If you wanted to sell a proposed new game show to the networks, what better way to give it some instant credibility than to have Bill involved?  From the beginning of his career Bill hosted or guested on a variety of pilots.  In addition to pilots, Bill also participated in informal run-throughs for network executives interested in buying a new game.  In that role, he helped sell The $10,000 Pyramid to CBS originally.

This list includes includes not only shows that didn't sell, but also some others that made it to the air without Bill.  Any information we may have on pilots for successful Bill Cullen shows would be located on the pages devoted to those shows.

Listed chronologically, although given the nature of pilots, some of the dates are guesses.
 
QUICK AS A FLASH (1952)        
Quick as a Flash was a long-running radio series that Bill hosted, so it was logical to find him hosting this television pilot.  Celebrities (Boris Karloff and Wendy Barrie in the pilot) were paired with contestants and together, they tried to come up with answers to questions based on skits, mostly on film but sometimes live in the studio.  As the title might suggest, speed was a factor in answering the questions.  Even though this pilot was made for NBC, the series did have two brief runs on ABC in 1953 and 1954.  Bill did not host either one of them.  This pilot is traded among collectors.


MORE INFORMATION at Mike Burger's Game Show Pilot Light and Adam Nedeff's Bill Cullen's World
A VERY SPECIAL EVENING (November 22, 1961)        
The only non-game pilot on this page, this show would have had Bill welcoming viewers to a musical performance on location in nightclubs across the country.   For the pilot, Paul Anka performed at the Copacabana in New York following his appearance earlier that evening on the Eydie Gorme-Steve Lawrence television show.  (The Steve & Eydie program aired on the 21st, and this pilot filmed in the wee hours of the following morning.)  Bill introduced the performer and closed the show, but did not interact with Anka.  Celebrities such as Dick Clark, Tommy Sands and Nancy Sinatra were on hand to witness the performance.  The series would have traveled to various nightclubs to capture performers' acts on a live stage rather than a TV studio.

This program combined Bill's talents with those of another individual not known for musical entertainment programming.  The show's producer/director was a young CBS News employee named Don Hewitt.  Hewitt, at the time already an up-and-coming star in the news business, would later achieve his greatest success and fame as the creator and guiding force behind 60 Minutes.

A film of this obscurity does survive.  Unfortunately, we failed to win a 16mm print of the program when it turned up on an Ebay auction, but that listing and various vintage newspaper articles provide the details for this description.  The original newspaper articles mentioned other possible titles for the show, such as A Date with Bill Cullen and Eyewitness to Entertainment

THE FACE IS FAMILIAR (1966)        
Jack Clark hosted this Bob Stewart pilot, with Bill and Betsy Palmer serving as the celebrity panelists.  When the show made it to the CBS prime time line-up, CBS sportscaster Jack Whitaker was the host and Jack Clark became the announcer.  As in the series which aired, the object for the celebrities and their contestant partners was to unscramble strips of a photograph and recognize the famous subject.  Bill did not appear in the few weeks this series was on the air. 


CELEBRITY DOUBLETALK (1967) 
Another Bob Stewart pilot hosted by Jack Clark, a copy of this program exists in the UCLA archives.  Bill was a celebrity panelist for this show, teamed with Betsy Palmer against a team led by Florence Henderson and Darren McGavin. A team (two celebs and a contestant) saw a category ("Things said by a bride on her wedding night") and each gave a clue to the opposing team.  The object, however, was to keep their opponents from guessing the category.

This is the earliest reference to the things-in-a-category theme that Stewart would perfect with Pyramid and use in various permutations for the rest of his career. The ideas that would become Pyramid were all there, but this early format had enormous flaws in the game structure (the object was to give bad clues, for example) and was played mainly for laughs.
    
