|WINNER TAKE ALL
Entire series run:
June 3, 1946 to February 1, 1952 (Various times)
Bill's episodes as host:
September 9, 1946 to at least July 24, 1950
Contrary to several
was not the first host of this series. It was, however, the first
series he hosted. Ward Wilson was the original host, and Bill was
the show's announcer. When Wilson had to step down a few months
the show's run, Bill was made a temporary master of ceremonies.
did so well the job was made permanent, and he was on his way to a
of hosting games. He later relinquished hosting duties for this
to Bud Collyer. At least three episodes survive, all hosted by
Bill would later host the television version of Winner
ME IF YOU CAN
May 9 to June 13, 1948 on CBS
Sundays at 9pm
On Catch Me If You Can,
of a ladder. A
contestant, the "challenger", could eliminate the climber by
his answer and providing the correct one. The challenger then
the climber, and a new challenger was introduced. Any player who
reached the top rung of the ladder reached the Golden Door and the
to unravel a mystery sentence for a merchandise jackpot.
When Chrysler's DeSoto became sponsor of the show, the title, time slot and rules were all changed, making Bill just about the only constant (see Hit the Jackpot).
June 29, 1948 to December 27, 1949
Tuesdays at 9:30pm [later moved to 10pm]
Also May 28 to September 3, 1950
Sundays at 7:30pm, summer replacement for Amos 'n' Andy
This show was originally known as Catch Me If You Can, and had different rules. When Chrysler's DeSoto became sponsor of the show, they changed the title to Hit the Jackpot and changed the format. Listeners who submitted postcards were contacted at random and given a chance to guess a mystery phrase to win a valuable jackpot of prizes. Prizes included trips, furniture and a new DeSoto, and could be worth as much as $25,000, a huge payoff for early radio. Mark Goodson and Bill Todman produced the series.
|BEAT THE CLOCK
January 5 to May 4, 1949
Wednesdays at 10pm
May 9 to September 9, 1949
Daily at 4:05pm (Preceded by five-minute newscast)
Despite the title, and despite the fact that this was a Goodson-Todman production, this quizzer had almost nothing to do with the TV stunt show of the same name. (Seriously, what kind of radio show would THAT have made anyway?) On this, contestants had to answer multi-part questions quickly, before the loudly ticking clock wound down. Despite an eight-month run, few reference books or magazine articles about Bill mention the series. Only one episode (from August 23, 1949) is known to exist.
The format of Bill's 1949
show appears to be very similar to a 1948 Goodson-Todman radio show
called Time's A Wastin'. Bud Collyer, who would go on to
the TV version of Beat the Clock, hosted this earlier series
also featured contestants
questions in a race against the clock. It ran from ran from October 6 to December 29,
which means Bill's new show was effectively its replacement. A
new host and a new title, but more or less the same game. Thanks
to researcher Leah Biel for locking down some of the dates for this
July 16, 1944 to December 17, 1949
Sundays (later Saturdays) on Mutual
December 12, 1949 to June 29, 1951 on ABC (Weekdays at 11:30)
complicated early game show had a long, healthy run. Six
selected from the studio audience competed. The game was played
six rounds, dubbed "races" and given names associated with popular
(i.e. "The Belmont") Contestants heard clues to a topic and
their buzzers to stop the clues and attempt to answer. (The flashing
also associated with the buzzers were lost on the radio
A wrong answer eliminated a player from that "race" and the clues
for the remaining players. Clues were sometimes simply read by
host (originally Ken Roberts, replaced in 1947 by Win Elliot).
though, Ray Bloch's orchestra performed musical clues, and once in each
show (during the fifth "race") a fully dramatized short mystery play
the clues. These plays featured stars of popular detective
performing as their well known characters.
The tiny newsmagazine Quick
published a weekly news quiz called Quick as a Flash.
unknown how much the two had in common, though the magazine quiz page
mention the date and time of the radio show. Even in the era of
money radio jackpots running into the tens of thousands of dollars, Quick
Flash was always played for meager prizes, relying on the musical
and dramatic entertainment for its popularity.
Parts of two Quick As
episodes survive today. One is a ten minute excerpt from a 1948
hosted by Ken Roberts. The other is the first fifteen minutes of
one of Bill's episodes from May 23, 1951. Both feature Bret
as The Shadow.
Bill also hosted the 1953 pilot for the streamlined television version of this series, but did not host the brief series that followed. His pilot episode survives today (with guest stars Boris Karloff and Wendy Barrie) but the series itself appears to be lost.
|STRIKE IT RICH
CBS 1947-50, NBC 1950-57
Bill's episodes probably c1951
Strike It Rich was
success on radio and television. Described as a charity show
as a quiz, it featured downtrodden contestants answering a series of
for a cash payoff, or for a much needed prize. Even if the
failed, donations were called in on the "heartline", making sure no one
went home broke.
