(1) BILL CULLEN: This was the first of three "WML?" appearances by a man who would, for all practical purposes, become synonymous with Goodson-Todman as both a host and panelist, William Lawrence "Bill" Cullen (1920-1990). It is also the only time he ever appeared as a panelist, in an episode which, like most 1950-1952 "WML?" episodes, is today lost to history. At this point, Mr. Cullen had already made an impression on G-T as the host a 1949 radio quiz show called "Beat the Clock," which bore no relation to the subsequent stunt series of the same title that was hosted on both radio and TV by Bud Collyer; as well as being host of both the radio and TV versions of "Winner Take All." In 1952, less than two years from tonight's now-lost "WML?" episode, Bill became a panelist on a new G-T show, "I've Got a Secret," starting with its third episode; he will be associated with the program until its final cancellation in 1967, and also go on to host the short-lived 1976 CBS revival. Mr. Cullen's other two "WML?" appearances, both as a mystery guest, were far more fortunate than this episode in that the kinescopes of the later shows still survive. On EPISODE #304 of April 1, 1956, Bill appeared with his "IGAS" co-panelists of the time -- Jayne Meadows, Henry Morgan and Faye Emerson -- as a mystery guest team; and on EPISODE #572 of July 9, 1961, he made a riotous appearance where he stumped the panel which, that evening, included Steve Allen, who would become the "IGAS" host from 1964 to its cancellation, as well as Steve's lovely wife Jayne Meadows. Given that Mr. Cullen had a permanent limp, the result of an attack of polio when he was 18 months old, it appeared fortunate that in those days, the "WML?" panel was pre-seated for all episodes. Had Bill made any guest panelist appearances on "WML?" in the years following their inauguration of the "curtain entrance" in 1955, it is very likely the panel would have been pre-seated on such occasions, as well.
(2) OTHER "IGAS" PANELISTS (AND HOSTS) ON "WML?": While this was Bill Cullen's only appearance on the "WML?" panel, over the years, a few other people connected with "I've Got a Secret" would appear on "WML?," either as a guest panelist, mystery guest, or both. The list includes Laraine Day, who appeared within the early years of "IGAS's" run; the aforementioned Faye Emerson and Jayne Meadows; the ever-acerbic Henry Morgan; Orson Bean, who was another early "IGAS" panelist, and who would go on to make a lasting impression on another G-T panel show, "To Tell the Truth"; Kitty Carlisle, another recurring "IGAS" panelist of the early years, who likewise became synonymous with "TTTT," appearing on the latter show in each of five different decades (1957 to 2000); and Betsy Palmer. Of those most associated with "IGAS," only Bess Myerson never made any appearances of any kind on "WML?" within its 17.5-year CBS run; however, she did appear as a mystery guest in 1973, during the course of its 1968-1975 incarnation as a daily syndicated show. And the two people who hosted "IGAS" during its long CBS run -- Garry Moore (from 1952 to 1964) and Steve Allen (from 1964 to 1967) -- were also on "WML?" over the years as both panelists and mystery guests. - W-B (2008)
From Jim Arnone: (2006)
About "Mr. America" Gene Stanlee:
The mystery guest, whose birth name was Eugene Stanlee Zygowicz, was born in Chicago on January 1, 1922 and died on September 22, 2005, at age 83. (The actual year that Eugene was born varies from article to article, and has been reported to be anywhere from 1917 to 1924, thus, his age at his time of death is also under question.)
Gene Stanlee used the title "Mr. America" and was just becoming well known at time of his "What's My Line?" appearance tonight. He started his wrestling career in April 1946 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During his career, which lasted into the 1960's, Stanlee reportedly sold out New York's Madison Square Garden over 50 times.
It appears, however, that Eugene Stanlee Zygowicz, aka Gene "Mr. America" Stanlee, never won a single Mr. America competition. He had no real claim to the title Mr. America. It was just part of his marketing and his stage name. He was one of the stage wrestlers from the fifties. A good bio on him can found at:
Interestingly, another wrestler, Hulk Hogan (real name: Terrence Gene Bollea) also used the Mr. America title, but as an alter-ego name when he appeared wearing a mask (2003 WWE). As the case with Mr. Zygowicz, Hulk Hogan never won a body building title from the AAU or IFBB.
Based on historical records, the current reigning Mr. America in the fall of 1950 was John Farbotnik, who won the 1950 Mr. America competition held at Philadelphia's Academy of Music on May 12-13, 1950. However, Farbotnik was not the guest who appeared tonight. - Jim Arnone (2006)
Per Gil Fates' handwritten logs, the "Mr. America" who appeared tonight was Gene Stanlee. - Suzanne (2005)
The mystery guest was "Mr. America." - Suzanne (2004)
Per Gil Fates' handwritten logs, no kinescope of this episode exists. It was destroyed by CBS before Gil Fates noticed the destruction policy in 1952 and began saving the kinescopes. Only about 10 episodes exist from February 1950 to July 1952. - Suzanne (2004)
Bill Cullen (2/18/1920 - 7/7/1990)
Panel: Dorothy Kilgallen, Louis Untermeyer, Arlene Francis, Bill Cullen. Hal Block had the night off.
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