January 8, 1979 - March 26, 1982 (Bill hosted from April 14- May 12, 1980)
Bill guest-hosted this popular
spin-off of the classic word-association game during Allen Ludden's initial
The game is played with two teams, each comprised of a
celebrity and a civilian. Bill gives the password to one member of each
team, and that person has to give a one-word clue to prompt his/her partner
to guess the password.
If correct, the word goes up on the board, if wrong the
opposing team does likewise. Each team is allowed two clues. Correctly
guessing a clue puts it on the puzzle board.
After a word is placed on the
board, the team's guesser for the round guesses the answer to the "Password
Puzzle," a well-known person, place, or thing. (If neither team
guesses a password, it's placed on the board and no one guesses.) If neither
team guesses the fith & final password, the solution to the puzzle is revealed and
the round is thrown out. If the guesser can't give a
correct answer with all five answers revealed, his/her partner has a chance
to answer. If neither one gets it right, the puzzle is thrown out.
The first two puzzles are worth $100, the next two
are worth $200. $300 wins the game and a chance at $5,000 in the
10 successive letters of the alphabet (A-J, F-O, etc.)
are shown, representing the first letter of each password. The clue-giver
and guesser alternated between giving a clue and giving a guess. $100 is
awarded for each password guessed, with $5,000 for all ten. If an illegal
clue (opposite, two words, a hyphenated word) is given, $1,000 is taken
outof the jackpot.
Judging from his knowledge of the show's format and
gameplay, Bill was either a devoted emcee or he was a big fan of the show.
Of course, he had also been a frequent guest beforehand, so he already knew
the rules anyway, but he even picked up on things that weren't technically
rules ("Allen always says you should think of two clues before you start.")
Bill's tenure on the show lasted all of four weeks, but the webmaster's
fondness for both he and "Password Plus" is why this page is here.
Bill was likely the lead
candidate to become the new host when
Allen's illness permanently sidelined him in late 1980 (he died in 1981),
but "Blockbusters" had just begun taping with Bill as host. NBC probably
didn't want to shake up a new show by introducing a new host so early in the
run, so Bill was passed over and Tom Kennedy became permanent host instead.