Bud Collyer (Clayton Johnson Heermance)

Bud Collyer

In 1950 Bud Collyer got the job which genuinely made him a household name: Beat the Clock, a game show that pitted couples (usually, but not exclusively, married) against the clock in a race to perform silly (sometimes messy) tasks, which were called “problems” but could with more accuracy be called “stunts.” The grand prizes for these usually came in terms of cash or home appliances. (When Monty Hall hosted the program in the 1980s, the “problems” did indeed come to be called “stunts.”) Collyer hosted the show for eleven years (1950–61), and he also co-produced it for part of its run. Collyer did an excellent job keeping the show fast-paced; he spoke quickly and brightly, and was often moving around the stage as much as the contestants. Frequently Collyer would interrupt a stunt to offer helpful advice, or demonstrate a more efficient way to win the game. One of Collyer’s trademarks on the show was securing his long-tubed stage microphone in his armpit (particularly while demonstrating the basics of a stunt for his contestants). He also typically wore bow ties, and liked to point out when contestants were “bow-tie guys” like himself, though initially, through the mid-1950s, he wore straight “four-in-hand” neckties most weeks. He enjoyed meeting families of contestants, and was fond of children. He would always ask about contestants’ children, and sometimes would compare the number and sexes with that of his own family. When children were brought onstage with their parents, he would take time to talk to each of them and ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up, in a manner reminiscent of his contemporary, Art Linkletter. At the height of the show’s popularity, an installment of The Honeymooners (which surfaced years later, when Jackie Gleason released the so-called “Lost Episodes”) featured blustery Ralph Kramden and scatterbrained Ed Norton appearing on and playing Beat the Clock. Unlike the show’s familiar parody of The $64,000 Question (The $99,000 Answer), Gleason’s Beat the Clock episode used the actual show and set, complete with the familiar large 60-Second clock emblazoned with sponsor Sylvania’s logo, and ending with Bud Collyer and his famous sign-off: “Next time may be your time to beat the clock.”

In 1956, Bud Collyer became equally, if not more, familiar as the host of a new Goodson-Todman production, To Tell the Truth, on CBS. This panel show featured four celebrities questioning three challengers all claiming to be the same person. Collyer would read an affidavit from the actual contestant, and then monitor the panel’s cross-examination. Because the show depended on conversation instead of physical stunts, Collyer’s demeanor on To Tell the Truth was much calmer and more avuncular than his fever-pitch performances on Beat the Clock. After the celebrities voted for their choices, Collyer intoned the famous phrase, “Will the real… John Doe… please… stand up?” Collyer always employed pauses to build the suspense. Sometimes one or both impostors would pretend to stand up before the real contestant did, bringing a moment of last-minute suspense as well as a chuckle from Collyer. The sequence provided an especially riotous moment in 1962, when Collyer purred, with a particularly pronounced twinkle, “Will the real… Bob Miller… please… stand up?” TwoBob Millers, both pitchers for the newborn New York Mets, rose in response. The show became popular enough to sustain a weekday version as well as a weekly evening version, and Collyer presided over both concurrently. Among the celebrities who served as To Tell The Truth panelists during the 14-year run of the show were Tom Poston, Peggy Cass, Orson Bean, Kitty Carlisle (the foregoing foursome was the resident panel in the weekday series), Don Ameche, Peter Lind Hayes, Johnny Carson, Ralph Bellamy, Polly Bergen, Mimi Benzell, Sally Ann Howes, Hy Gardner, Phyllis Newman, and Robert Q. Lewis. When To Tell the Truth was planned to be revived for syndication, producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman wanted Collyer to once again host the show. Collyer declined, citing poor health. When Goodson and Todman called Garry Moore about the job, he immediately called Collyer, who told Moore that “I am just not up to it.” Bud Collyer died at age 61 from a circulatory ailment in Greenwich, Connecticut, on the same day To Tell The Truth was revived in syndication.

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Born

  • June, 18, 1908
  • USA
  • Manhattan, New York

Died

  • September, 08, 1969
  • USA
  • Greenwich, Connecticut

Cemetery

  • Putnam Cemetery
  • Greenwich, Connecticut
  • USA

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