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Subject: MONDAY, JANUARY 8, 1979

Written By: AH3RD on 01/08/09 at 6:39 am

“It's more than Password, it's Password+Plus!”

Password+Plus, a fourth incarnation of Goodson-Todman’s tried and true star-studded War Of The Words, premiered @ 11:30 a.m. Eastern on NBC Daytime (following the debut of All-Star Secrets, a Bob Eubanks-hosted vehicle). Originally announced in Variety as Password '79, a decision was made two weeks before the debut to change the title to Password+Plus. 59-year-old Allen Ludden was back in the saddle as emcee, and Gene Wood was tapped to be announcer; Elizabeth Montgomery and Robert Foxworth, both topnotch Password players of the past, were the first-week celebrities. (John Harlan Password], Bob Hilton, Johnny Olsen and Rich Jefferies also took their turns at announcing during the run.)

Here, 2 celebrity/contestant teams compete. The object here is to solve a "Password Puzzle", a famous person, place, thing, or title. Up to 5 Passwords are guessed by the teams, with each Password working as a clue to The Password Puzzle. Teams alternate giving clues, with each team receiving 2 chances. When a team guesses a password, they are given a chance to solve The Password Puzzle to win the round. Teams alternate playing first and giving/guessing as in the classic Password game. Rounds 1 & 2 are worth $100 each, rounds 3 & 4 $200 each. The first team to amass/exceed $300 wins the match and earns the right to play the bonus round: "Alphabetics," a revamped edition of the old “Lightning Round” in the Passwords of the past (and borrowing a bit from ABC’s The $20,000 Pyramid).

Alphabetics is played with 10 Passwords that start with 10 consecutive letters of the alphabet. The celebrity has 60 seconds to convey the Passwords to the contestant as in The Lightning Round. Each Password must be solved or passed before the next Password is revealed, and a celebrity can only go back to those words he/she passed on after revealing all 10. Each Password solved is worth $100, and completing all 10 Passwords wins the contestant $5,000. If the celebrity gives an illegal clue, the potential jackpot was lowered by $1,000.

The game managed to survive the loss of Allen Ludden, who, due to illness, was forced to retire from the show in October 1980 and was superseded by Tom Kennedy. (Ludden previously took a 4-week sabbatical in April 1980 to have surgery done on him, and Bill Cullen hosted in his stead.) An all-celebrity week was scheduled for the first Kennedy week of shows in order to ease the transition, which was comprised of Jim Perry from Card Sharks, Greg Morris, Judy Norton-Taylor and Nancy Walker. Tom said some heartfelt words about Allen before the start of his first show (“To Allen Ludden: with each show, we send you our love. Our thoughts are with you.”), and then moved right into the game. Kennedy did indeed guide viewers through its most trying transitional period, even in the wake of Ludden’s passing in June 1981 (which was never mentioned on the show).

Near the end of the run, in March 1982, Jack Narz, Tom Kennedy’s brother, swapped places with him for one game during his week playing Password+Plus; Jack hosted and Tom played. On March 26, Password+Plus wrapped up a shaky yet nice 3 ½-year run on NBC, after 800 shows. The final celebrity panelists were Audrey Landers and Tom Poston. Tom Kennedy mentioned his late friend and colleague in the show’s fading moments:

"This is the last in our series of Password+Plus, and even though our dear friend Allen Ludden isn't with us at this particular moment, as you well know he hosted this show as only as he could do for something like 18 years. And so, I was very proud to have the last year and a half here at the helm. All I can say is you know the show's going to be back soon, so until then, on behalf of all the people with Goodson-Todman, who have the best staff in the entire world; NBC, the best network—I don't care what anybody says!—we got a crew around here that just simply cannot be beat. There are too many people to bring up onstage; I'd love to do it, but I wouldn't know all the names anyway. I'm so bad; it's just awful! It has been absolutely terrific, so what we want to say to you, though, is thank you for being the great friends you have been through all 20 years. It'll be back soon, and we'll all look forward to seeing you again real soon. On behalf of all of us, 'bye for now, and be good to yourselves!"

Sure enough, 2 years later, in September 1984, Password was back on NBC…in the form of the newly revamped Super Password, emceed by Bert Convy.

(JANUARY 8, 1979 - JANUARY 8, 2009)

Subject: Re: MONDAY, JANUARY 8, 1979

Written By: whistledog on 01/08/09 at 8:28 pm

Good ol' Allen Ludden.  I still remember that episode of The Odd Couple where Felix and Oscar went on the original Password

I wasn't around for the original Password or Password Plus, but I did watch the Bert Convy era 'Super Password' in the 80s which I still love to this day

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