The Bill Cullen Show
First episode: February 12, 1953
Last episode: May 14, 1953
Seen Thursday mornings 11:15-11:30 on CBS
"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 a short-lived fifteen-minute variety show featuring Betty Brewer and the Milton DeLugg Trio, and sponsored by Mogen David wine.
Original daytime variety shows were not unusual in the fifties, but this one was a little strange. Its time slot was normally taken up by the half-hour serial There's One in Every Family. On Thursdays only, Family was shortened to fifteen minutes in order to make room for Bill's program. DeLugg, a ubiquitous musical presence in the 1950s, would years later be the bandleader on The Gong Show. Brewer was a former U.S.O. entertainer who later performed with Tommy Dorsey's orchestra.
As aired, the program was a barely-if-at-all scripted affair, with Bill sitting at a desk making idle chatter, bantering with his sidekicks or plugging the sponsor's product. Within each quarter-hour program, DeLugg and his trio played a short instrumental number, and Brewer performed a vocal selection. A recurring gag on the show seemed to be that Brewer inexplicably sang to inanimate objects. In one episode, she's singing to a stuffed squirrel, named "Frank Hoffman," that appears to be the show's mascot. In another, she sings while holding a feather duster for no apparent reason. Another running gag on the show was that something unfortunate happened to the Mogen David logo behind Bill's desk each week. There were no guest stars.
Amazingly, two episodes of this incredibly obscure series survive. They are from February 19 (the second show) and April 2. Bill's birthday was celebrated on the February 19 program (it actually was a day earlier). Having seen the series, we're not surprised it only lasted thirteen weeks.
A newspaper ad touting the series describes the format this way: "As a regular feature of the Thursday morning program, Bill reminisces about the good old days and often conducts interviews with guests selected for their close association with the topic of the day." But two of the 13 episodes of the series survives and neither comes close to this description.