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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 Thirties to The Eighties (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".
He suffered from polio as a child and, for the vast majority of his life, he walked with a limp because of that; Mel Brooks once said that the time that 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. Cullen took it in good humor, though, and in fact, actually told Brooks that he was very grateful for his mimicry, as up until that point, Cullen felt that other people were being too pitying of him. This is why many of Bill's shows had him behind a podium or somesuch, but not why he wasn't chosen when The Price Is Right was revived in 1972 (Cullen was in negotiations, but this fell through and Dennis James was chosen instead; note that this was six months before most of the details were ironed out).
During a 2007 countdown of the "Top Ten Hosts" by GSN, Bill was listed as #7 despite the narration and commentators essentially saying he deserved top prize. Still, it was better than a subsequent list by WNBC of the top twenty game show emcees that managed to omit Cullen entirely (much to the chagrin of WNBC lead anchorman Chuck Scarborough, who shares a birthplace with Cullen).
Game Shows hosted by Bill:
- Winner Take All (1946-50 on radio; hosted a brief TV run in 1952)
- 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)
- Meet Your Match (1949; local WOR series that was canned after two episodes)
- I've Got a Secret (1952-67 as regular panelist and occasional host; also helmed a brief 1976 version)
- Professor Yes 'n' No (1953-54)
- Place The Face (1954-55)
- Bank On The Stars (1954)
- Name That Tune (1954-55)
- Down You Go (1956)
- The Price Is Right (1956-65)
- Eye Guess (1966-69)
- To Tell the Truth (1969-78 as regular panelist and occasional host)
- Three On a Match (1971-74)
- Winning Streak (1974-75)
- The $25,000 Pyramid (1974-79)
- Blankety Blanks (1975)
- Pass The Buck (1978)
- The Love Experts (1978-79)
- Chain Reaction (1980)
- Password Plus (1980; hosted four weeks as a fill-in for Allen Ludden)
- Blockbusters (1980-82)
- Childs Play (1982-83)
- Hot Potato (1984)
- The Jokers Wild (1984-86)
- 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 23-31, 1977; four pilots aired to promote the interactive Warner QUBE system)
- Decisions Decisions (1979; two pilots, one of which featured David Letterman)
- Punchlines (December 30, 1979; revival of Eye Guess)
Tropes invoked by Bill:
- Adorkable: Bill's early work, in the "just so darn sweet" mold.
- Deadpan Snarker: More often directed towards himself and whatever show he was hosting, but contestants would get their share as well.
- Game Show Appearance: Surprisingly, never with one of his legit shows.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Bill loved to do this.
- One prize on Price was a breakfront with a built-in stereo, record player, and fold-out bed.
- A famous one from Joe Garagiola's tenure as host of To Tell The Truth (taped May 18, 1977), when Bill explained why he had to disqualify himself during a game with a contestant who trained birds.
Bill: It was an accident. Before the show I walked into the bathroom, and there was [the contestant] with his bird in his hand.
- From the Hot Potato premiere (January 23, 1984), a line mocked by the jerks of GSN's Faux Pause:
Bill: Diane, I couldn't see your nametag there. It was facing away from me for the best reason in the world.
- The Short Guy with Glasses
- Urban Legends: According to 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 effectively ruled this false. Cullen may have filled in, but there is no evidence of this, either.