Winner