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Fame is intense but fleeting in a TV-driven culture, which is one of the many reasons why I love watching the old What’s My Line? kinescopes that air at three-thirty each morning on the Game Show Network. Most of the celebrities who appeared on the show between 1950 and 1967, when CBS cancelled it to make way for Mission: Impossible, are now dead, but a few are very much with us, though many of them are long forgotten. I saw an episode a couple of nights ago in which Mitch Miller was the mystery guest. The audience all but tore the roof off when he came on stage—yet who now remembers him save for pop-music historians and retired oboe players? On the other hand, Jerry Lewis, a guest panelist on another of last week’s episodes, is both alive and well remembered, so much so that I’m actually giving serious thought to reading his new book, unlikely as it may sound.
The difference, of course, is that Lewis was a movie star….