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Creator / Bill Cullen

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William Lawrence Francis Cullen (February 18, 1920 – July 7, 1990) was a legendary Game Show host who appeared on more games than anyone else in American television, and whose career spanned across many shows on radio and television from The '30s to The '80s (including his own 15-minute Thursday-morning variety show, The Bill Cullen Show, on CBS in 1952). He died in 1990 from lung cancer, and is often called "The King of Game Shows" or "The Dean of Emcees".

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bill suffered from polio as a child and was badly injured in a 1937 motorcycle accident; as a result, he had great difficulty walking for the rest of his life. Mel Brooks has mentioned on multiple occasions (including a late-2012 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!) that the time he imitated Cullen's jerky walk after an appearance on Eye Guess, without knowing he was legitimately injured, was the most mortifying moment of his life. Bill graciously took it in good humor, however, and in fact told Brooks that he was actually very grateful for the mimicry as up until then, he felt that others were being too pitying of him.

On-air, Cullen's limited mobility was largely obscured by the design of his shows' sets, which tended to have him stay behind a podium with as little movement as possible, and strategic directing and editing. (Similar accommodations were made for him on shows where he appeared as a panel member.)

During a 2007 countdown of the "Top Ten Hosts" by GSN, Bill was listed as #7 despite the narration and commentators all but outright saying he deserved top prize. Still, it was better than a 2007 WNBC slideshow of the top twenty game show emcees that managed to omit Bill entirely (much to the chagrin of the station's then-chief anchorman Chuck Scarborough, who shares a birthplace with Bill), a 2007 A&E Biography on the genre that somehow managed to avoid mentioning Bill at all over its two-hour runtime (which along with the total omission of Allen Ludden had drawn ire from game show fans as well as Peter Marshall), and a 2013 WatchMojo "Top Ten Hosts" video that relegated Bill to an uncredited clip at the very end, after the main list and honorable mentions.

Not to be mistaken for Peter Cullen (who has a very different fandom), a family of vampires, or any of the many other people who are also named "Bill Cullen".

Game Shows hosted by Bill:

    open/close all folders 

    Radio Series 
  • Winner Take All (1946-50)
  • Catch Me If You Can (1948)
  • Hit the Jackpot (1948-49, 1950)
  • Beat the Clock (1949; quiz show unrelated to the stunt show)
  • Quick As A Flash (1949-51)
  • Fun For All (1952-53; co-hosted with Arlene Francis)
  • Walk A Mile (1953-55)
  • Stop the Music (1954)

    TV Series 

    Unsold Pilots 
  • Quick As A Flash (1952; taped for NBC, but went to air without Bill on ABC)
  • The Choice Is Yours (November 28, 1970; Bill's only show for Hatos-Hall)
  • Equal Partners (August 3, 1976)
  • How Do You Like Your Eggs? (March 23-24 and 30-31, 1977; four pilots aired to promote the interactive Warner QUBE system)
  • Fantasies Fulfilled (April 27, 1979; produced by Stu Billett, who went on to co-executive produce The People's Court, and one of the players on this pilot was Doug Llewellyn)
  • Decisions Decisions (1979; two pilots, one of which featured David Letterman)
  • Punchlines (December 30, 1979; revival of Eye Guess)
  • Also appeared as a celebrity panelist on many, many pilots produced by his good friend Bob Stewart.

Tropes invoked by Bill:

  • Closest Thing We Got: How he became the host of Hot Potato. The host brought in for an early run-through of the game did a terrible job, and Bill wound up with the gig after neither NBC nor Barry & Enright (the show's production company) could think of anyone else to ask. He said in one interview that this was how he got many of his game show hosting jobs.
  • Game Show Appearance: Surprisingly, never with one of his legit shows.
    • 1975 or 1976: "The Bottom Line", a film produced for Mobil.
    • March 8, 1978: An appearance on Captain Kangaroo as host of "The Baking Game", where Bunny Rabbit appeared. Bill then visited the Clubhouse.
  • Urban Legends:
    • According to the reference book Total Television, Bill replaced Dennis James as host of the syndicated game PDQ (1965-69) later in its run. No other reference book supports this, and the existence of an episode taped October 3, 1968 with James as host (held by UCLA) has effectively (though not definitively) ruled this false. While it is possible that Bill filled in at some point, there is no evidence for this either.
    • Contrary to once-popular belief, talks with Bill to do The New Price Is Right did not fall through due to the revamped set requiring more mobility (indeed, the set was arguably one of the last things to be worked out). At the time, Bill was helming Three On A Match, being a panelist on To Tell The Truth, hosting segments on NBC Radio's Monitor, and doing commercials for a chain of department stores in the northeast. Given that Price was going to be done in Los Angeles whereas Bill was firmly rooted in New York, his salary for doing 39 episodes of Price (there was no network version planned at the time) would've had to sufficiently replace the four paychecks he was already getting, and so he opted not to take the risk.