Funny men have been a staple on Daytime Television game shows for decades – from Charles Nelson Reilly’s antics on “Match Game” to the legendary quips of Paul Lynde on “Hollywood Squares.” However, if you were to poll daytime fans and ask for their most memorable moments, the “Rip Taylor Wig Toss” on the hit game show series “Password” never fails to make the list.
Rip remembers, “It was the biggest moment of desperation in my entire career. Not one of those crappy old jokes I used in my act worked. So, I had a flash back to working in those strip joints in the beginning of my career and I remembered a phrase I heard every night from the girls backstage and I used it. It worked and still does – when in doubt take it off. “Password” was the epitome of my game show experiences and remains one of the number one questions fans comment about. I was doing the show with Bert Convey, who was hosting for the first time, and my opponent was Patty Duke … Yes, Helen Keller can talk. During the game, Patty unexpectedly blurted out THE Password, ‘Testimony.’ Well, I blew up, I screamed, I threw my script in the air, followed by my hair – Bert used it for hair on his chest and the audience roared for what felt like forever.”
A veteran of not only games shows, but also just about every talk show (as well as a few successful children’s programs) Taylor reminisces about some of his favorites. “Ed Sullivan would be on the top of the list, because it was my first show with him … and he forgot my name (laughs). And Michael Douglas was great. He had a show in Philly.” Adding, “Merv Griffin remains my favorite. He would let you do anything and many times even participated, which also got him laughs. He wasn’t a stupid man.”
Taylor also hosted his own daytime game show entitled The “$1.98 Beauty Show,” which ran from 1978 to 1980 … “IMDB still won’t list it on my credits … and I was the Host,” rants Rip. “I never personally insulted the contestants and the audience realized it. That’s why it worked for me. I discovered that lesson after the first show.”
Taylor has been called The Prince of Pandemonium, The Master of Mayhem as well as The King of Camp and Confetti. He recalls the first time he threw confetti, “It was my first time on ‘The Merv Griffin Show.’ I had 5 x7 cards and was so nervous I couldn’t read them. So I knocked over Merv’s desk, tore the cards into pieces, which became confetti, and then threw them at the audience. I ran up the aisle, went next door to Sardis and got drunk. The next day Merv called, saying ‘they want the crazy man who went berserk back.’ I offered to pay for any damage and clean it up, but Merv said ‘Hell no! They want more’ … and I’m still at it.”