The Game Show Congress has established two annual awards to recognize legends in the world of game shows. One of those is the Bill Cullen Career Achievement Award, which was given to Bill posthumously at the Congress' annual meeting in Burbank in the summer of 2004. Legends such as Dick Clark, Bob Barker, Jayne Meadows, Tom Kennedy, Betty White and more paid tribute to Bill and to Truth or Consequences creator Ralph Edwards, for whom a Community Service award was named. Ann Cullen accepted the inaugural Cullen Award on her late husband's behalf. The awards have been presented annually (except 2008) ever since.
It Happened To Jane (1959)
Doris Day starred in this comic trifle as Jane Osgood, a small-town lobster farmer at odds with a greedy and unscrupulous railroad owner played by Ernie Kovacs. Jack Lemmon is her lawyer and love interest. As the plucky but overmatched Jane continues her fight against big business, her story gets national attention. This leads to a trip to New York City and television appearances. That's where Bill comes in.
Garry Moore, Bill and the rest of the I've Got A Secret panel (at the time, Jayne Meadows, Henry Morgan and Betsy Palmer) play themselves for a scene in which the lobster lady is a contestant on their show. The scene is only a couple of minutes long, and cuts back and forth between the studio and Kovacs watching the live program in his office. The scene isn't particularly significant in the film, but for game show collectors, it is interesting as the only surviving film of the IGAS set and cast in color. The kinescopes that preserved the actual series were all black and white.
In the 1959 paperback novelization, called That Jane From Maine, Jane is a contestant on What's My Line? instead. (A Mystery Guest, no less, which wouldn't have happened in real life no matter how much attention her story had received.) There is only a passing reference to Garry Moore and Bill Cullen in this print version. Still, photos of Bill, Garry Moore and Dave Garroway (another cameo in the film) appear on the back cover of the paperback adaptation.
Game show fans
will also get a kick out of a brief, funny and
unbilled appearance by Gene Rayburn as a reporter.
According to Leonard Maltin, the movie was also
known as Twinkle and Shine. It was
released on DVD in 2004.
Bill Cullen's Minstrel Spectacular
Bill narrates and introduces the acts in this musical history of the uniquely American (and today, vaguely offensive) form of entertainment. The album attempts to be a definitive history of the minstrel show. It features detailed liner notes as well as musical selections ranging from still-familiar Stephen Foster standards to forgotten turn-of-the-century songs such as Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown and Oh, Didn't He Ramble.
There are banjos, steamboat chimes, spoons, even a soft-shoe routine. Still, it's all pretty sanitized and unimaginative, with the tunes supplied by a generic group of studio musicians called The Endmen. This was likely as much of a goofy novelty record when it came out in the late fifties as it is today. Despite that great tuxedo, BIll does no performing himself.
OK, so he's no Tiger Woods. Still, for nine years he hosted a show that was all about merchandise. It's not surprising that he'd plug products now and then. Here are some examples of Bill in print ad campaigns, many of which were specifically based on his relationship to The Price Is Right:
$100,000 Star Sweepstakes
A brief ad campaign that ran in a number of 1959 magazines. The full-page color ad on the left appeared in the July, 1959 issues of Family Circle and Women's Day. The full-page ad on the right appeared in the May and June issues of Farm Journal.
Grocery chains (including Safeway and Food Fair) ran this sweepstakes contest in 1963. If you collected four cards that had Bill saying each of the words in The Price Is Right, you won $100. If the number on your card matched the amount won by the champion on that week's primetime episode, you won a jackpot prize. Smaller food prizes were also available. The front and the back of one card is shown below.
|BILL's WALL OF FAME
Beginning in the 1920s, the original Palm Restaurant on Second Avenue in New York City was a hangout for cartoonists and comic strip artists, many of whom worked nearby at the King Features Syndicate offices. Those artists started a tradition of decorating the walls of the restaurant with drawings of their own famous characters, as well as caricatures of the restaurant's regular patrons. In August, 1966, Bill got his turn. McGowan "Mac" Miller, the restaurant's resident cartoonist for more than twenty years, drew Bill's portrait.
Bill's likeness is prominently on display in the back room of the restaurant's second floor. He is surrounded by title cards for many of his popular radio and TV series to date, including the then-current Eye Guess. In fact, the words "Eye" and "Guess" appear in his signature glasses. Interestingly, the titles surrounding him include Quick On the Draw, an early TV show that featured a celebrity panel identifying drawings by cartoonist Bob Dunn. We've never found any evidence that Bill participated in that series, which started as a local NYC show and appeared on the old Dumont network in 1952. We may have yet another show to add to our man's credits.
Bill 2000: As a promotional event in the year 2000, cable network TV Land came up with a list of the 2000 Best Things About Television, Bill ranked 1181st, just ahead of Diff'rent Strokes, Ellery Queen and Bob Uecker. The Price Is Right ranked 954th. (They probably meant Barker's version, but still...) Pyramid (specifically the $20,000 version) came in at 1394. I've Got A Secret didn't make the list.
Bill 2000, Part Two: In interviews (and on a Behind the Scenes special), Regis Philbin says that Bill was on producer Michael Davies' list of potential hosts for Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, despite having been dead for eight years.
Bill 2000, Part Three: Bill is the correct answer to a trivia question on the 2001 Activision CD-ROM version of The Weakest Link. Thing is, they misspell his name!
Chef Bill: Bill frequently contributed recipes for celebrity cookbooks. His stuffed cabbage recipe appears in a 1966 charity cookbook called Happiness is More Recipes for Barney Children's Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio. A recipe for cheese souffle appears in Johna Blinn's 1981 collection called, simply, Celebrity Cookbook.
Jigsaw Bill: Synthetics maker Chemstrand sponsored an unusual promotion for the start of the 1966 season on CBS: A jigsaw puzzle with pictures of many of the network's top stars. The puzzle included a picture of the I've Got A Secret cast.
Corny Bill: We're guessing there aren't a lot of game show hosts, and few TV personalities of any sort, who have had their portrait done in crop seeds. Bill has.