It's more than Password, it's !!!


NBC Daytime


January 8, 1979 - March 26, 1982
Tom started hosting in October 1980


Gene Wood

Produced by

Mark Goodson - Bill Todman Productions


Tom took over for Allen Ludden as the host of the spinoff of the classic word game.

The game is played with two teams, each comprised of a celebrity and a civilian. Tom gives the password to one member of each team, and that person has to give a one-word clue to prompt his/her partner to guess the password.


If correct, the word goes on the board, if wrong the opposing team does likewise. Each team is allowed two clues. If neither team guesses a password, it's placed on the board and no one guesses. If neither team guesses the final password, the answer to the puzzle is revealed and the round is thrown out.


After a word is placed on the board, the team's guesser for the round guesses the answer to the "Password Puzzle," a well-known person, place, or thing. There is total of five passwords/clues for each puzzle. If the guesser can't give a correct answer with all five answers revealed, his/her partner has a chance to answer. If neither one gets it right, the puzzle is thrown out.

The first two rounds are worth $100, every round after is worth $200, with $300 winning the game and a chance at $5,000 in the "Alphabetics" round.

10 successive letters of the alphabet (A-J, F-O, etc.) are shown, representing the first letter of each password. The clue-giver and guesser alternate between giving a clue and giving a guess. $100 is awarded for each password guessed, with $5,000 for all ten. If an illegal clue (opposite, two words, a hyphenated word) is given, $1,000 is taken out of the jackpot.


In  November 1981, the format was considerably tweaked. It now took $500 to win the game; teams played three puzzles worth $100, after which the contestants switched celebrity partners (taking their scores with them) and played $200 puzzles until there was a winner. Alphabetics now offered higher stakes, with the payoff for solving ten passwords in 60 seconds starting at $5,000 and increasing by $5,000 until won. (There was also a rule that the Alphabetics jackpot would freeze at $50,000, though this rule never came into effect; the largest jackpot awarded during the five months of this format was $30,000.) As the stakes increased, however, so did the penalty. An illegal clue subtracted 20% of the jackpot, no matter so it was (i.e., the penalty for a $5,000 jackpot was still $1,000, but on the $20,000 level, the penalty would be $4,000).

From 1981, it's a great minute-long contestant plug, featuring announcer Gene Wood on camera!

Tom's performance is, to abuse a cliche, making lemons out of lemonade, as he carries on a happy, cheerful mannor despite becoming emcee through incredibly sad circumstances. He was brought in under the guise of being "substitute host" for Allen Ludden, although it was obvious to everyone who knew him that Allen was losing his battle to stomach cancer. Tom was now the permanent host, and Allen passed away in 1981.


On the final episode of "Password Plus" in 1982, Tom paid tribute to his predecessor in the final moments of the show:

"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 he could do for something like eighteen years...and so, I was very proud to have the last year and a half at the helm."

To Tom's credit though, he avoided the mistake of trying to "be" Allen, and simply hosted the show as if it was his domain and hosted the show with his own style and nobody else's. The result was a year and a half that Allen would have been proud of, as Tom showed himself to be competent and able in the role he was suddenly thrust into, and keeping the show as cheerful as possible despite the sadness backstage.


One of the most endearing things about Tom's performance on this show was his respect for Allen. As the emcee it was Tom's job to make the show his own domain, which he did handily. However, for Tom, that didn't trying to block out the former occupant of the podium. Tom frequently mentioned Allen Ludden. He opened his first episode with a dedication to the ailing emcee, gave periodic updates to the home viewer about how Allen's recuperation was going, and on a few occasions (such as the French blooper) even directly addressing Allen when looking at the camera. It's truly proof that a broadcaster can make a something his own and uphold a respect for history. "Password" was Allen Ludden's show, but as Betty White said, Tom Kennedy took good care of it for him.

Trying to replace an irreplacable emcee. (3.1 MB)



CLICK HERE to get a play-by-play recap of the infamous France/French Blooper.

Confessions of a Password Plus player! 1980 contestant Rosanne Ullman shares her memories of the show HERE.

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