MORE INFORMATION at Mike Burger's Game Show Pilot Light

PERSONALITY (1967) 
We believe Bill participated in the pilot which sold this 1967-69 Bob Stewart series.  TV researcher Brendan McLaughlin has put together a comprehensive list of guest appearances during the regular run of the series, and none of them match the photo we have for the show.  Given that Bill participated in so many Bob Stewart pilots and given that publicity photos for a new series often come from the pilot episode, we're willing to bet that the photo (which also includes host Larry Blyden and panelists Joan Fontaine and Milt Kamen) is from the pilot. 
THE CHOICE IS YOURS (November 28, 1970)     
This was a Hatos-Hall production (the folks that gave us Let's Make A Deal).  The studio audience and a celebrity panel (Melvin Belli, Meredith MacRae and Nipsey Russell) were presented with a series of hypothetical questions (some asked by Bill, some presented in badly acted skits) and given a choice of possible responses.  In one skit, for example, a woman had the chance to beat her husband's obnoxious boss at Scrabble with a big play on the last turn. The husband didn't want her to show up his boss.  Should she make the play or abide by her husband's wishes?

Each celebrity offered his or her opinion and then the audience voted.  If a celebrity's choice matched the audience vote, that celebrity earned points.  The winning celebrity at the end of the show won a prize for a designated member of the studio audience.  In the pilot, the celebrities did the best they could to wring entertainment out of a dull and rather pointless game (what's with the political motif?) but it's easy to see why this didn't get picked up by the network.

A copy of this pilot exists in the vast television collection at UCLA.  The listing summarizes the program as a "game show that measures public opinions on current issues."  The show certainly was current; one question asked whether a father had the right to forbid his teenage daughter to attend a peace rally.  The UCLA listing also provides the exact taping date.
   
MORE INFORMATION at Mike Burger's Game Show Pilot Light and Adam Nedeff's Bill Cullen's World

SAYS WHO? (May 28, 1971)    
This unsold Bob Stewart pilot surfaced on a Game Show Network marathon.  Geoff Edwards hosted, and teams consisted of one contestant and two celebrities (Bill, Peter Lawford, Betsy Palmer and Anne Meara in the pilot).  A celebrity gives a response to a revealing question, and the object for the other two teammates was to guess whether he responded as himself or as he thought one of the other celebs would.  Numbingly mindless, especially since only Bill and Betsy knew each other well, and celebrities virtually always just answered as themselves anyway.



MORE INFORMATION at Mike Burger's Game Show Pilot Light 
CAUGHT IN THE ACT (November 10, 1975)         
This was yet another attempt by Bob Stewart to expand upon the items-in-a-list formula that had worked for him so well with The $25,000 Pyramid.  In this game, two contestants faced a panel of five celebrities (Bill, Anne Meara, Anita Gillette, Clifton Davis and Stephanie Braxton).  The celebrities received a category ("Things That Bite") and, in turn, gave a clue that fit the category.  Contestants tried to figure out the category from the clues.
  
It was an effort to merge two popular formats of the day: the Pyramid guessing game with the celebrity interaction of Match Game.  The five celebrities even sat Match Game-style on a two tiered panel. (The photo shown here is from the bonus round.)  However, aside from Bill, these celebrities were not exactly known for their witty wordplay, and the Pyramid game without a clock proved unexciting.  Jim Peck was at the helm, a deservedly well respected host of the seventies who was out of his element hosting a celebrity driven game.

A few years later, Jack Clark hosted another Stewart pilot called Caught In The Act that bore no resemblance to this one.


MORE INFORMATION at Adam Nedeff's Bill Cullen's World

SHOOT THE WORKS (1976)   
This was one of at least two pilots Bob Stewart shot for the series that would become Shoot for the Stars.  This pilot aired as part of a Game Show Network marathon.  Geoff Edwards was host (he would eventually host the series), Stewart favorites Bill and Anita Gillette were the celebrity players.  Anne Meara and Rick Hurst were featured in another pilot also hosted by Edwards.  Bill made several visits to Shoot for the Stars as a celeb player.  Those are listed on our Guest Appearances page.

