Jesse Owens on television in 1960

Track star and Chicagoan was a 'What's My Line?' guest

October 25, 2013

The above clip is of track-and-field hero Jesse Owens appearing as a mystery guest on an August 1960 episode of the game show What's My Line?

It's good to see this, particularly in light of the Chicago Public School's decision this week to reinstate Owens' name at a West Pullman neighborhood school. His daughters led the fight that forced the system to restore the school's name.

In a century of heroes, Owens was one of the top. Not only for his athletic powess, but for the meaning of those four gold medals he won at the 1936 Berlin Olympics—something What's My Line?'s exceedingly erudite host John Daly summed up nicely: "...he did it in 1936 and rammed each one of them down the throat of Adolf Hitler."

Owens is about 47 here. I got a kick out of seeing him speak and nailing the show's trademark post-game repartee with the panelists. And the suit is pretty sharp too. Almost a quarter century after his victories in Berlin, he was still a pretty big deal.

When Daly references Owens "back home" that, of course, would be Chicago. He moved here in 1949 and remained until his death in 1980. He's buried in a beautiful spot by one of the lakes at Oak Woods Cemetery on the city's South Side.