The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour is an American television game show that combined two game shows of the 1960s and 1970s – Match Game and Hollywood Squares – into an hour-long format.
The series ran from October 31, 1983 to July 27, 1984 on NBC. Gene Rayburn hosted 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 a joint production of Mark Goodson Productions and Orion Television, which owned the rights to Squares at the time.
The show began with two new contestants playing a round of 1970s-style Match Game with a panel of six celebrities, including Bauman in the bottom left seat. 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.
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) 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; to date, 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.
Perhaps the most significant rule change involved winning a game. On all versions of Squares before and since, if a contestant went for a block 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, thus 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.
The champion could win up to $30,000 in the Super Match, which resembled the round played on the pre-1978 editions of the show instead of the editions that used what was referred to as the "Star Wheel". The primary differences were the use of nine celebrities – Bauman, plus the other eight who took part in the Hollywood Squares segment – rather than six, and the method for determining the potential top prize.
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 item such as "Trading ______ ." The contestant was allowed to call on any three celebrities for help. $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.
For the Head-to-Head Match, each celebrity had a card that concealed a number: four 10's, four 20's, one 30. The champion selected one celebrity, who revealed the number on his/her card; if the champion and celebrity gave the same response to the item asked by Rayburn, the Audience Match winnings were multiplied by that number ($500 x 30 = $15,000, for example). The long-standing requirement for an exact match was in place.
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 1962–69 and (The) Hollywood Squares airing from 1966–80.
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. Several guests on the show did have prior Match Game experience including Charles Nelson Reilly, Fannie Flagg, McLean Stevenson, Fred Travalena, and Bauman (who previously appeared on Match Game and Password Plus in his "Bowzer" persona). Of the former 1970s regulars of Match Game Reilly appeared the most, guesting in seven weeks of episodes, followed by Flagg with four weeks. George Gobel was the only Hollywood Squares regular to ever appear on the program.
Cast members of other NBC series often appeared on the show, as did stand-up comedians like Jay Leno and Arsenio Hall. 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.
Original Squares host Peter Marshall expressed disappointment that he was not chosen to co-host this show, saying that he was "happy" that it did not last more than a season. When the Hour was cancelled, plans were immediately made to revive both franchises as stand-alone programs. MG-HS was the last time that Hollywood Squares aired on a network; in 1986, a successful 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 short-lived series based on the format, Hip Hop Squares, aired on MTV2 in 2012 and VH1 in 2016.
This was the last time Gene Rayburn hosted any form of Match Game. 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. 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.
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 prize 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!