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Bill Carruthers

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BillCarruthers2003

Bill in early 2003, during the Big Bucks documentary.

William H. "Bill" Carruthers (September 27, 1930 – March 2, 2003) was a producer and director who got his start at WXYZ (the ABC affiliate in Detroit) as a junior stage manager following a four-year stint in the Air Force. On one day around 1956-57, he showed up for work on The Soupy Sales Show (then a local series) and volunteered to fill in as director at the last minute (the regular one was unable to do the program), which quickly transferred to a full-time position.

BackgroundEdit

In 1959, when Sales expanded to being a national series, Carruthers moved his family to Hollywood; a year later, he began working on shows including The Steve Allen Show and Take A Good Look, followed by mega-hits The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game for Chuck Barris.

Bill founded the Carruthers Company in 1968, whose first series The Johnny Cash Show (1969-71) proved to be successful, if briefly. Game shows soon began calling, to which he did Golf For Swingers (1972), two unsold pilots called Big Spenders (1974-75), an unsold revival attempt of Beat the Odds (1975), Give-n-Take (1975), The Neighbors (1975-76), and Second Chance (1977). He also directed The Family Game (1967), All-Star Secrets (1979), Whew! (1979-80), and Whodunnit? (1979) for other companies, and his company partnered with Ralph Andrews to do the ABC version of You Don't Say! (1975).

In 1982 and 1983, Carruthers received Daytime Emmy nominations in "Outstanding Achievement in Coverage of Special Events": specifically, directing the 1981 and 1982 Daytime Emmy Award ceremonies.

While none of his own games ran for more than a few months, Chance seemed to have a future. In 1983, Carruthers overhauled the format, putting more emphasis on the board of cash and prizes; the result, Press Your Luck, aired on CBS from 1983-86 and was later revived from 2002-03 on Game Show Network as Whammy!. On Press, he was also the voice of both Whammy and his beloved Tammy Whammette.

During the run of Press, Bill did two unsold pilots: Magic Moments in 1985 and a taped runthrough of Up and Over (an attempt to revive Give-n-Take) in 1986, notably hosting the latter. In 1990, Carruthers tried again with 2 Heads are Better than One, which also failed to sell.

During the 1990s, Bill worked on Extra!, Bill Cosby's You Bet Your Life (1992-93), various specials for The Family Channel, and managed to get another game show on the air with Designated Hitter (1993-94). In 1996, he suffered a stroke while on the set of a production (which one is not known), which forced him into retirement.

Wheel of FortuneEdit

In September 1973, Carruthers was tapped to produce and direct the Shopper's Bazaar pilot. The fact he was not invited back for the subsequent two pilots a year later suggests that Merv Griffin and Lin Bolen considered him to be part of the problem; Bill was replaced by John Rhinehart on the production side and Marty Pasetta on the directing side.

Interestingly, while Carruthers himself did not associate with Wheel following this, one sound effect he used on Spenders, Odds, and Take found its way there: specifically, what became the Bonus Round timer when the five-and-a-vowel iteration debuted in 1981. The sound was redone in July 1989, and remained until February 2007.

DeathEdit

Bill died from heart failure at the age of 72, shortly after completing interviews for the Game Show Network documentary Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal (regarding Michael Larson's infamous hour-long game from June 1984 that was edited into a two-parter and led to an overhaul/increase in the show's Big Board light patterns).

At the time of his death, Carruthers was survived by wives from his three marriages and five children.

ReferencesEdit

LinksEdit

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