Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Swear It Was Him

After having leftover Chinese for lunch, and then walking the dog, I still had a little time to kill before my 3:00 PM bed time.  A stroll around the Viewmont Mall seemed like a good way to get out for a while, even though there was nothing I needed.

I was in Penney's, when I dapper gentleman caught my eye.  White hair, navy blazer, grey slacks, pastel tie.  He was up there in years, but still moving around rather well.

I saw him again out in the mall.

I swear it was Orson Bean. 

You have to understand something.  I grew up on 60's and 70's TV game shows.  Orson Bean is a god.   Witty.  Funny without being silly.  Smart.  Clever.

Even though he's a serious actor and an author, most people remember him as being a regular on perhaps the greatest game show ever, To Tell the Truth.  Bean hit most of the Goodson/Todman produced shows, including Match Game, Tattletales, Password and Body Language.  He was also a frequent guest on Pyramid and Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.  The man can tell a story, the perfect guy to have around.

Let me tell you something else.  Orson Bean was the host when they shot the pilot for a Concentration revival in 1985.  The video is on You Tube.  While Orson Bean was a great game player, he wasn't a very good host.  NBC picked up Concentration in 1987, and the host job went to Alex Trebek-- a guy who's great on Jeopardy, but who was a bit of a stiff during his four years as host of Concentration.

So, what have we learned here?  Being a panelist on a game show is different than hosting, and each can be difficult and challenging in its own way.  Also, how many times do you see someone who you think is Orson Bean walking through a shopping mall in Dickson City.  I should have approached him and asked, and I'm kicking myself for not doing it.

If it wasn't Orson Bean, there's someone walking around in the area who can be his twin.  To Tell the Truth.