Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour

The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour is an American television panel game show that combined two panel games of the 1960s and 1970s – The Match Game and The Hollywood Squares – into an hour-long format.

The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour
Created byMark Goodson, Bill Todman, Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley
Based onMatch Game
Hollywood Squares
Directed byMarc Breslow[1]
Presented byGene Rayburn (Match Game segments)
Jon Bauman
(Hollywood Squares segment)
Narrated byGene Wood
Composer(s)Edd Kalehoff[1]
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes191
Producer(s)Robert Sherman[1]
Production location(s)NBC Studios
Burbank, California
Running timeapprox. 44 Minutes
Production company(s)Mark Goodson Television Productions
Orion Television
DistributorMGM Worldwide Television
Fremantle North America
Original networkNBC
Original releaseOctober 31, 1983 
July 27, 1984

The series ran from October 31, 1983 to July 27, 1984 on NBC.[2] Gene Rayburn reprised his role as host of the Match Game and Super Match segments, while Jon "Bowzer" Bauman hosted the Hollywood Squares segment. Gene Wood was the show's regular announcer with Johnny Olson, Rich Jeffries, and Bob Hilton substituting during the run.

The series was credited as a Mark Goodson Television Production. Orion Television, then-owners of the Hollywood Squares format rights, licensed the format to Goodson.


Match Game

The show began with two new contestants playing a round of 1970s-style Match Game with a six-person panel consisting of Bauman and five other celebrities. The game-play format was the one used on the syndicated Match Game PM; it was up to the contestant to match as many of the panel's responses to fill-in-the-blank questions as possible, with three rounds played and matched celebrities not playing subsequent questions. After three rounds, the contestant with the higher score won the game.

In case of a tie, a modified version of the Match Game PM tiebreaker was used. As before, a Super Match-like question (example: "_____, New Jersey") was played. The difference was that instead of writing their answers on a card, the contestants were secretly shown four possible answer choices (examples: "Atlantic City", "Hoboken", "Newark", "Trenton"). Once both contestants had chosen an answer, Rayburn read the question to the panel and polled them, one at a time. The first contestant to match his/her answer against any panel member won the game.

Hollywood Squares

The Hollywood Squares half of the show pitted the Match Game winner against the returning champion.

For Squares, three more celebrities joined the panel along with Rayburn, who took Bauman's seat at bottom left. A third tier of the panel set swung into place to accommodate the new panelists, and the celebrity who was already sitting in the top center seat for Match Game became the center square. As on the original Squares, contestants attempted to claim squares by correctly agreeing or disagreeing with the responses that the celebrities gave to Bauman's questions. The first contestant to get three of his/her own symbol in a row (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) or capture five squares won the game.

There were several differences in game play compared to the original Squares. Here, the champion always played X and the opponent O, regardless of the gender of the contestants. This has been the only version of Squares not to use the traditional "Mr. X" or "M(r)s. Circle" distinction. Each individual square earned was worth $25, with a game win worth $100 for the first game and increasing by $100 per game until time ran out. No "Secret Square" was played in this version. Additionally, most questions asked were of the true/false or multiple choice variety. This is generally believed to be the result of the show's writers not providing the same pre-show briefings to the celebrities as on other versions, as Mark Goodson did not want to have a scripted game show.

The most significant rule change involved winning a game. On all versions of Squares before and since, if a contestant went for a block or five-square win and failed to correctly agree or disagree, control would simply pass back to the other contestant and they would have to earn the win on their own. This version of Squares eliminated that rule, enabling a contestant to win a game on an opponent's error.

The contestants played as many games as time allowed. When the final bell rang, the contestant in the lead became the day's champion and joined Rayburn on stage to play the Super Match bonus round. Both contestants kept any money they earned in this segment.

If the match ended in a tie, one final question was played with the star of one contestant's choosing. If the contestant agreed or disagreed correctly, he/she won the match; otherwise, the match went to the opponent.

Super Match

The champion could win up to $30,000 in the Super Match, which was played nearly identically to the 1973–82 version of the Match Game, but with Bauman and all eight of the other celebrities as panelists.

