Artistic representations of our favorite host...
Bill on the Wall of Fame
Beginning in the 1920s, the original Palm Restaurant on Second Avenue in New York City was a hangout for cartoonists and comic strip artists, many of whom worked nearby at the King Features Syndicate offices. Those artists started a tradition of decorating the walls of the restaurant with drawings of their own famous characters, as well as caricatures of the restaurant's regular patrons. In August, 1966, Bill got his turn. McGowan "Mac" Miller, the restaurant's resident cartoonist for more than twenty years, drew Bill's portrait.
Bill's likeness is prominently on display in the back room of the restaurant's second floor. He is surrounded by title cards for many of his popular radio and TV series to date, including the then-current Eye Guess. In fact, the words "Eye" and "Guess" appear in his signature glasses. Interestingly, the titles surrounding him include Quick On the Draw, an early TV show that featured a celebrity panel identifying drawings by cartoonist Bob Dunn. We've never found any evidence that Bill participated in that series, which started as a local NYC show and appeared on the old Dumont network in 1952. We may have yet another show to add to our man's credits.
CBS Promotional Images
CBS promoted their fall line-up in 1959 with a magnificent series of similar advertisements, each one devoted to a specific genre of programs and all with the same theme; stars of each genre crowding around a TV to watch CBS. Game shows were lumped into "Variety" for this one. Bill is in the upper left, seated next to Henry Morgan for I've Got a Secret. Host Garry Moore, who had his own regular variety show on the network, is elsewhere in the image.
In addition to a long career as a caricature artist, cartoonist Al Kilgore drew the comic strip adaptations of Bullwinkle and The Pink Panther.
Rudy Cristiano drew this one to promote I've Got a Secret.
Ernie Colon, the artist behind this one, had a fascinatingly varied career as a comic book artist. His career spans Archie, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and a number of horror comics. Later in life, he arted graphic novels based on the 9/11 Commission Report and the life of Anne Frank.
Synthetics maker Chemstrand sponsored an unusual promotion for the start of the 1966 season on CBS: A jigsaw puzzle with pictures of many of the network's top stars. The puzzle included a picture of the I've Got A Secret cast.
NBC Promotional Images
We have very little context to offer here because all we have is the clipping, which ran in the Cincinnati Post and Times-Star. We're rather certain it came directly from NBC as something different than the usual publicity photo. The artist was Bruce Stark, a staff artist at New York Daily News who occasionally contributed to MAD, TV Guide, and Time. Stark apparently did his research and possibly sat on the audience of a Price is Right broadcast, because Don Pardo really did do the audience warm-up while straddling atop a 12-foot ladder.
From around the same time as the above, here's a delightful set of caricatures touting NBC's daytime schedule.
We're thinking this isn't really a network promotional image and that the artwork was actually done locally for this TV Guide ad.
No idea who the artist is, but we love this sketch of Bill used to promote Chain Reaction.
One of the shows implicated in the 1950s quiz show scandals was Dotto, hosted by Bill's brother-in-law Jack Narz. On Dotto, contestants saw a connect-the-dots puzzle; correct answers formed lines between the dots. The object of the game was to identify the subject of the puzzle--usually, a famous person or character.
Life Magazine's photo archives include a handful of shots that a photographer snapped in the Dotto offices, where the walls were decorated with puzzles used on previous programs. A connect-the-dots portrait of Bill was among those visible in Life's photos.
In the summer of 1958, NBC's prime time line-up included three game shows with hosts who were related--Jack Narz hosted Dotto, his kid brother Tom Kennedy hosted Big Game, and their brother-in-law Bill hosted The Price is Right. The novelty of it attracted a bit of press attention at the time. We're not sure who the artist is for this drawing.
One of the stranger drawings of Bill we've come across; this oddly-written panel comic is singing Bill's praises as an emcee. But we say "oddly-written" because the choice of words throughout makes it seem like the artist is insulting Bill. You actually have to read this one to grasp the point he's making.
