‘The Hollywood Squares’ with Host Peter Marshall Premieres on This Day in 1966

by Joe Rutland

One of the most interesting game shows in TV history, “The Hollywood Squares,” made its debut on this day back in 1966.

With host Peter Marshall on board, this game show used the old game of “Tic-Tac-Toe” with human beings. Obviously, all of the stars would appear in a larger-than-life structure.

Contestants would take turns picking celebrities based on what move they wanted to make. One of the most popular stars in “The Hollywood Squares” history was comedian Paul Lynde, who usually was the center square.

Twitter account RetroNewsNow didn’t forget this day, either. Take a look at what they shared on Sunday.

Now Lynde is not in the picture above, but mercy, what a who’s who of entertainment. Let’s see, there’s “Mr. Television” himself, Milton Berle (top right). We have comedian Wally Cox (top left).

Look across the bottom, starting at your left. That’s comedian Cliff Arquette who brought his “Charley Weaver” character to the NBC game show. On your far right is comedian Don Adams, who was in the middle of “Get Smart” being on NBC.

What were the rules of “The Hollywood Squares”? Well, Peter Marshall would ask the celebrities questions based on the contestant’s choice. But the celebrities did get a heads up on the “zingers” coming their way from Marshall. When a celeb offered an answer, the contestant had to either accept it or say no. On a few occasions, the celebs didn’t know an answer.

But the true humor of this classic TV game show came when those “zingers” were pitched. Especially when Lynde would be the celeb who would pitch an answer back at Marshall.

Marshall, who had a career as a Broadway singer and nightclub act, hosted the original version between 1966-81. It had a run on daytime TV with NBC, and also had a nighttime version.

Game Show Finds Itself Among Top 10 All-Time TV Game Shows At No. 7

It’s such a memorable game show that even TV Guide, back in 2013, ranked “The Hollywood Squares” at No. 7 among the 60 all-time TV game shows.

Yes, Outsiders, most of the celebrities that appeared in the original run are dead. Marshall, though, is still alive at 95 years old.

Other versions of “The Hollywood Squares” after its first run had Jon Bauman, John Davidson, and Tom Bergeron as hosts. But even those versions could not really match Marshall’s time as host on the show.

Some other stars who appeared include Rose Marie of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” impressionist Rich Little, Nanette Fabray, Kaye Ballard, and Florence Henderson. Finally, if you ever hear the phrase “circle gets the square” used, then you can connect it with “The Hollywood Squares.”