Masquerade Party was a game show that went through various incarnations from 1952 through 1974, for a total of eight season. A panel of four celebrities tried to guess the identity of another celebrity disguised with heavy make-up and costume. The mystery guests played for money (one dollar for every minute the panel is stumped) to go to charity. Bud Collyer was the original host, followed by Douglas Edwards in 1953. Peter Donald took over from 1954 to 1956, then Eddie Bracken (1957), Robert Q. Lewis (briefly in 1958), and Bert Parks (1958 to 1960). The show was revived in 1974 with a pre-Family Feud Richard Dawson for one season before it succumbed to poor ratings.
Only a few of the early episodes exist -- one each from 1955, 1957, and 1959. The clip below is from 1955, when Peter Donald was host. Donald was a British-born actor who had a solid career in radio (a regular on Fred Allen's Allen's Alley and host of the popular panel show Can You Top This?), moved to television in the late Forties, and was a fairly regular face on television in the Fifties (hosting game shows and making comedy and dramatic appearances).
The panel this time around included actor and band leader Bobby Sherwood, pneumatic (42"-23"-39"*) actress and personality Dagmar, poet Ogden Nash, and actress and novelist Ilka Chase. Among those wearing disguises in this episode are legendary boxer Archie Moore and restaurateur Toots Shor. The sponsor was Esquire shoe polish so all of the mystery guests walked off a bunch of shoe polish, which must have pleased them no end.
If the show's allotted time ran out during a segment, everything came to a halt and the mystery guest and his/her costume returned the next week to finish the segment. In this episode, time ran out six seconds (!) into the segment and we never find out who the mystery guest was (evidently it was Name That Tune host George DeWitt).
Host Donald proclaimed that Masquerade Party was the most exciting show on television. Things were much simpler then.
So, from 1955, prepare to be excited**:
* Those large bullet-shaped things that appeared on the front of several makes of automobile in the Fifties were called "Dagmar Bumps." Wonder why? And "Dagmar's Twin 40s" was the nickname for the twin 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns used on planes during the Korean War. Curious. I just mention this because I want you to keep abreast of all things cultural in the Fifties.
** None of the original commercials are included in this clip. Instead modern day commercials are slipped in. It's sneaky and I apologize for this. We all must suffer for art.