Blankety Blanks

Last Update: December 16, 1999 Ė photo added.

Airing: 11:30-12 noon Monday-Friday, April 21-June 27, ABC.

Personnel: Bill Cullen, host; Bob Clayton, announcer. A Bob Stewart Production. Taped in New York City.

Description: Breathtakingly boring word game.

Game Play: Two teams competed, comprised of a celebrity and their contestant partner. Cullen revealed a subject the players were to identify, along with six numbers which were clues to the subjectís identity. Taking a card from a spinning wheel to his right, Cullen then placed it in an electronic machine on his podium, which selected one of the four players and a dollar amount from $10 to $100. The player chosen selected a clue and was given a chance to identify the subject. They could then double their money by solving a Blankety Blank, a funny riddle with a one- or two-word blank at the end. The first team to win $2,000 (!) won the game and moved on to the end game.

End Game: If indeed there was one. I have no descriptions of what happened when the end game was played.

Background: I couldnít even begin to guess why ABC decided to counterprogram The Hollywood Squares with a game show; I suppose Stewart might have been given a shot at a new show with the success of The $10,000 Pyramid (or maybe ABC owed him a favor). In any case, Blankety Blanks took to the air April 21, hosted by Cullen, Stewartís first choice in any show he was doing at that point. The show replaced reruns of The Brady Bunch.

Oh, Blank It: And 2Ĺ months later, it was replaced by reruns of The Brady Bunch. Like I said, I donít quite know what ABC was thinking. If this had been a spectacular concept that would have been one thing, but it wasnít. The biggest humor game then airing, Match Game í75, used professional comedy writers; I doubt Blankety Blanks did.

Bill of Fare: As always, Bill Cullen was a busy man. During 1975, he hosted Winning Streak on NBC (well, two days of it), Blankety Blanks on ABC, the weekly syndicated $25,000 Pyramid, and appeared as a regular panelist on the daily syndicated To Tell the Truth. One of the most charming hosts ever, Cullen holds the record for most games hosted with 23 (although some of them, such as Blankety Blanks, were extremely short runs). Cullenís talents may not have been appreciated by a television audience that perceived him as somewhat ubiquitous (he was appearing 11 times a week as host and panelist of the games mentioned above). If you donít believe me, listen to the experts:

Itís possible very few viewers knew that, due to a bout with polio as a youth, Cullen found it increasingly difficult to walk as the years wore on. After Blankety Blanks came to an end, Cullen didnít host another network game until CBSís 1978 game Pass the Buck (aside from a summer run as host of CBSís Iíve Got a Secret), as game show production had almost completely moved from New York to Hollywood. (Also, I suspect Cullen was completely antithetical to Lin Bolenís young studs theory.) He stuck with To Tell the Truth and Pyramid until those shows ended in 1978 and 1979, respectively, then moved to Los Angeles to helm The Love Experts (syndicated, 1978-79), Chain Reaction (NBC, 1980), Password Plus (NBC, 1980, as Allen Luddenís temporary replacement), Blockbusters (NBC, 1980-82), Childís Play (CBS, 1982-83), Hot Potato (NBC, 1984), and The Jokerís Wild (syndicated, 1984-86). Cullen died July 7, 1990, at the age of 70. There will never be another host like him.

The Home Game: None was issued, unsurprisingly.

Reruns: If episodes of The $10,000 Pyramid are gone from this era, one suspects Blankety Blanks is too.

Revivals: Elements of Blankety Blanks popped up in NBCís Shoot for the Stars and ABCís Double Talk, both produced by Stewart as well. (Ever heard of once burned, twice shy, ABC? Didnít think so.) It will take a lot of work to ever whip this concept into shape.

Curt Alliaume, Executive Producer: You know, I donít see that happening.

My Grade: D+.

Sound + Vision:

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Blankety Blanks is a copyrighted title of Bob Stewart Productions. This page is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by Bob Stewart Productions, Columbia/Tri-Star Television, their subsidiaries, affiliates, or successor organizations. No challenge to their ownership is implied. Photo originally appeared on eBay.

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