Fun Flashback: ‘Storybook Squares’ Debuts (1969)

Fifty-two years ago today, on January 4, 1969, NBC debuted the unique game show Storybook Squares, a special dress-up version of Hollywood Squares.

Doc Severinsen, Bonnie Franklin, Roddy McDowall, William Shatner & Julie McWhirter (Image via NBC)

The gimmick was that all the stars were in costume as storybook characters of one sort or another, a fun idea that for some reason didn't stick — only 16 episodes ran in 1969, though another 30 were produced for the 1976-1976 season.

Here is one of the 1969 installments, hosted by Peter Marshall (b. 1926):

Wally Cox (1924-1973) is Paul Revere; Stu Gilliam (1933-2013) is Merlin the Magician; Soupy Sales (1926-2009) is Henry VIII; Carolyn Jones (1930-1983) reprises her Morticia Addams character; Arte Johnson (1929-2019) reprises his (Nazi!) soldier character; Abby Dalton (1932-2020) is Little Miss Muffet; Cliff Arquette (1905-1974) as Charlie Weaver; Nanette Fabray (1920-2018) is the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe; and ventriloquist Paul Winchell (1922-2005) and his dummy Jerry Mahoney as Romeo & Juliet.

Poor Carolyn Jones only dressed up as her iconic character this one time — and wasn't even used on the episode.

George Gobel (1919-1991), Karen Valentine (b. 1947), Paul Lynde (1926-1982), Rose Marie (1923-2017) and Roddy McDowall. (Image via NBC)

Now, check out this 1976 edition, with William Shatner (b. 1931) as Captain Kirk; Charo (allegedly b. 1941-1951) as Lady Godiva; Roddy McDowall (1928-1998) as Pinocchio; Bonnie Franklin (1944-2013) as Goldilocks; John Byner (b. 1938) as Long John Silver; Joan Rivers (1933-2014) the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe; Rip Taylor (1931-2019) as General Custer; Julie McWhirter (b. 1947) as the Good Faerie (really Glinda, the Good Witch of the North); and Doc Severinsen (b. 1927) as the Pied Piper:

I must say that Roddy had the most risqué one-liner, noting he was made by his father and urging that everyone should be. Joan Rivers had the wittiest comment, saying that as the Old Woman who didn't know what to do, she was upset that she finally found out what to do — "but I already have the kids!"

It's such a strange set-up, because The Hollywood Squares veers toward racy double-entendres, and yet two of the contestants in both the original and rebooted versions were kids.

They don't make dad jokes like these anymore!

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