The king of the game shows, Mark Goodson midwifed some of TV's most popular and enduring if frivolous institutions, including "The Price Is Right," "Family Feud," "Password," "To Tell the Truth," "The Match Game," "What's My Line," "I've Got a Secret," and "Beat the Clock." Many of these series began in primetime and achieved immortality through syndication. Most of this vast entertainment empire was created under the auspices of Goodson-Todman Productions (formed in 1946 when Goodson joined forces with Bill Todman). Amid the merriment, the duo also ventured into the more treacherous realm of TV drama with the likes of "The Rebel" (1959-62), "Jefferson Drum" (1958-59), "Branded" (1965-66) and "Richard Boone Repertory Theater" (1963-64).
Goodson's career could have gone in any of a number of directions. He began in 1937 as a disc jockey in San Francisco and moved to New York several years later to work as a freelance radio announcer. Before long he was emceeing a radio game show, "The Jack Dempsy Sports Quiz." Goodson next briefly turned his attention to acting, displaying a flair for Japanese and German dialects on a WWII radio series, "We the People." Then Goodson created his first radio series, the ABC drama "Appointment With Life," based on the files of a marriage counselor. He went on to write and direct installments of "The Kate Smith Variety Hour."
The Goodson-Todman dynasty began with the premiere of "Winner Takes All" on CBS radio in 1946. They followed up with the immensely popular "What's My Line," which debuted on CBS-TV on February 1, 1950, and ran for 17 years in primetime before ascending to syndication heaven. Over the long run of the show, various mystery guests including Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Roosevelt, Carl Sandburg, and Barbra Streisand stumped the blindfolded celebrity panel. By 1956, Goodson-Todman was the largest packager of game shows in the US. At least one of their shows has been on the air each week since 1950.
Goodman eventually branched out from TV and extended his domain to include publishing. In 1986, he created the Goodson Newspaper Group and consolidated his earlier purchases of various daily and weekly newspapers. The group now boasts eight dailies, six Sunday papers, and 25 paid and free weekly newspapers.
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First entertainment job: worked as a disc jockey at radio station KCBS in San Francisco
Moved to New York City
Created his first network radio series, an ABC drama entitled "Appointment With Life," based on the files of a marriage counselor
Began TV producing career by teaming with Bill Todman to form Goodson-Todman Productions
First Goodson-Todman game show, "Winner Take All," premiered on CBS radio
Created "What's My Line," an overnight hit that ran for 17 years on CBS primetime
Goodson-Todman became the largest packager of game shows in the US
Created "To Tell the Truth"