By Elissa Blattman, Project Assistant
Female television game show hosts have been few and far between. Though some women have been able to step into hosting roles, the world of game shows is still largely dominated by men. This week’s Throwback Thursday post is all about three of the women who have made their marks on one of the most popular genres of television since the medium’s inception.
Arlene Francis is perhaps best known as a panelist on the enduring classic television game show, What’s My Line?, on which she appeared regularly for 25 years. While she is well remembered for her appearances on What’s My Line?, she is much less remembered for the work she did on her very own long-running game show, Blind Date. Francis got her first radio role, on the show The March of Time, in 1931. She worked on radio throughout the 1930s and 1940s, and landed the opportunity to host the new radio matchmaking show, Blind Date, in 1943. Upon the decline of radio and the rise of television throughout the 1940s, Francis began to worry that her career as a radio personality would end. However, when Blind Date moved from radio to television on May 5, 1949, Francis was given the opportunity to host that version of the show as well. She continued as host until 1952, when a new male host stepped in. In taking her hosting gig from radio to television, Francis became the first ever female television game show host. Her success on Blind Date led to her appearances on What’s My Line?, as well as to her being casted as the first female emcee, or “femcee,” of the popular television variety show, Your Show of Shows. On top of her ongoing work on television, Francis went back to her radio career in 1961 with The Arlene Francis Show, which ran for nearly three decades until 1990.