After asking all the questions, the panelists would guess, and the host would finally say "Would the real {contestant} please stand up?" That phrase is the single lasting impact the show had on American culture as far as I can see. This show, along with $20,000 Pyramid seems to account for the entire career of Nipsey Russell.

A classic Mark Goodson-Bill Todman panel show.

There have been five different versions of "To Tell the Truth" broadcast, but all have used essentially the same rules, and essentially the same opening spiel by the announcer.

Announcer: Number one, what is your name, please?
Contestant One: My name is John Doe.
Contestant Two: My name is John Doe.
Contestant Three: My name is John Doe.
Announcer: Only one of these three is the real John Doe, and is the only one sworn to tell the truth.

From there, the host would read an affidavit, purportedly written by the real person, to tell the panel and the audience why this person was interesting. Then each of the four panelists would get a couple of minutes to ask questions of each of the contestants. As stated in the opening, the real person was obligated to answer the panelists' questions truthfully, but the two imposters were encouraged to lie, of course. The imposters would have had a briefing with the real person and a show producer before the game began, trying to anticipate what questions the panelists would ask so that the imposters would be able to lie believably.

After questioning time was over, the panelists would each mark a ballot "without consultation" to vote for the contestant they thought was telling the truth.

Upon hearing the phrase "Will the real John Doe please stand up?" from the host at the end of the round, all three contestants would usually look around at each other, then one or both of the imposters would start to stand up, before, finally, the real John Doe would stand up.

Originally, the prize was $250 for each wrong vote, for a potential total of $1,000, split three ways among the contestants, not to mention a gift pack of products from the makers of Anacin or a carton of Salem cigarettes. If there were no wrong votes, the contestants split $150.

The original version premiered as a weekly prime-time series on the CBS network on December 18, 1956, and daily daytime episodes began running concurrently on June 18, 1962. The prime-time run ended on May 22, 1967, after having bounced around to several different time slots in 11 years, most notably a 6-year stint on Mondays at 7:30 Eastern time. In daytime, the show lasted until September 6, 1968, airing for almost its entire run at 3:00 P.M.

The host of the original version was Bud Collyer. Although many people rotated on and off the panel, the regular team consisted of Orson Bean, Peggy Cass, Tom Poston, and Kitty Carlisle.

The second version was a daily syndicated show, beginning production in the fall of 1969 and lasting until 1978. The host of this version was Garry Moore, who retired in 1977 and was replaced by Joe Garagiola. Regular panelists on this version were Peggy Cass, Bill Cullen, and Kitty Carlisle, with Tom Poston and Orson Bean making occasional appearances along with other substitutes.

One of the most interesting features of the second version was the color scheme of the original set, which could best be described as paisley. After three years or so, the mod design was replaced with a more toned down blue.

A third version in the fall of 1980 was also syndicated, with host Robin Ward and regular panelists Peggy Cass and Soupy Sales. The major addition to this version was the "One on One" segment at the end, in which a previously unknown fact would be revealed about one of the four imposters who had appeared in the previous segments, and the panelists would briefly ask questions to determine which imposter the revelation belonged to.

The fourth version ran daily from September 3, 1990, to May 31, 1991, on the NBC network at 11:00 A.M. Eastern. There were three different hosts during the run of this version: Gordon Elliott was replaced by former football player Lynn Swann, who was himself replaced by Alex Trebek (who was, at the time, also hosting "Jeopardy!" and "Classic Concentration"). There were no regular panelists on this version, although Kitty Carlisle appeared frequently. This was the first version to originate from Los Angeles (actually, from NBC's Burbank studios; all previous versions had been taped in New York.

The "One on One" segment was changed for this version. Announcer Burton Richardson would find an audience member, and they and the panel would listen to a guest tell two different stories. Each panelist would ask the guest one question, and then the audience member would decide which of the two stories was true, winning $500 for a correct guess.

The fifth version premiered in syndication in the fall of 2000, with host John O'Hurley. Regular panelists were Meshach Taylor and Paula Poundstone in the first season, and Taylor, Brooke Burns, and Kim Coles in the second. This version dropped "One on One," but added an audience vote to the four panelists' votes in each contestant segment. Kitty Carlisle appeared as a panelist on a few episodes of this version, at the age of 90, becoming the only person to have appeared on a game show in six straight decades, from the 1950s to the 2000s.

Reruns of the first four versions have aired on Game Show Network, although only the prime-time episodes survive from the first version, and only one episode was saved on color videotape (the rest are kinescopes).

The second version was one of the few game shows to have a theme song with lyrics.

It's a lie, lie, you're telling a lie
I never know why you don't know how
To tell the truth, truth, truth, truth
You don't know how to tell the truth, yeah

I'm a fool, fool, I've been such a fool
I'm blowing my cool with you right now
To tell the truth, truth, truth, truth

You say you went home early last night
The book you read's out of sight
And that's why you took your phone off the hook
And never did get my call

It's a lie, lie, I should say goodbye
But I'm gonna try to teach you how
To tell the truth, truth, truth, truth
You don't know how to tell the truth

It's a lie, lie, you're telling a lie
I never know why you don't know how
To tell the truth, truth, truth, truth
You don't know how to tell the truth, yeah

I'm a fool, fool, I've been such a fool
I'm blowing my cool with you right now
To tell the truth
You don't know how to tell the truth
To tell the truth
You don't know how to tell the truth
To tell the truth
You don't know how to tell...

The fourth version of the show used an instrumental verson of this theme song; the other three used different instrumental themes.

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