Bill Cullen

From Academic Kids

Bill Cullen, full name William Lawrence Cullen (February 18, 1920July 7, 1990), was an American radio and television personality. He was best known for his role as a game show host, which spanned five decades in both radio and television.

Cullen was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and survived a childhood bout with polio that left him with a limp for the rest of his life. (In most of his later game shows, the set was designed in such a way that he came out from behind the curtain or from off stage riding on something of a turntable so that he never had to walk any distance across the stage and advertise this fact.) After moving to New York City he hosted several radio programs, including game shows, in the late 1940s and 1950s. His first TV game show was Winner Take All, a Mark Goodson-Bill Todman production that aired on CBS in 1952. He hosted the highly successful daytime and prime-time versions of The Price is Right, another Goodson-Todman production, from 1956 to 1965. He was also a long time panelist on two Goodson-Todman classics. He was on the panel of I've Got a Secret from 1952 until 1967 and then he was a panelist (and guest host) on To Tell the Truth from 1969 until 1978.

Cullen hosted 20 different game shows over the years. Some of the shows on that long list include Eye Guess in the 1960s, Three on a Match and the nighttime version of The $25,000 Pyramid in the 1970s, and Blockbusters, Child's Play, Hot Potato, and The Joker's Wild (his last game show) in the 1980s. He appeared as a celebrity guest on many other game shows throughout his TV career, including I've Got a Secret, Password, To Tell the Truth, Match Game, and the daytime versions of Pyramid that Dick Clark hosted.

What made Cullen so beloved is that he made everything look easy. He could make the most complicated game seem simple and easy to learn. He also had a disarming self-deprecating wit that told you that he didn't take life very seriously. He often referred to himself as "Uncle Bill" and his personality did have a certain avunculuar nature. He made everyone feel welcome and wanted.

Cullen was a very bright man. He was a pilot during World War II and he had a long time love of anything mechanical. He was also a fanatical sports fan. He even did color commentary on college football games early in his long career, and was even once involved in the broadcasting of track and field on NBC. On I've Got A Secret especially, the producers learned early on that if they wanted to keep the game going for a while, they would never start with Bill if it was anything sports-related or mechanical, because chances were good that he would nail it immediately.

Cullen was married three times. His first marriage was a brief one while still living in Pittsburgh. His second marriage was to singer Carol Ames from 1949 to 1955. He was then married to former dancer and model Ann Macomber from 1955 until his death in 1990.

Cullen died in Los Angeles, California, of lung cancer in 1990 at the age of 70. He had been a smoker for all of his adult life.

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