In the original version of "The Price is Right," four contestants one a returning champion competed throughout the show. After a merchandise item was displayed (often by beautiful models aka Pretty Purchasers), the contestants, one at a time, bid on the item. Unless otherwise specified, each bid had to be higher than the previous bid; each contestant could "freeze," or stop bidding, if they believed their next bid would cause them to overbid, thus disqualifying themselves from winning the prize. The bidding continued until an undefined time limit expired. Host Cullen then announced the price of the item; the contestant who bid closest without going over won the prize (and on occassion, won either a bonus prize or got to play a bonus game). The last prize of the day usually was the most valuable and often determined the day's champion, who got to return to the next show. A special feature of the original "Price is Right" allowed home viewers to bid on special showcases. When the show ...Written by
Brian Rathjen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Before Bob Barker guided The Price is Right that's still on the air today, there was an original version of the TV classic that was hosted by Bill Cullen. The format was a lot different back then, four contestants played for the entire show bidding on merchandise and even winning offbeat bonus prizes such as an island or a bit part in a TV show.
One of the keys to the show's success was creator and producer Bob Stewart. He came up with the idea of contestants losing the game if they went over the retail price and most of the bonus prizes. He left the show to start his own production company in 1964.
The other was the outstanding hosting by Cullen, who injected humor and kept the show moving well. It was also a stepping stone for the show's main announcers, Don Pardo and his replacement when the show moved to ABC, Johnny Gilbert. Both are still behind the microphones today.
I have only seen a few episodes on video or the web and I thought it was an outstanding antithesis to the low stakes panel show and the big money quiz shows that were popular in 1956. It was also a simple game where the home viewer could play along.
The original Price is Right ended after nine years since it ran its course. But seven years later, it would be back in a new format where contestants could "Come on Down!"
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