The round began with the Audience Match, in which the contestant tried to match one of the three most popular responses given by a previous studio audience to a short phrase such as "Trading ______ ." The contestant was allowed to call on any three celebrities for help and was not bound to use any of their responses. $1,000 was awarded for matching the most popular response, with $500 and $250 for the second and third, respectively. If the contestant failed to match any of these three responses, the round did not end as on previous versions of Match Game; rather, he/she was given $100.

The contestant then moved on to the Head-to-Head Match. The contestant was allowed to choose the celebrity they wanted to attempt to match (thus the Star Wheel was not used). Each panelist held a secret multiplier (four held a 10, four held a 20 and one held a 30), which if the contestant and panelist matched would multiply their Audience Match figure by that number (thus, a $1,000 Audience Match win, followed by a correct match in the Head-to-Head Match with a panelist holding the 30 multiplier, would award the contestant the grand prize of 30×$1,000, or $30,000). The panelist and contestant were given another short phrase similar to the audience match; the panelist would write down their answer in secret, the contestant would state their answer, and the panelist would then reveal their answer: if it was an exact match, the contestant's prize would be multiplied.

Regardless of the end result of the Super Match, the contestant would return the next day to play Hollywood Squares against the next day's Match Game winner and could play up to five days before retiring.

Broadcast history

Gene Rayburn
Jon Bauman

The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour debuted on October 31, 1983 at 3:00 PM in the Eastern time zone (2:00 PM in the Central and Pacific time zones and 1:00 PM in the Mountain time zone) on NBC. Both Match Game and Hollywood Squares had been aired on NBC, with (The) Match Game (albeit with different rules) airing from 1962 to 1969 and (The) Hollywood Squares airing from 1966 to 1980.

The show's only regular panelists were the co-hosts—Bauman sat on the panel during Match Game and the Super Match, while Rayburn sat on the panel during Hollywood Squares. The most frequent semi-regular panelist was actress Nedra Volz, who appeared for nine weeks, followed closely by returning Match Game regular Charles Nelson Reilly, who appeared in seven weeks. Several of the panelists were previously regulars or semi-regulars on Match Game, including Fannie Flagg (who appeared four weeks), McLean Stevenson, Fred Travalena and Bill Daily; Bauman himself, as Bowzer, had also previously appeared on Match Game. George Gobel, who appeared one week, was the only Hollywood Squares regular to ever appear on the program. For each week of episodes, the panelists (other than Bauman and Rayburn) would rotate so that on some days, they would only play Hollywood Squares, and on others they would play both.

Cast members of other NBC series often appeared on the show. It was also a starting point for new, unknown, and up-and-coming stars who would go on to greater fame, such as Jay Leno and Arsenio Hall (both of which would become successes as late-night talk show hosts). Game show hosts also appeared on the show, including Bill Cullen, Bob Eubanks, Pat Sajak, Bill Rafferty, and Chuck Woolery (who promoted Scrabble during the week before it premiered). The cast of Leave It to Beaver was reunited for one week at the end of 1983, while a week in May 1984 featured NBC soap opera stars. Also, the cast of Too Close For Comfort and the cast of St. Elsewhere appeared in '84, as well as a special salute to the fifties.


Original Squares host Peter Marshall, in his autobiography, states that he expected to be asked to host the Hollywood Squares portion once he heard that they had secured Rayburn's participation, but he was never approached. He also admitted having some schadenfreude at the show's cancellation, saying: "I kind of hate to admit that I was happy when it didn't even last one season."[3]

This version was the last time to date that Hollywood Squares aired on a broadcast network; in 1986, a syndicated revival aired for three years with John Davidson as host. A further revival, hosted by Tom Bergeron, aired in syndication from 1998 to 2004. A hip hop-themed series based on the format, Hip Hop Squares, aired on MTV2 in 2012, and was revived for VH1 in 2017. A fourth spinoff, this one pertaining to country music, Nashville Squares, debuted on CMT in 2019.[4] This was in addition to several parodies and one-offs of varying degrees of official endorsement; Howard Stern's version, Homeless Howiewood Squares, for example, included Rayburn reprising his role as a regular panelist.