An odd article about Bill's desire to own a house in the suburbs. During research on Quizmaster, Ann told us that Bill would occasionally say things to the press that weren't really true but that he felt made him sound more relatable, and we think this is an example of that. Bill and Ann happily lived in an apartment for 20 more years after this article ran, so we're thinking owning a house wasn't so much of a priority for them.
Mel Mann drew these two illustrations for Celebrity Cookbook by Johnna Blinn (Moby Books, 1981). Bill had changed his look years earlier, but even as he remained a constant presence on television in the early 1980s, the success of I've Got a Secret and The Price is Right seem to have left a more permanent image of him.
This caricature was featured alongside one of Bill's recipes for a cooking section in a newspaper.
Some of the most famous caricature artwork in all of show business are the hundreds of images lining the walls of Sardi's Restaurant in New York City. Bill's caricature was drawn by Stalag 17 playwright Donald Bevan.
For The $25,000 Pyramid. Another one that we just love, and another one where we don't know the artist.
For a 1989 benefit honoring Kitty Carlisle, Washington, D.C.-based artist Dave Connell was commissioned to create a series of caricatures to decorate the room. While speaking to the event organizer in the weeks leading up to the event, Kitty mentioned that she was particularly fond of the syndicated 1969-78 run of To Tell the Truth, so Connell drew a series of caricatures of Kitty, Peggy Cass, Orson Bean (who was a regular panelist during the syndicated show's first season), and Bill.
There's a whole subculture devoted to artwork made with crop seeds, and you can see galleries from numerous artists at Cropart.com. Alan Carpenter made this one in 1998, using white millet, red millet, hulled millet, rape seed, timothy, pansy, dill, white Dutch clover, celosia, dianthus, poppy seed, alfalfa, and trefoil.
We found these on DeviantArt.com. The artist, username Partigirl, offers this explanation: "This is one of two cards I made up for a Bill Cullen Christmas we had. Bill Cullen was the original Price is Right host among other shows. Considered the dean of game show hosts. We decided to give him a full Christmas cheer one year."
These two images were inspired by photos of Bill found in the original 1987 edition of The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows. One of them even retains the book's caption for the photo.
Another find from DeviantArt. User Darkgex sketched this anime-style rendering of Bill.
Bil Keane, better known for The Family Circus, also drew this TV-centric single panel comic from 1954-76. This gag popped up when The Price is Right starring our Bill was at its zenith. Bill was so delighted by it that he kept a clipping of it in his career scrapbooks.
Jack Kirby is considered one of the true pioneers of comic book art. Among his vast resume, he created Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, and The Incredible Hulk. And in between, he contributed a piece for Cracked issue #14 in 1960, a preview of "New Panel Shows." Among them is Spin the Bottle, a celebrity game show hosted by Bill. We've uploaded both the full comic, and a higher-resolution scan of a single panel highlighting Bill.
Drew Friedman, better known these days for his frequent guest spots on Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast, creates some astonishingly realistic drawings of celebrities for his comic artwork. "Hollywood Hell" was a page that he drew in the 1980s for Heavy Metal Magazine. This one depicts Bill supposedly in some salacious situations during the 1950s.
Legendary comic book artist Wallace Wood drew Bill for this take on I've Got a Secret.
And one more from MAD Magazine. Rather than targeting a specific show, this one is taking on the practice of "plugging." Each day's episode of The Price is Right included plugs for the company that furnished the bid displays, the moving vans that would deliver the prizes, the sponsors, and all of the companies that furnished each prize, so Bill was considered a prime offender in that regard.
Our own contribution to this page, for whatever it's worth. These are images that we've Photoshopped together from our own photo collections. We've enabled downloading in this album. Just click the download icon for the image you want. Wherever possible, we've made Mac and Windows oriented versions. And credit where credit is due, the image of the pyramids came from DragoArt.com. Pass the Buck is actually a CBS promo slide that we cleaned up a bit, and the Joker's Wild wallpaper is a promo slide that we didn't really alter in any meaningful way.