In the Meara-Hurst pilot, traded among collectors, one of the contestants is a young actor named David Michaels.  Bob Stewart was so impressed with Michaels that he hired the young man, and Michaels became Geoff Edwards' personal assistant for this brief series.  After that, he went on to produce various incarnations of Pyramid for Bob Stewart throughout the eighties.
Shoot the Works
                              Pilot
MORE INFORMATION at Mike Burger's Game Show Pilot Light 

EQUAL PARTNERS (August 3, 1976)      
No less an authority than the show's creator, Mark Maxwell-Smith, explained this game to Adam Nedeff during Adam's research on his Cullen biography (see the home page).  In each round of this question and answer game, a couple would receive a category for which there were two questions, an easy one and a hard one.  Initially, the husband would decide which spouse would answer which question.  Later, the wife would be responsible for that decision.  That process would continue through multiple rounds.  The pilot was a Ralph Edwards production. Note Bill getting down with those open collars!
FANTASIES FULFILLED (April 27, 1979)  
Here's another pilot for which we have very little information.  A ticket for the show gives us the date, as well as the facts that it was from Stu Billett Productions, it taped at the NBC studios in Burbank, and it featured a celebrity panel.  In his research on Bill's bio, Adam Nedeff was able to see some photos from this pilot and tells us it was a competition between two married couples.  He also notes that one of the contestants was Doug Llewellyn, who would later host the original version of The People's Court (which was also produced by Stu Billett).
PUNCH LINES (December 30, 1979)     
This Bob Stewart production, an updated version of Eye Guess, was pitched to local stations by syndicator Metromedia in 1980 but failed to sell.  In the game, eight comic performers (including a then-unknown Edie McClurg) held "punch lines" which would complete statements Bill would read to the two celebrity-contestant teams.  As with Eye Guess, the object was to remember where the correct punch line was located. The humor came out of the comically mismatched answers, as well as the over-the-top line readings given by the performers.  Celebrities Joyce Bullifant and Fred Grandy, along with their playing partners, are not pictured.

While the game failed to sell in America, it turned up a few years later in the UK, where game shows are much more common and have an easier time finding an audience.  See the listing at the UK Game Show Page for more information about how the game was played.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS (1980?)  
Bill hosted this unsold guessing game pilot from Barry-Enright.  The celebrity players in one pilot were David Letterman and Joyce Bullifant.  Arte Johnson and Liz Torres handled the celeb chores in another pilot.  The game was a tepid variation on Family Feud.  For each round, six items were revealed, along with a question requiring them to be ordered in a list.  For example, one question involved animals to be put in order by the lengths of their gestation periods.  One member of a celebrity-contestant team would choose two of the items, and the other member had to determine which one ranked higher on the list than the other.  As confusing as it was dull.  The Letterman-Bullifant pilot is available among game show traders, in pretty ragged shape.


MORE INFORMATION at Mike Burger's Game Show Pilot Light and Adam Nedeff's Bill Cullen's World
STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL (November 8, 1980) 
Another Bob Stewart pilot featuring Bill as a panelist.  Dick Clark hosted this all-star variation on To Tell The Truth.  Two teams of four competed, each with three celebrities and a contestant.  Bill's celebrity teammates on the pilot were Robert Mandan and Elaine Joyce.  The other celebrity team consisted of Soupy Sales, Betty White and ventriloquist Jay Johnson.

Clark read a question about a famous personality, and the celebrities of one team each offered their responses. (For example, "When Sylvester Stallone and his wife discussed having a child, they made very specific arrangements for conceiving a child.  What were they?") Only one story was true, of course, and it was up to the other team to figure out which one it was.  A bonus round featured the celebrities answering general knowledge questions to reveal portions of a celebrity photo the contestant had to identify.

MORE INFORMATION at Mike Burger's Game Show Pilot Light