|Created by||Al Schwartz & "Snag" Werris|
|Presented by||Jack Narz|
|Narrated by||Ralph Paul|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||30 Minutes|
|Original channel||CBS (daytime)
|Original run||January 6 – August 15, 1958|
Dotto is an American television quiz show which aired on CBS from January 6 to August 15, 1958 and was hosted by Jack Narz. Although it quickly became the highest-rated daytime game show on television, its end came when it became the unexpected first casualty – and ignition – of the quiz show scandals that rocked American broadcasting as the 1950s closed.
Dotto was based on the children's game of Connect the dots. Contestants answered general-knowledge questions to connect dots that made a portrait of a famous or historical person.
Two contestants--a champion and challenger--were each given the same portrait (though they couldn't see the other player's) and started with 50 unconnected dots. Then, each contestant, with the challenger going first, answered questions in various categories to connect the dots. Each category had questions that connected 5, 8 or 10 dots, with the number corresponding to the difficulty of each question.
A correct answer by a contestant connected the dots on that player's portrait, but an incorrect answer or failing to answer in time meant the dots connected on the opponent's portrait. After a contestant has connected 25, 35 and 45 dots, s/he was given phrase- or word-like clues for additional help.
At any time, a contestant may signal (a buzzer for the challenger and an alarm bell for the champion) to guess the person being drawn. The contestant who signals then steps over to a "Dottograph" and writes the answer, with the writing angled so that the opponent can't see. If the contestant is incorrect, s/he automatically loses, but if correct, then the opponent is given 10 seconds to study the picture and give a verbal answer. If the opponent is correct, the game is tied and another game is played with new portraits for higher cash prizes, but if the opponent is incorrect, then the contestant (who signaled first and wrote the correct answer) wins the game plus cash for however many dots were left unconnected, and goes on to face another contestant.
On the daytime version, each unconnected dot was worth $10, with tied games increasing the value to $20 and $40. On the nighttime version, each unconnected dot was worth $100, with ties increasing the value to $200 and $300.
After a game was completed, usually during the middle of each episode, a "Home Viewer Dotto" game was played, in which a person selected by postcard drawing was called by telephone live on the air for a chance to guess the person being drawn. If correct, the home viewer won a new car or other valuable prizes, and if incorrect, the viewer received a consolation prize (the daytime version gave away a supply of products advertised by the show's sponsor, Colgate-Palmolive, while the nighttime version gave away a trip). At the end of each episode, additional dots were connected and a clue was displayed for the next episode's "Home Viewer Dotto" game.
Dotto debuted on January 6, 1958 at 11:30 AM, replacing the long-running (and controversial) Warren Hull game Strike It Rich. Facing Bob Barker's popular Truth or Consequences on NBC and local programming on ABC (who had not programmed at 11:30 in three years), within six months Dotto became the highest-rated quiz program of the year and Narz achieved a popularity equal to that of Hal March on The $64,000 Question.
The show became so popular that on July 1 a weekly nighttime version began on NBC with the same format. One of the nighttime contestants, a young actress and model named Connie Hines, later became famous as Carol Post on the popular comedy Mister Ed.
Scandal and cancellation
Dotto's downfall began, almost by accident, in May 1958. A notebook belonging to contestant (and later journalist) Marie Winn was found by another contestant, Ed Hilgemeier, who discovered that the notebook included questions and answers to be used during Winn's appearances (including an episode with Yaffe Kimball-Slatin). Executives at CBS and the show's sponsor, Colgate-Palmolive, later confirmed the suspicion about the country's new highest-rated quiz show. CBS executive vice president Thomas Fisher tested kinescopes of the show against Winn's notebook and concluded that the show looked fixed. CBS and Colgate executives also learned that the show's producers had paid Winn, Hilgemeier, and Kimball-Slatin to keep quiet about the notebook and the fixing of the show.
When Colgate, CBS, and NBC executives (including CBS president Frank Stanton) met in August 1958, at the time the nighttime Dotto began to look like an NBC hit, executive producer Frank Cooper admitted that the series was rigged and that only a select few among his production staff knew it. The executives agreed – Dotto had to be cancelled.
NBC ended its run on August 12, followed by the CBS version three days later. In interviews, host Jack Narz stated that he was not notified of the cancellation until some point after the final episodes had been recorded. Narz was later subpoenaed and took a polygraph test, the results indicating that he was not connected to the fraud.
Narz moved to a new show the following Monday, Top Dollar, which ran until October 23, 1959.
The Dotto revelations prompted the New York Journal-American, at last, to take seriously the previously-presented accusations by deposed Twenty One champion Herb Stempel that the popular nighttime quiz had been rigged, and the quiz show scandals were on in earnest.
Jack Narz continued to work in television, hosting not only Top Dollar but also Video Village (1960), Seven Keys (1960-1965), I'll Bet (1965), Beat the Clock (1969-1972), Concentration (1973-1978), and Now You See It (1974-1975). His last hosting appearance was on the March 5, 1982, episode of Password Plus.
Frank Cooper would never do another game show after Dotto, which was his longest-running game and his only one for CBS. His previous gaming efforts did not fare as well – his first game, an NBC show called Guess What Happened? (dropping the "Guess" after the first show), bombed after three episodes in 1952. Droodles, starring Roger Price, ran for three months in 1954 while ABC's Keep It In The Family ran for four months from 1957-1958.
Connie Hines was revealed to have been coached for her Dotto appearance but not given questions and answers in advance. She enjoyed a five-year run as Carol Post on Mister Ed and, after a few subsequent television guest roles, retired from acting entirely.
Marie Winn eventually became a journalist whose books include The Plug-In Drug, a scathing critique on television's influence over children. The book became somewhat controversial for its author having been circumspect about her role in one of the medium's greatest scandals.
Ed Hilgemeier and Yaffe Kimball-Slatin effectively disappeared into obscurity.
Some articles about the quiz show scandals suggested a revival was planned for 2000, but this never materialized.
It is only in 2013 that RTBF revives the game in digitalized form.
Dotto was also hugely successful in the United Kingdom, where it ran on ITV from September 13, 1958 to June 23, 1960. This version was first hosted by Robert Gladwell, followed by Jimmy Hanley and then Shaw Taylor.
Although the series was presumably intact in 1958 (see above), the series is believed to have been destroyed sometime afterward as per network practices (and possibly by Colgate's insistence).
Two episodes are known to exist – a daytime episode from May 20 featuring Marie Winn's victory over Yaffe Kimball-Slatin (which was subject to the rigging controversy, see above), and the third-to-last nighttime episode from July 29 featuring Connie Hines.
- Hevesi, Dennis. "Jack Narz, 85, Genial Host of Television Game Shows, Dies", The New York Times, October 16, 2008. Accessed October 17, 2008.
- UK Game Shows: Dotto
- Joseph Stone with Tim Yohn, Prime Time and Misdemeanors (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press)
- Robert Metz, CBS: Reflections in a Bloodshot Eye (Chicago: Playboy Press, 1975)