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Bill Cullen Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (82) | Personal Quotes (8)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 18 February 1920Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Date of Death 7 July 1990Bel Air, California, USA  (lung cancer)
Birth NameWilliam Lawrence Cullen

Mini Bio (1)

Bill Cullen was born on February 18, 1920 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA as William Lawrence Cullen. He was an actor, known for I've Got a Secret (1952), The Price Is Right (1956) and Hot Potato (1984). He was married to Ann Macomber and Carol Ames. He died on July 7, 1990 in Bel Air, California, USA.

Spouse (2)

Ann Macomber (24 December 1955 - 7 July 1990) (his death)
Carol Ames (30 July 1949 - 1955) (divorced)

Trade Mark (3)

Thick, horn-rimmed glasses
His puckish sense of humor and for playing pranks on his fellow announcers.
Occasionally, at the beginning of his shows, he was either seated or stood to his podium.

Trivia (82)

First game show was Winner Take All (1948).
Last game show was The Joker's Wild (1972).
Brother-in-law of Jack Narz and Tom Kennedy.
He was partially crippled by childhood polio.
Son-in-law of film composer Heinz Roemheld.
Has the record for hosting more game shows than any host in history at 24.
Worked as a TV game show host (often working on more than one show at a time), a radio personality and did the play-by-play for various sporting events.
He was an only child.
His father-in-law, Heinz Roemheld, wrote the song "Ruby".
Was considered for the hosting of the revamped version of the long-running game show, The Price Is Right (1972). However, the physical demands of the job would have been too difficult for him given his physical condition at the time, and the job was given to Bob Barker.
Like fellow game show host Peter Tomarken, he had a pilot's license when he was a teenager.
Served in the Civil Air Defense as an instructor and patrol pilot in his native Pennsylvania, although he had been turned down for service in the US military due to his childhood bout of polio.
He had many hobbies: photography, interior decorating, model plane building, painting (water color and oils), magic, music (he tried to learn saxophone and guitar), raising fish, writing plays and poetry. Of all his hobbies, though, his passion was flying.
Was involved in a serious car accident at age 17, which put him in the hospital for nine months.
Was employed at Bob Stewart Productions from 1966-80.
Met future wife Ann Macomber on a blind date arranged by her sister Mary Lou, who was the wife of Jack Narz at that time.
Met Carol Ames when she made a guest appearance on a radio show he announced. They were married in 1949, but divorced in 1955.
Was enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh as a pre-med student. He dropped out of college because of a shortage of funds. He then took on a job as a mechanic at his father's garage and a tow-truck driver before going back to college and graduating with a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts.
Before he was a successful game show host, he worked as an unpaid (later staff) announcer.
At one point he had dropped out of South High School in Philadelphia, PA, during his senior year and raced professionally, but decided to come back, and graduated in 1938.
Was employed by Goodson-Todman Productions (later Mark Goodson Productions) from 1952-83.
In high school he hosted student assemblies, clowned at school spelling bees, organized fund-raising shows and published his own school paper when he disagreed with the policy of the official one.
Lived right next door to Wilt Chamberlain.
At one time was an announcer with Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra.
Co-hosted with ex-I've Got a Secret (1952) panelmate, Betsy Palmer, on 'Ideas for Better Living.'.
Ranked #7 as GSN's Top 10 Game Show Hosts of All Time.
Best remembered by the public as host of the original The Price Is Right (1956), Eye Guess (1966), Three on a Match (1971) and the original Blockbusters (1980).
Served as a teacher in the pilot-training division of the US Air Force.
Spent a number of years attempting various forms of rehabilitation and exercise regimens to reduce the effects of childhood polio, but gave up after doctors determined his leg muscles were too damaged.
Guest-hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) while Johnny Carson took a vacation during his first year on the show.
At one point, he was going to replace Allen Funt as host of Candid Camera (1960), until a sponsor conflict ended those plans.
Had worked with Charlie O'Donnell on two game shows (ironically for Barry & Enright): Hot Potato (1984) and The Joker's Wild (1972).
Upon his death he was cremated and his ashes given to his family.
Had substituted for an ailing Allen Ludden for four weeks on Password Plus (1979).
His favorite game show to date was Child's Play (1982).
Worked with game show announcer Johnny Gilbert on three shows: The Price Is Right (1956), Chain Reaction (1980) and Child's Play (1982).
The Bill Cullen Career Achievement Award was given to him posthumously at the Congress' Annual Meeting in Burbank, CA. [2004]
Ranked #5 on Life's 15 Best Game Show Hosts.
He replaced Jack Barry for the final two seasons of The Joker's Wild (1972) due to Barry's death.
Attended a local broadcasting school called Microphone Playhouse.
Retired at age 66 after his last game show The Joker's Wild (1972).
Long before Anne-Marie Johnson was an actress, she had been a contestant on Cullen's Child's Play (1982).
Was about to replace Allen Ludden as host of Password Plus (1979), but was hosting the original Blockbusters (1980) at the time. Because of the conflict the job was ultimately given to Tom Kennedy (who was his brother-in-law).
