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Masked Men

BREAKING THE CODE/FOX/1997-98 (The Masked Magician) - Hidden behind a black mask of wriggling white lines, the Masked Magician exposed to the world the secrets behind the world's most exciting magical tricks in a series of FOX TV Specials entitled BREAKING THE CODE: MAGIC'S BIGGEST SECRETS FINALLY REVEALED. This Benedict Arnold of the Houdini set revealed the secrets like teleporting a woman from one cage to another (Just use Twins) to "challenge magicians to come up with new ideas, to push magic into the 21st century." Newspapers like USA Today, Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Los Angeles Times suspected that the masked man was in reality a magician named Valentino. On the fourth installment (aired 10/29/98) of MAGIC'S BIGGEST SECRETS No.4: THE FINAL REVEAL we learned the name of the mysterious magician. It was none other than....Valentino.

THE GONG SHOW/SYN/1976-80 (The Unknown Comic) - A big gimmick on this syndicated talent show satire (besides the terrible acts) was the Unknown Comic. Wearing a brown paper bag over his head throughout his act, this crazy comic told leftover jokes that were as stale as vaudeville. Once he put a small bag over his hand and said "This is my doggie bag!" With jokes like that, the brown paper bag was an excellent idea. On an episode of REAL PEOPLE/NBC/1979-84, it was revealed that this awful punster was actually comedian Murray Langston, veteran of THE SONNY AND CHER COMEDY HOUR/CBS/1971-77.

Clayton Moore as The Lone RangerTHE LONE RANGER/ABC/1949-57 (Masked Rider) - "Who was that masked man?" was the classic phrase heard at the end of each episode of the western adventure THE LONE RANGER from its debut on radio on 1933 through its successful run on television in the 1950s. The mysterious "masked rider of the plains" (a.k.a. "The Lone Ranger") was a former Texas Ranger named John Reid (Clayton Moore), the lone survivor of an ambush set by Butch Cavendish and his outlaw gang. With the possible glimpses of our hero during the debut episode on September 15, 1949, The Lone Ranger never showed his face to his fans but kept it concealed behind his trademark black mask and his many disguises. The only one who knew his true identity was his American Indian sidekick, Tonto (Jay Silverheels) who nursed the once wounded ranger back to health. During the 1952-54 season of THE LONE RANGER, actor John Hart replaced Moore as the man behind the mask after a contract dispute.

TRIVIA NOTE: As of 1987 Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger was starring in a petroleum commercial hawking a new gasoline Amoco Silver! On June 5th, 1987 Clayton Moore was honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He commented to the crowd "This star... belongs to you fans, all of you, that have backed me all my life." He also remarked that the only other honor as great was working with "my pal, Jay Silverheels...Tonto. See also NICKNAMES: "The Lone Ranger"

THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW/NBC/SYN/CBS/SYN/1962-86 (Mystery Singer) - David Soul veteran of such series as HERE COME THE BRIDES/ABC/1968-70 and STARSKY AND HUTCH/ABC/1975-79 had his first regular television exposure on this syndicated talk show during the 1966-67 season. He appeared as a hooded "Mystery Singer."

TRIVIA NOTE: The NBC musical variety program THE GOODRICH SILVERTOWN ORCHESTRA broadcast on radio from 1929-36 featured Joseph M. White, known as the "Silver Masked Tenor" who always wore a silver mask while performing and whose identity was concealed for years. He developed a large following of fans in the late 1920s and early 1930s. See also - "The Gong Show."

WHAT'S MY LINE/CBS/1950-67/SYN/1968-75 (Masked Contestants) - This quiz panel program was the longest running show of its kind lasting some eighteen years on the networks and later in syndication. A popular program gimmick was the "Mystery Guest" where all of the panel members donned blindfolds and then had to guess the identity of some celebrity who often disguised their voice when answering a series of yes/no questions. If the panel had not figured out who the mystery guest was after a possible ten guesses, the panel would remove their blindfolds, and the previously faceless celebrity (at least, to the panelists) would be revealed to each of them. John Daly, longtime moderator of the show, was the mystery guest on the last show (9/3/67) of the original series. The first celebrity guest to challenge the panel was ex-Yankee shortstop, Phil Rizutto.

TRIVIA NOTE: Comedian Ernie Kovacs spoof of this program was called "Whom Done It." A mystery celebrity would shoot somebody and the panelist would have to guess "Whom Done It." Whispering, the announcer talked to the home audience "And now let's tell our audience at home who wounded tonight's studio guest."


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