Paige writes about the legacy of great American game show host Bill Cullen.
In the world of game shows, few names are as renowned to fans as Bill Cullen. Known as “the dean” of game shows, Bill Cullen hosted a combined 40 shows on both Radio and Television. In a career spanning 4 decades, Bill is unmatched and has a legacy that may never be replicated. Why? In this article, we will look at Bill’s legacy, and why it is so remembered.
No host can ever be as versatile as Bill was. While most of his shows were short-lived with some barely lasting a year, there was never a year he was out of work until his retirement. With every show being unique in the way it worked, Bill knew how to adjust himself to the show while keeping all involved parties the star of the show. As some of these shows ran concurrently, it definitely made things more challenging, but Bill could do the outstanding job that we all know him for.
Bill was an inspiration and respected by many other hosts who followed him. Dick Clark once said in an interview that whenever he was hosting Pyramid where Bill was a guest, that he felt intimidated because of how good he was at hosting the game. When asked, “Who was his favorite game show host?”, Wink Martindale easily picked Bill Cullen without a question or a second thought.
Bill hosted more shows than any other emcee and could turn a lacklustre show into something decent. Shows such as Winning Streak and Blankety Blanks, format-wise, left a little more to be desired, but they improved drastically with Bill at the helm. Bill also had very underestimated shows, such as Child’s Play, Blockbusters, and Hot Potato. He also filled in for great hosts such as Allen Ludden & Garry Moore on Password Plus & To Tell The Truth. Like I’ve said before, Bill has done almost any style of game show you could imagine and for each one he was an asset to the show.
When Bill retired after not enough stations picked up The Jokers Wild in 1986 for the 86-87 season, little did we know it was the beginning of the end of an era. As game shows, while still very prominent in America, were waning. When Bill left, he left at a time where game shows had already peaked and were in decline in favor of other programming. Bill was a jack of all trades in the industry and is missed by all game show fans. Game shows weren’t the same as one of the finest left. Bill’s contributions to the game show world are immeasurable and still felt to this day.