Filled in for Garry Moore on To Tell the Truth (1969), especially when Moore was suffering from throat cancer, late in 1976.
His game show Hot Potato (1984) was based on "Decisions, Decisions", a game show that failed to make it on the air.
Beat out Dick Van Dyke for the role as host of The Price Is Right (1956).
Was a stand-up comedian at one point.
On I've Got a Secret (1952), producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman and host Garry Moore quickly learned to never start the questioning with Cullen if the guest's secret was anything sports-related or mechanical, because chances were good that he would guess it immediately.
In his youth he assisted sportscaster Joe Tucker, who called Pittsburgh Steelers games.
He and wife Ann Macomber relocated from New York to Los Angeles in 1978. At the time Cullen, 58, was hosting two shows, The Love Experts (1978) and The $25,000 Pyramid (1974).
Had commuted from New York to Los Angeles every day for a year to host Place the Face (1953).
Was the first game show host ever to have a disability.
In the early 1970s he hosted the weekend radio program "Monitor". Other emcees hosting the show were: Gene Rayburn, Ed McMahon, Monty Hall, Garry Moore and Art Fleming.
Frequently contributed recipes for celebrity cookbooks. His stuffed cabbage recipe appears in a 1966 charity cookbook called "Happiness is More Recipes" for Barney Children's Medical Center in Dayton, OH. A recipe for cheese souffle appears in Johna Blinn's 1981 collection called, simply, "Celebrity Cookbook".
His second wife, Ann Macomber, was an artist.
His physical disabilities were (and largely remain) unknown to the general public due to the creative set design of his shows. The games' structures, props, and any physical movements by contestants were deliberately arranged so that Cullen could, for the most part, remain stationary. Rather than the grand entrance common for game show hosts, Cullen would begin each show either already seated or concealed on set behind a sign or podium so he would have to take only a few steps. Cullen always sat in a chair while hosting, even on shows where the other participants stood. Similar accommodations were made when he served as a celebrity guest on other game shows.
Had no children.
He was known to be a very private man.
Game-show host Bob Barker used to listen to Cullen's radio show when Barker was just an announcer.
Met fellow game show host Geoff Edwards when he was under contract to Bob Stewart Productions in 1971.
His first exposure in the broadcasting industry was performing for a radio audience on "The 1500 Club", an overnight program on tiny WWSW in Pittsburgh, PA.
Survived by his wife of nearly 35 years, Ann Macomber.
Lived in Los Angeles, California, from 1978-90.
His parents were Hazel (Bost) Cullen, and Lawrence T. Cullen.
In 1944, at age 24, he moved to New York City to pursue a career in broadcasting.
His father, Lawrence T. Cullen, passed away, in 1969.
His mother, Hazel Bost Cullen, passed away on March 21, 1959.
Was the first game show host ever to appear on the front cover of "TV Guide"--altogether he was on it seven times.
Was among the last of the popular game show hosts to make the move from New York City to Los Angeles, in part because of his long-time association with producer Bob Stewart, who also resisted relocating to the West Coast. However, by the 1970s both Cullen and Stewart faced reality and joined their colleagues in California.
His father-in-law, Heinz Roemheld, passed away on February 11, 1985. He lived to be 84.
Passed away on July 7, 1990. Just before his death, he was a semi-regular on The $25,000 Pyramid (1974), that was hosted by his longtime friend Dick Clark.
The only game show on which Cullen did not become a celebrity panelist was Body Language (1984), which was hosted by his former brother-in-law Tom Kennedy; the physical demands were too strenuous for him.
Shortly after Eye Guess (1966) ended, Cullen fell seriously ill. Diagnosed with pancreatitis and requiring major surgery, he took time off from work to recuperate. When he returned to television, especially to his position on the panel for To Tell the Truth (1969), his physical appearance had drastically changed; his hair had grown out, and his pancreatitis had caused him to lose over 30 pounds, leaving his face gaunt and wrinkled.
Had six biggest winners in the two years of hosting the original Blockbusters (1980): one was a psychologist who won $120,000 (after $60,000), then a future game show contestant won $65,000 (after $47,000), then a UCLA student won $106,000, in two separate wins, then another contestant won $62,800 (after $50,800), then an author and a single aunt won $66,500 (after $60,000) and a former professional baseball player won was $51,700 ($46,700 in her ten matches). She only played one game in her return, due to the fact it was the final episode. She got $5,000 for winning it.
Was a Republican.
Met fellow game show host Gene Rayburn while the two were under contract with Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions (later Mark Goodson Productions) in 1953. The two became friends until Cullen's death in 1990.
Was the last-minute replacement as host of Hot Potato (1984), after it became apparent that the original host wasn't going to work out.
Was a heavy smoker for most of his life. He died of lung cancer.
Began hosting game shows at age 26, making him one of the youngest emcees. Ryan Seacrest and J.D. Roth both started hosting game shows at age 20 and Bob Eubanks first hosted game shows at 28.
Met Mark Goodson and Bill Todman while writing for the radio comedy series "Easy Aces".
He was the first game show host to appear on all three networks at the same time in the 1960s. This was more than 30 years before Alex Trebek did the same.

