The Paul Winchell Show, or The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show, or The Spiedel Show, was a variety program which aired on NBC prime time from 1950 to 1954, starring ventriloquist Paul Winchell and his dummy, Jerry Mahoney.
The program had comedy and dramatic skits, quiz questions, and a section called “What’s My Name?”, in which contestants sought to guess the identity of a celebrity based on a few clues. What’s My Name? was also the title of the series in the 1952–1953 season. There was for a time a second dummy too, Knucklehead Smiff. Other cast members were Dorothy Claire, Hilda Vaughn, and Jimmy Blaine.
The series was known as The Speidel Show from its premiere on September 18, 1950, until December 1951, when it was renamed for its star. The annual Look television awards, named for the defunct magazine, were presented on special telecasts of The Paul Winchell Show in December 1952 and December 1953, with top names in show business making appearances. In the awards program which aired on December 20, 1953, the guests were Sid Caesar. Imogene Coca, John Charles Daly, Edward R. Murrow, and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. Jack Webb was seen on a special film footage.
Winchell and Mahoney got their start in early 1940s radio in the series Major Bowe’s Original Amateur Hour. They had a short-lived radio program in 1943. The two debuted on television in 1947 and in 1948, Winchell was a co-host of the prime time The Bigelow Show.
Jerry’s personality was that of a sassy wise-cracking child and later adolescent. Winchell increasingly becomes exasperated with his dummy’s antics and insolence.
Carol Burnett made her television debut in a Saturday morning episode of the series in 1955.
After its prime time run, The Paul Winchell Show aired on Saturday mornings for two years in “Jerry’s Clubhouse” and then moved to ABC as Circus Time. The series then moved to Sunday afternoons until 1961. It returned again to Saturday mornings from 1965 to 1968.
After his television series ended, Winchell focused the remainder of his life in the field of medicine. He patented a blood storage system and an artificial human heart. Winchell provided the voice of Tigger in Winnie the Pooh, Dick Dastardly in Wacky Races, and Gargamel in The Smurfs. Paul Winchell died in June 2005 due to natural causes.