Bill Cullen was one of the greatest American television and radio personalities who ever lived. He was best known for hosting game shows, which earned him the moniker “Dean of Game Show Hosts.” Over the course of his 50-year career, Bill endeared himself to the American public and became a household name, gaining fame and wealth along the way. When he was not hosting his own game shows, he frequently appeared on other shows as a guest celebrity or panelist, such as What’s My Line?, The Cross-Wits, Match Game, Shoot for the Stars, Personality, and Break the Bank.
Bill Cullen Biography
The big shot radio personality was born William Lawrence Francis Cullen on February 18, 1920, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Lillian and William Cullen. He was the only child born to his parents and his father worked as a Ford car dealer.
Bill didn’t have the rosiest childhood. When he was only 19 months old, he succumbed to polio, and although he survived, the disease left him with physical deficits he had to contend with throughout his life. He attended the University of Pittsburgh, but lack of finance caused him to drop out. However, he returned to finish his degree after he began making decent money in radio. He took an interest in broadcasting and decided to pitch his career tent there in 1939, working as a DJ and play-by-play announcer for WWSW radio in his hometown. Four years later, he left to join KDKA for a short period of time before deciding to relocate to New York and seek out bigger opportunities.
After one week of living in the big city, Bill got a job at CBS as a staff announcer. He also did freelance work to boost his income, writing jokes for some of the best radio celebrities at the time. He made his first foray into the world of game shows in 1945, as an announcer on a show called Give and Take. Bill spent the next seven years working as an announcer on several other shows, including Winner Take All, which became his first hosting job after he was offered the position following the exit of one of the anchors. He also worked as a radio host for popular shows on WRCA and NBC.
At this point, Bill Cullen had already established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the broadcasting industry, so it was unsurprising when he broke into television and quickly claimed new territories. He hosted numerous shows such as Place the Face, Bank on the Stars, Name That Tune, The Price is Right, Three on a Match, The Love Experts, Chain Reaction, and Hot Potato.
Thanks to his humorous personality and charisma, Bill never had any difficulty finding work on television. He went on to host Blankety Blanks, How Do You Like Your Eggs?, The $25,000 Pyramid, Child’s Play, The Joker’s Wild, and Blockbusters.
Wife And Family
The illustrious radio and television personality was not so successful in the marriage department as he was in his career. Bill made three trips to the altar in his lifetime. His first was to wed Ruth Elizabeth Harrington, but the marriage lasted only from 1943-1948. He married Carol Ames, the singer shortly after his divorce was finalized, and the marriage made it to 1955 before ending in a divorce. Later that same year, Bill recovered from the failure of his second marriage and tied the knot with Ann Roemheld Macomber – the former model and dancer on December 24. The third time was definitely the charm as this marriage proved successful right till his very end.
Lifetime Achievements And Awards
Early on in his career, Bill Cullen was a color commentator for college soccer games, as well as a track and field reporter for NBC. He was famed for being incredibly knowledgeable about sports, so much so that other game show hosts learned to avoid asking him anything sports-related.
Bill received good acclaim and recognition for his work. He was nominated for the Emmy Awards three times and won a Primetime Emmy for his work on Three On A Match. He later earned Daytime Emmy Nominations for hosting Hot Potato and Blockbusters. Over the span of his five-decade career, Bill Cullen hosted an astounding number of television and radio shows, amounting to over 25,000 episodes.
How Did He Die?
In the end, it was one of Bill’s cherished habits that claimed his life. The game show host had been a religious smoker since his teenage years, and he was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer. After a protracted battle with the illness, he left this earthly plane for another on July 7, 1990, in his Bel Air Home. He was 70 years old at the time and was survived by his wife Ann, and no children.