Down You Go
First episode: May 30, 1951
Bill's first episode: June 30, 1956
Last episode: September 8, 1956
Bill's shows seen Saturday evenings at 7:30 on NBC
Four celebrity panelists saw a Hangman puzzle submitted by a home viewer. The panelists took turns guessing letters in the puzzle; a wrong letter eliminated the panelist (hence "Down You Go") and earned the home viewer $5.
Originally broadcast from Chicago on the Dumont Network, Down You Go was hosted by Dr. Bergen Evans, a professor at Northwestern University. Regular panelists originally included radio editor Francis Coughlin, Professor Robert Breen, and publisher Phyllis Cerf. As you may have guessed, it was originally presented as a high-brow, intellectual affair. The series is noteworthy for having aired on all four of the national TV networks of the day. After a four year run on Dumont, it showed up as a summer series on CBS in 1955, then spent the 1955-1956 season on ABC before finishing its run as a 1956 summer show on NBC.
Dr. Evans and Down You Go moved to NBC on June 16, 1956 (the ticket here was likely for a "shakedown show," a not-for-broadcast episode done just to get everybody in the groove of doing the show), with a panel in tow that included actor Arthur Treacher, actress Hildy Parks, ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson and recently-crowned Miss America Lee Meriwether. Two weeks later, NBC suddenly announced that Evans would be taking a vacation and that Bill Cullen would take over for him for the rest of the summer. While the press release assured readers that Evans would return in the fall, the show was cancelled before Evans could return. A July 2 press release announcing a guest panel appearance by Jayne Mansfield simply said "Bill Cullen is the emcee" without making any reference to Evans.
A feature of Bill's version as the occasional appearance of special surprise guests who appeared in silhouette, and the panel tried to identify them by working out the letters of the guest's name.
Despite an almost uninterrupted five-year run, and despite being a prime-time show (which are more prone to surviving), so far, there's only one existing episode accounted for, hosted by Dr. Bergen Evans.