Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Take A Good Look

Most Kovacsians are familiar with "Take A Good Look," a game show hosted by Ernie from October 22, 1959 to February 9, 1961, Thursday nights, 10:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. on ABC television. For those who are not, I've borrowed a description of the program from blog contributor Ben Model's website, "The Unofficial Official Ernie Kovacs Website:"

"Dutch Masters sponsored Ernie's version of the popular panel show, such as "What's My Line" and "To Tell the Truth," which he had been sending up for years on his own shows. The program was called "Take a Good Look" and aired from October 1959 through February 1961, when he began making his monthly specials. The concept was simple. Ernie's panelists had to guess his guest's occupation by asking the guest questions and watching 3 videotaped clues. The clues were basically Kovacs, Bobby Lauher and Jolene Brand doing blackout gags which had something -- something extremely remote -- to do with the guest's occupation. The clues were funny and surreal, but usually left the panel clueless. A couple of episodes were released on home video from 16mm kinnies (albeit surreptitiously) in the 1980s, and they pop up on eBay sporadically."

Thank you, Ben, for saving me some work. I'll add that some of the hapless panelists included Cesar Romero, Edie Adams, Hans Conreid and Carl Reiner. I also remember an episode with one of the Gabor sisters, but I can't recall which one (it was Eva or Zsa-Zsa, not Magda).

An Ernie fan showed me the bootleg video of "TAGL" to which Ben refers. Like Ben said it shows up sporadically on the websites of shady DVD sellers and on eBay. It contains several full episodes of "TAGL" with commercials. If you'd like to see the show your best bet is to visit the Museum Of TV And Radio in either New York City or Los Angeles where you can see full episodes. Your other option is to watch clips on "The Best Of Ernie Kovacs" 2 DVD set. Be advised that the clips only exist as extras on the 2 DVD set; the 5 VHS tape set DOESN'T have them. And speaking of the Museum Of TV And Radio I found out this morning that on June 5th they officially changed their name to "The Paley Center For Media" named for industry pioneer and former CBS chairman William S. Paley. For some reason there are two websites, one under the old name which can be accessed from the link above and one under the new name at

There's another purpose to this week's post besides just educating you about "TAGL." A friend from "over the pond" in England contacted me with an interesting story. Here it is, in her own words:

This is my story- My name is Judy Stivers. I was born in Birmingham England and grew up there. In 1958 I met & married my husband (Bryant Stivers) who was in the air force @ the time. On a Pan Am flight to the United States I gave birth to twin girls. The plane was over the Atlantic 80 miles N.E. of Newfoundland at the time of their birth. Needless to say there was a lot of publicity about it. The Take A Good Look Staff contacted me by phone & I was on my way to CA to be on Ernie's show. Edie Adams, Cesar Romero and Rowan & Martin were the panelists. Ernie came out dressed in basketball attire and threw one basketball into the air and three came down. We were instructed to give one word answers to the panelist questions. They did not guess what had happened to me. I was given $300.00 for appearing on the show. In 1959 not everyone had a TV so we did not get to see the show which aired in Nov. 1959. If anyone has any information as to whether the show still exists I would appreciate any information you may have.

So there you have it folks. I told Judy that I don't know of a copy of that episode existing anyplace (its not on the bootleg DVD nor the "Best Of." I'm also not sure if the Museum Of TV And Radio has it); if anyone has info about this episode I hope you'll let me know, either by posting a comment here or by contacting me through my main site, You can also contact me through the Ernie Kovacs MySpace Fan Page which this week is up to 397 friends, an increase of 9 from last week's total of 388. Thanks as usual to everyone who added us or accepted a request from us.

And now, the Kovacsian blog posts and news clips from the past week in Kovacsland:

A great article by David Sarno of the LA Times about the proliferation of vintage video clips on sites such as YouTube

Dr. Wes Browning has a nice Ernie post this week

Have Opinion Will Travel with an Ernie post

Endless Mike's Farewell talks about Esquivel and shows a couple of Ernie clips

Until next week, "Its Been Real!"


Anonymous said...

The episode you saw had Zsa Zsa in it... I have this episode, plus Jack Moglescu of Dutch Masters refers to her while talking about the show in the 'Original Genius.' doc. ("She was so confused she forgot to ghet married," he says)

Al Quagliata said...


Thanks for clearing that up. I appreciate it. Now if I can only find a tape of Judy's show...

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Josh Mills is the man who stands guard outside of the Ernie Kovacs vault. Ask him is he is familiar with this particular program. I have seen many installments of TAGL and I don't recall Rowan and Martin ever appearing.

Al Quagliata said...


I don't think Rowan & Martin ever appeared on TAGL.

Ben Model said...

I have had access to the inventory list of the Ediad collection as part of my research and curatorial work on the Kovacs DVD set. I can tell you that videotape masters survive on many of the episodes from the entire 2-year run of Take a Good Look. However, these shows have not been logged in detail, just airdates.

There is a possibility this particular episode survives. I can't speak to whether Rowan & Martin were panelists; a fan sent a detailed list of ep's and panelists culled from TV Guides to my site several years ago, and R&M were not listed.

Al Quagliata said...


Thanks for clarifying. Before contacting you I went over to your site to find that list but couldn't locate it. I remember the person who submitted that, many moons ago.

Maybe it will surface one day on a DVD collection of TAGL episodes. That would be great!