Warren Hull is the host most closely associated with both the radio and television versions. He took over the radio show in 1948, and is the only regular host reference books list from that point on. Still, a July 4, 1951 Variety article names this program as one of Bill's credits at the time. Our best guess is that Bill filled in for a while around the time Hull was preparing to take the show to television (the TV debut was May, 1951). Hull used many guest hosts on the TV version (maybe even Bill?) so turning over the radio reins wouldn't have been out of character.
CBS, September 27, 1952 - December 26, 1953, Saturdays 1pm
(From March 6 to May 29, the program was ALSO heard on ABC Friday nights at 8:30pm.)
Bill and Arlene Francis were co-hosts for this game show with variety elements. Phil Chavin, a fan in Sweden who gave us the dates above, is very eager to hear from anyone with more details about the show (as are we, of course). He's trying to confirm a memory he has that Bill and Arlene sang Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better) on every broadcast, possibly as an opening number or perhaps introducing some battle-of-the-sexes competition. That would be interesting, since Bill rarely did any singing, even when hosting music games. Sponsors included Toni, Prom and White Rain (all products of Gillette).
As a summer replacement for The Bob Hawk Show (CBS Mondays at 10pm):
June 2-August 1952, July-September 1953
As a separate NBC series (Wednesday nights):
October 1952-June 1953, October 7, 1953-June 1954, Fall 1954-Early 1955 (8:30pm)
[The series was not heard at all in the summer of 1954.]
Bill's first episode: April 8, 1953
Walk A Mile began life as a summer repacement for The Bob Hawk Show, another quizzer also sponsored by Camel Cigarettes. Hawk's show dated all the way back to 1942, when it was called Thanks to the Yanks and rewarded servicemen. In 1945, the show was renamed for its popular host, and that's when it instituted its popular "Lemac" game. A contestant would be asked five questions in a category, and each answer would begin with one of the letters L-E-M-A-C. ("Camel" backwards, of course.) Anyone who answered all five correctly would be crowned a Lemac, and all Lemacs returned at the end of the show to attempt a difficult five-part final question for a jackpot prize.
The simpler format of Walk A Mile took advantage of the sponsor's famous advertising slogan, "I'd walk a mile for a Camel." Each contestant was asked four questions, every question representing a quarter-mile advance. If the contestant answered all four questions correctly, he "walked" the full mile and won $250. A jackpot question at the end paid $500, and the money in the jackpot carried over to the following week if the question went unanswered.
The unusual scheduling of
A Mile had it bouncing between the CBS and NBC networks, and over
two and a half year run it had three hosts. Win Elliot hosted the
first summer season in 1952. When the show resurfaced on NBC that
fall, John Henry Faulk was the host. Bill replaced Faulk on April
8, 1953 and stayed with the show until the end of its run. During
its summer run on CBS in 1953, some sources even referred to the series
as The Bill Cullen Show. Bob Hawk did not return in the
of 1953, but Walk A Mile moved back to NBC anyway, where it
for another year or so.
No complete episodes of Walk A Mile are known to exist, and only one episode of The Bob Hawk Show survives. However, from Bill's personal archive, we have a recording of what appears to be outtakes from the personal interviews that made up the majority of the show. (Like a lot of comedy game shows of the time, Bill's program was recorded in advance and edited down to a half-hour show.) This recording does not include any gameplay, but does feature the show's opening.
Hear the opening
Hear Bill chat with a contestant
|STOP THE MUSIC
March 21, 1948 to August 10, 1952
Sundays on ABC
August 10, 1954 to Feb 15, 1955
Tuesdays on CBS
original version of this series, hosted by Bert Parks, was a huge hit
around a simple idea. As the orchestra played, phone calls were
at random to anyone in the country. Listeners who answered their
phones and named the familiar song being played won a small prize and
chance to identify a more difficult tune for an ever-increasing jackpot
that could reach $30,000. Bill's 1954 revival was similar, but
Vocalists Jill Corey and
provided the music for Bill's version, along with Ray Bloch and his
Guest performers included Richard Hayman, The Mills Brothers and even
Berlin, who made a surprise appearance in one episode and actually
Legendary CBS announcer Bern Bennett was the show's voice and the man
actually shouted "Stop the Music!" when a lucky audience member was
Happy Felton replaced
Bill at some
point in the series' brief revival. (Bill was featured at least
October 19, and perhaps much later.) The series was originally an
hour long, but eventually expanded to the odd length of 75
At least five episodes of Bill's series survive today, even more than
better-known Bert Parks original.
Second Chance was an early quiz program hosted by veteran game show announcer Johnny Olson. The Library of Congress lists among their holdings one 15-minute episode of this quiz show hosted by Bill, heard on NBC at 11:45am on Friday, January 7, 1955. We have fifteen episodes of the series, some from before and some from after that date, all of them hosted by Olson. This would indicate that the one episode the Library of Congress holds is one in which Bill substituted for Olson. Another possibility is that the Library of Congress info is wrong.