1913 – 1981
Who was Hal Block?
Harold "Hal" Block was an American comedy writer, comedian, producer, songwriter and television personality. Although Block was a highly successful comedy writer for over 15 years, today he is most often remembered as an original panelist of the television game show What's My Line? who was fired from the show in only its third season, reportedly for inappropriate on-air behavior. Block is a controversial figure in the history of television with denunciations being made by some, while praised by others as a writer and for contributing to the original success of What's My Line?
During the 1940s, Block was considered one of America's best comedy writers, having worked for many of the top comedians of the era, such as Bob Hope, Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis, Milton Berle and Burns and Allen and in all major mediums, including radio, Hollywood movies, Broadway and print. Block also made a major contribution to the USO during World War II.
In March 1950, producers of the new game show What's My Line? hired Block for its fourth episode to add humor to the show's format. With a panel previously consisting of journalists, a politician and a poet, reviewers had criticized the show as bland. After a rocky start, What's My Line? became one of the top-rated shows on television. Critics praised his work; the Chicago Sun-Times called Block the "freshest new personality in TV." However, Block sometimes seemed to lack a sense of propriety. He once risked the sponsor's wrath, referring to their deodorant with the line "Make your armpit a charmpit." His humor could be risqué which antagonized some conservative 1950s viewers. In early 1953, Block was suspended and then fired. He left show business for the investment business a few years later, while What's My Line? continued on as a staple of Sunday night television for another 14 years.
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- Aug 2, 1913
- Also known as
- Harold Block
- United States of America
- University of Chicago
- Jun 16, 1981
on July 23, 2013