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A Look Back at 'YOU'RE IN THE PICTURE' - 1961

Jackie Gleason is one of the all-time TV greats. His early 50's variety program THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW was a top ten hit. THE HONEYMMOONERS are classic characters that almost everybody knows. But, in 1961 Gleason came out with a new show that is considered one of the all-time bombs in television. YOU'RE IN THE PICTURE was so bad, it lasted just one episode.

YOU'RE IN THE PICTURE aired on Friday, January 20, 1961, in the 9:30pm slot on CBS. YITP was a game show format, very similar to WHAT'S MY LINE and I'VE GOT A SECRET.

The format of the game was that a four-member celebrity panel would stick their heads into a life-sized illustration of a famous scene or song lyric and then take turns asking yes/no questions to Gleason to try to figure out what scene they were a part of. If they were able to figure out the scene, 100 CARE Packages were donated in their name; if they were stumped, the packages were donated in Gleason's name. Picture scenes featured were of Pocahontas saving John Smith, a depiction of four playing cards, and a scene of high school hurdlers in a track meet.

The following Friday, January 27, there was no set. Just Gleason and the TV audience. Gleason began the show with his apology.
"There's nothing here, except the orchestra and myself... We have a creed tonight, and the creed is honesty... 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 talk show format. It ran its original production length. until March 24, 1961.

YOU'RE IN THE PICTURE was so bad that forty years after its airing, it ranked #9 in the 2002 TV Guide feature "50 Worst TV shows of All-Time." The show may never had been remembered had it not been for the "Apology" the following week.

The failure of YITB did not stick with Gleason. He created a new hit series for CBS in the fall of 1962, THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW: THE AMERICAN SCENE MAGAZINE. The series ranked #17 for its freshman season and ran for four years.

Jackie Gleason : "You're in the Picture" by werquin

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