First episode: July 6, 1953
    Bill's first episode: September 2, 1954
    Bill's last episode: March 24, 1955
Bill's show seen Thursdays at 10:30pm on CBS
Last episode: Oct 19, 1959
 
Contestants hear a song played by a studio band and attempt to...well...you know...

The first season of Name That Tune aired on NBC, with Red Benson as host.  It ended in June, 1954.  The show resumed the following fall on CBS with Bill as host. His version lasted just over six months.  The show returned once again in the fall of 1955 with George DeWitt, and only then did it become a hit.

Fans of the seventies and eighties versions, or younger viewers with no memory of the classic game at all, might be surprised at what a simple contest the original Name That Tune actually was.  Two contestants at a time competed, and after the obligatory interviews with Bill, sat in chairs about twenty feet away from two bells suspended near Bill's podium.  When the band played, the contestants raced across the stage to ring their bells and name the tune.

Bill's announcer and on-stage assistant on the episode that survives at UCLA is none other than announcing legend Johnny Olson.  Though the paths of these two game show legends crossed many times in their long careers, they actually worked together quite rarely.

After four songs of escalating value ($5, $10, $20 and $40), the player with the most money won the game and faced a "Golden Medley" of songs submitted by a home viewer.  The player won $25 for correctly identifying the first tune in the medley, then doubled her winnings for each one after that up to $1600 for seven right answers, all within a thirty second time limit.  It all moved very quickly.  In the surviving episode at UCLA, they played three full games in the half hour.


Read a Variety review from September 8, 1954

Unlike George DeWitt, Bill was not much of a singer.  "I've got five good notes," he once admitted, "but I can't get above middle C."  Vocal chores on the show were handled by Vicki Mills, who sometimes confused contestants by singing familiar songs in exotic foreign languages.

Name That Tune was a replacement for another of Bill's shows, Place the Face.  Two weeks later, Place the Face returned to television on a new day, time and network, and Bill hosted both series.

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Two of Bill's episode are available for viewing in the two major archives for such things.  We've seen the March 10, 1955 episode, which is part of the vast television holdings at UCLA.  In addition, the October 14, 1954 episode exists at The Paley Center (formerly the Museum of Television and Radio) in New York.  Neither are available to collectors. Hardly any episodes of the better-known George DeWitt version exist either, for that matter.