THE BILL CULLEN SHOW


"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 show.


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.



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