January 8, 1979 - March 26, 1982
Tom started hosting in October 1980
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"
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)
HERE to get a play-by-play recap of the infamous France/French Blooper.