Syndicated 1953-54  
 
This is one of the more fascinating and certainly one of the most obscure series on Bill's resume. When we first started this site, we didn't even know it existed.  Then we started learning bits and pieces, mostly three brief mentions of it in major 1953 publications:
    New York Times (June 27): "Mr. Cullen is seen in strategic locations throughout the nation (but excluding New York) on Yes or No, a filmed 15-minute quiz."
    Time Magazine (August 16): "He has a filmed TV question and answer show called Professor Yes 'n' No that is seen in 30 cities."

    TV Guide (November 26):  "Three years ago, though he had tenanted University of Pittsburgh classrooms only briefly, he rented a cap and gown and put a half-hour quiz show, Professor Yes 'n' No, on film.  It was sold to a number of local stations."

No other articles that we've found from that era, including some major profiles of Bill, make mention of this obscurity. Fred Wostbrock had the picture above in his amazing collection, but we still didn't know anything about the show itself.  Since then, we've had the chance to see two episodes.  One 1953 episode exists in the vast television archives of UCLA.  (It seems unlikely that the show dates back to 1950, as the TV Guide article suggests.)  The other is a 16mm film we managed to obtain in the summer of 2007.

Turns out the program isn't, strictly speaking, a game show.  It's a play at home contest in which Bill asks fifteen 'yes' or 'no' questions directly to the camera and home viewers mail answers to their local stations for a chance to win prizes. Actually, Bill only asks thirteen questions.  Question eight is asked by the local station during a commercial break at the midpoint of the fifteen minute program.  Question fifteen is left for the viewer to create himself, and the originality and creativity of a viewer's own yes/no query is used to break ties.

The questions are mostly academic in nature, and they start out fairly easy ("There are 360 degrees in a circle.  Yes or no?") but get progressively more difficult.  Each question is separated by a title card and an unnamed announcer keeping track of the question numbers.  Most questions are augmented with some sort of visual aid, usually Bill drawing something on the blackboard.  The program ends with Bill giving the answers to the questions asked on the last show.

Playing the role of a "professor" as a game show host was nothing new.  Craig Earl was famous as Professor Quiz on the radio, and Kay Kyser had his College of Musical Knowledge.

According to a March, 1953 Variety article, Professor Yes 'n' No was among the first programs distributed by Screen Gems when they entered the syndication business.  Interestingly, that article also mentions that the series was originally seen locally on the Dumont affiliate in Philadelphia and that twenty-six episodes had been produced "so far".  We have confirmed three markets in which the series aired: KGO-TV, the ABC station in San Francisco; KGNC-TV (now KAMR-TV), the NBC affiliate in Amarillo, Texas; and KOPO-TV (now KOLD-TV), the CBS affiliate in Tucson, Arizona.  The series was airing into May of 1954.

     
VIDEO    
Two episodes are known to survive, the one at UCLA and our own 16mm film, which is labeled as being episode eleven of the "first series".  Pretty sure there was just the one series of 26 episodes.
   
Watch our copy of episode 11:  
    
FOR MORE INFORMATION
 
The Professor Yes 'n' No page at Adam Nedeff's Bill Cullen's World