Personal Quotes (8)

I often ask myself, 'How am I working?' I'm certainly not the guy who appeals to women between the ages of 18 and 35.
[about not being allowed to wear a brace in school sports] I did fine on the back lot. Maybe I ran a lot slower, but I hit the ball a lot harder.
[in 1957 about his limp] Like thousands of other youngsters, I was stricken with polio as a child. Even with the wonderful care I received from my parents and doctors, I still carry the scars of this experience. Somehow, it never got me down. That's why I would rather not have people who see me limp along show any pity, distress or compassion--since I don't feel this way about my physical condition.
[in 1988 about game shows] I don't enjoy television as much as I used to. It's not as much fun. There's a lot of greed today, it seems. A lot of business administration aspirants coming along. They used to play it for fun, to get on the air and have their friends see them. You'd give them a thousand dollars and you made their year. Now, unless it's twenty or thirty thousand dollars, they look at you like you suckered them into a deal that really didn't turn out as well as they perhaps had hoped.
Two reasons, money and exposure. [Also,] it's no strain...shows of the type I do don't require a lot of rehearsal and preparation.
[Who had the hiccups when taping five To Tell the Truth (1969) programs in 1 day]: When the shows ran through a week, people thought I had hiccupped an entire week, and were sorry for me! More than 5000 letters came in offering sympathy and remedies, and I was very touched.
[For being the 1st game show host on the air, in live programming that he had to sleep during shifts]: I'm the only person I know who gets out of bed twelve times a week instead of seven.
[on appearing with fellow panel member Henry Morgan on I've Got a Secret (1952)]: I've got to be careful that Henry Morgan and I don't get kidding and forget about the game. We've had the riot act read to us, let's face it. We've gotten the riot act for horsing up the show too much.

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