"It's Cullen!...and company! Betty Brewer...is something
to see! You'll love Bill Cullen, and Betty's worth a hug! Now we supply the
music (And Me, I'm Milton DeLugg!) We're here from Mogen-David, and boy,
what a thrill! [Accordion fanfare] Here's Bill!"
"The Bill Cullen Show" was an odd 15-minute show that
Bill hosted Thursday mornings for 13 spectacular weeks in 1953.
Only two episodes are known to survive, and they are truly bizarre sights to
behold. Judging from the two episodes, the show didn't have a script but
probably had an hour of idea-bouncing and maybe a rehearsal beforehand.
The show featured Bill ad-libbing throughout behind a desk with mostly just
chatter or plugs for Mogen-David Wine. Bill isn't really at his best here
because he's not talking to any specific person. He's alone at that desk,
and Bill struggles without anyone to joke with. Fortunately, the show had
two regulars, and Bill had his chances to interact with them during the
Milton DeLugg, who later became the bandleader for "The
Gong Show," led the three-piece band with a number in each show. Here, he's
seen doing a comedy bit where Bill calls him on the phone asking him for a
performance, unaware that Milton is standing behind him and talking through
a broken wire.
Betty Brewer also came in to sing a song in each show,
and the gimmick of her appearances was apparently that Bill had her do
something odd while she sang. In the two existing episodes, she's seen
serenading a dead squirrel (read below for more) and in another, she dusts
Bill's "office" during her performance (though for the most part she just
holds onto it).
The show also had a mascot, prominently featured in the
second episode: a dead, stuffed squirrel named Frank Hoffman. His purpose
for being there is trivial, but the show as a whole is rather strange.
The show was never really uproariously funny, but I found a few moments
funny. Below, you see: Bill asking the tech crew to do some strange tricks
with the camera, Bill wishing for "26 weeks" on his 33rd birthday; a musical
number with Bill on toy piano and too much sheet music; Bill explaining that
the set is small to maintain a relaxed, intimate atmosphere. The camera
pulls away as he says this, to the point where Bill is yelling by the time
he is done explaining the "cozy" atmosphere; and the Mogen-David logo
collapsing behind Bill, who has just finished doing a plug for it.