Match Game did not return to the airwaves until a revival on ABC in 1990, with Ross Shafer as host. Match Game was again revived in 1998, hosted by Michael Burger. Each lasted one season. Match Game was used as one of the semifinal games in CBS' Summer 2006 airing of Game $how Marathon hosted by Ricki Lake; a version of the show produced in Canada aired for two seasons beginning in 2012, and a prime time version on ABC debuted in 2016 with Alec Baldwin as host.

Rayburn went on to host two more game shows: Break the Bank (from which he was fired after 13 weeks) and the short-lived game The Movie Masters for AMC from 1989 to 1990. Bauman, whose only other hosting credit was the concurrent The Pop 'N Rocker Game, has not hosted another game show since.

Prior to 2019, the program had never been re-broadcast due to cross-ownership issues between MGM (Orion’s successor), Fremantle (Goodson/Todman’s successor), and the distribution agents originally responsible for the original NBC run until Fremantle's digital multicast network, Buzzr, aired four episodes (the Tuesday-Friday shows of premiere week) on February 17, 2019. Buzzr also mentioned that they will be working on digitizing and cleaning up the original master tapes in order to get the show on their regular schedule later in the year. Fremantle noted that the addition was being done for two reasons: to increase the number of Match Game episodes available for the network to rerun, and to add some form of Hollywood Squares (which the network does not own; ViacomCBS' CBS Television Distribution unit is the current rightsholder to the show's format[5]) onto the channel's lineup.[6] Former host Bauman wrote on Twitter[7], "Understand that this was the only completely honest version of Hwd Squares ever where no Squares were sitting there with the punch lines of the jokes in front of them." On September 12, 2019, it was reported that Buzzr's new primetime lineup would feature the show, starting September 30.[8]


The theme of The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour was composed by Edd Kalehoff. The theme and the music played during the show's ticket plug are used as car and showcase cues on The Price is Right, as well as the 1986–89 version of Card Sharks.

A revamp of the theme, "Lottery", was used by WNEV-TV/WHDH-TV in Boston during the late 1980s and early 1990s as well as several local Illinois game shows; it can also be heard at the stage show The Price Is Right Live!

The theme was also used as a cue on the British version of The Price is Right (more specifically The New Price is Right) hosted by Bob Warman, which briefly aired on Sky from 1989 until 1990.


  1. Schwartz, David; Ryan, Steve; Wostbrock, Fred (1999). The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows (3 ed.). Facts on File, Inc. pp. 139–140. ISBN 0-8160-3846-5.
  2. McNeil, Alex (1996). Total television: the comprehensive guide to programming from 1948 to the present. Penguin Books. p. 531. ISBN 9780140249163.
  3. Marshall, Peter; Armstrong, Adrienne (2002-07-17). Backstage with the original Hollywood square. Thomas Nelson Inc. ISBN 9781418566005.
  4. Donnelly, Matthew Scott (October 4, 2019). "TV Nashville Squares Ready to Turn Country Icons Into Comedy Kings + Queens". CMT. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  5. ""CMT's Nashville Squares" Hosted By Comedian Bob Saget To Premiere on Friday, November 1st at 8p/7c". The Country Note. October 4, 2019. Retrieved October 21, 2019. “CMT’s Nashville Squares” is executive produced by Jesse Collins and Dionne Harmon from Jesse Collins Entertainment (also “VH1’s Hip Hop Squares”). Neal Konstantini serves as executive producer/show runner. The series is directed by Ivan Dudynsky. Candida Boyette-Clemons and Trevor Rose are executive producers for CMT with Leslie Fram as executive-in-charge of music. The (Hollywood Squares) format is licensed from CBS Television Distribution.
  6. Adalian, Josef (2019-02-01). "Holy [Blank]: The Long-Lost Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour Returns to TV After 35-Year Absence". Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  7. "Jon "Bowzer" Bauman on Twitter".
  8. "TVMoJoe on Twitter".
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