Back in the 1950s, one of the iconic TV shows was This is Your Life, which surprised guest-subjects on live television, and presented a tribute to them. In the 1980s, host Ralph Edwards brought the show back -- and though I suspect it wasn't done live any more -- it was nonetheless done as much in real time as possible. Beyond that, I don't know much how it was done. No doubt others do.
The show was a bit more special in its initial incarnation -- in part because it was life, and you really didn't know what would happen -- but also TV was newer, so there was more a sense of occasion, I think. But the sequel had its moments, particularly depending on the guest.
This is a very enjoyable and affectionate episode that features Dick Van Dyke. As you can see below, it included Rose-Marie and Morey Amersterdam, of course, and some other fun surprises (that even gets Dick performing a bit). Mary Tyler Moore was unfortunately appearing on Broadway at the time, in the play, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, but she nonetheless makes a lovely appearance live-by-video.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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