Monday, March 30, 2015

What Were They Thinking?: "You're in the Picture"

April Fools Week at will feature "What Were They Thinking?" a weeklong look at television's worst moments and dumbest television shows.

On January 20, 1961, Jackie Gleason premiered a new game show sponsored by Kellogg's called You're in the Picture which featured celebrities competing for charity by putting their faces through holes in a painting like they were taking photographs at a tourist trap. The celebrities were supposed to guess what the subject of the painting was by asking questions of the host- Mr. Gleason.

The show was an instant embarrassment. Some people claimed it to be the worst show ever aired up to that point. Jackie had hoped to show that he could do more than just a variety show or situation comedy, but this was not the project that would do so. CBS canceled the show after just one episode, but gave Mr. Gleason the chance to turn it into something else. In a legendary half hour of television, Jackie Gleason took his slot on January 27, 1961 to apologize for the show and admit that it was terrible-

"Last week we did a show that laid the biggest bomb—it would make the H-bomb look like a two-inch salute."

The show was renamed The Jackie Gleason Show and became a variety show. Mr. Gleason's career quickly recovered. His guest stars on that ill-fated show were just as lucky. Pat Harrington went on to play the character of Schneider on One Day at a Time. Pat Carroll has done many things, including providing the voice for the Disney villainess Ursula in the classic film The Little Mermaid.