Airdate(s):

September 1974-1981
January 3- June 10, 1977

Network(s):
1974-78: Weekly Syndication (Prime-time)
1977: NBC Daytime
1978-81: Twice-a-Week Syndication (Prime-time)
Announcer(s):
John Harlan
Produced By:
Ralph Edwards Productions

“From Hollywood, the music capital of the world, this is..."

 

Tom was the master of the music for seven superb years of a classic musical quiz that never seemed to stop evolving.

 

"Name That Tune" had begun life as a radio game in 1952, roaring onto television as a big money prime time game in 1953. Emceed for most of its run by George DeWitt (and briefly by Bill Cullen), the original "Name That Tune" consisted of a band playing a tune, and two contestants ran across the stage to ring the bell and name that tune. The big winner had a chance to be an even bigger winner by playing the Golden Medley (one of the first "bonus rounds" of the genre) for up to $25,000 in cash. And that was all it needed for a healthy run before disappearing like most quiz shows in 1959.

 

A revival popped up 1970 but disappeared after only 26 weeks. In 1974, legendary producer Ralph Edwards ("Truth or Consequences" and "This is Your Life") fittingly took control of the legendary game show, updating it for a new generation, and aiming to keep it fresh and exciting by updating it constantly. Behold, you'll find a series of pages examining the show and the various changes it underwent.

 


1974-76: THE FIRST TWO SEASONS
An old favorite returns, with doses of old and new elements coming together and building up to a possible $15,000 payday for a music lover.


1976-77: THE $100,000 MYSTERY TUNE
Everything old is new again. "Name That Tune" brought back the excitement and tension of the '50s quizzers with a big cash prize and an isolation booth.


1977: DAYTIME TUNE
Figuring that once a week wasn't enough, NBC added a daily version to their line-up. Surprisingly, it fizzled in six months.


1977-78: THE TUNES KEEP COMING

For season four, "Name That Tune" found a way to get viewers at home involved in the winning, and a face that would become famous on daytime TV was part of the prime time fun.


1978-81: ROCKING ON!
"Name That Tune" finished out one decade and roared into another with a major overhaul, including doubling the number of episodes per season, a new set, and rock & disco music galore.


2002: ONE MORE TIME
Happily retired for 15 years, Tom dusted off his microphone for another game of "Name That Tune" as part of a nostalgic look at classic game shows on NBC's "Today."

Well, what can I say? During the show’s first five seasons, this series had the perfect format, and all the needed ingredients for a solid half-hour of classic television. The $100,000 Mystery Tune was a heart-pounder (I mean, did you read that description of how it was done?)


Tom delivers the most energetic performance of his career on this series, and why not? He's surrounded by a live band and an energetic studio audience, feeding off their energy as he spends 30 minutes listening to music that he loves, and handing out a thick stack of cash and car keys for correct answers. (On one episode in the trading circuit, it's hard to figure out if the contestant or Tom is happier when Tom announces, "Here are the keys to your brand-new car!")


Tom, executive producer Ralph Edwards, Executive in Charge of Production Bruce Belland, and producer Ray Horl.
He plays up the Mystery Tune for all it’s worth, too. In the one episode I have he does a very blatant clearing of the throat before reading the information about the piece's history and copyright. And it's clear from the way he can't help swaying back & forth during the songs or air-guitaring the theme in later seasons that this is a music lover hosting a music game. Tom found his nirvana with "Name That Tune," and it shows.

Tom became part of a show that imbued itself into American pop culture, and even American vocabulary ("I can name that tune in one note" is still an always-dependable sarcastic quip). He also proved an indispensable part of the series, such a superb emcee and so memorable here that years after the show ended its run, he re-appeared as himself, playing the host of “Name That Tune” on an episode of the sitcom “Cybil.” They could have randomly hired any actor to play a game show host, but when they want Tom Kennedy himself to do the role, you know he’s performed a memorable job. Tom also appeared on numerous talk shows during the 90s, and although he had a large body of work to his credit after all those years, he was almost always there to talk about his seven memorable years on "Name That Tune."


I can name this show, and its host in one word...CLASSIC.



Tom's biggest hit, and fondest memories (2.81 MB, 7 min)


Up One Level to: The Shows of Tom Kennedy

Up Two Levels to: Tom Kennedy's World

Up Three Levels to: Game Show Utopia

 

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