|Created by||Al Schwartz & "Snag" Werris|
|Presented by||Jack Narz|
|Narrated by||Ralph Paul|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||30 Minutes|
|Original network||CBS (daytime)
|Original release||January 6 – August 15, 1958|
Dotto is an American television game show that was a combination of a general knowledge quiz and the children's game connect the dots. Jack Narz served as the program's host, with Colgate-Palmolive as its presenting sponsor.
Dotto premiered on January 6, 1958 as part of CBS' daytime lineup. Due to its popularity, an accompanying weekly nighttime edition was launched on July 1, 1958 and, in a change of pace, was carried by CBS' competitor NBC on Tuesday nights. However, at the height of both shows' popularity, Dotto was revealed to have been fixed by its producer and the news resulted in both series being cancelled during the week of August 11–15, 1958.
Two contestants, one a returning champion, competed in each game.
The object of the game was to identify the subject of a portrait. The portrait, however, was incomplete and in order to finish the portrait the players had to connect a series of fifty dots drawn into the picture. Each player saw the same portrait, but they had their own set of dots to connect and both players were seated in a manner where they could not see each other or the other player's progress. There was also an overhead projector called a "Dottograph" within walking distance of both players.
In order to connect the dots, both players were asked a series of questions. Each question had a value of dots attached, with the players able to choose five, eight, or ten dots. A specific category was in play for both players in a round of questioning, and play always started with the challenger. If the contestant answered correctly, the corresponding amount of dots was connected one at a time on his/her portrait. Answering incorrectly or running out of time meant the opposing player got to have the dots connected on their portrait. Once a player had twenty-five of the dots connected, a clue was given as to the subject's identity. Another clue required ten additional dots to be connected, and ten more after that unlocked a final clue.
Once a contestant thought there was enough information to identify the subject, he/she would press a signaling device to indicate so. He/she would then walk over to the Dottograph and record a guess by writing it on its projector screen. The Dottograph was situated on stage in such a manner that only Narz and the contestant standing at it could see what was displayed on the screen.
Once the contestant's guess was recorded, one of the following things would happen.
- If the contestant correctly identified the subject, the opposing player was given one chance to try and do so based on the dots they managed to connect in their own picture.
- If the opponent also identified the subject, the game was considered a tie and a new picture was played.
- If the opponent did not do so, the game was over and the first player became champion.
- If the contestant did not identify the subject correctly, he/she automatically lost the game and the opponent became champion.
The winning player won money for each unconnected dot left on his/her picture, and the amount increased for each tie up to two. On the daytime series, the payout was $10 per dot and it doubled for each tie up to a maximum of $40. On the nighttime series, the payout was $100 per dot and increased by that amount for each tie, resulting in a maximum of $300 per dot.
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 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, one of which was against a woman named Yaffe Kimball. 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 (who later married and became Yaffe Kimball-Slatin) to keep quiet about the notebook and the fixing of the show. In August 1958, with the nighttime Dotto looking like a surefire hit, executives from both networks carrying the series met with its creator, Frank Cooper, concerning the potential rigging of the show. Cooper admitted that the show was indeed fixed. With this now out in the open, both CBS, NBC, and the sponsor decided to cancel Dotto immediately. The final NBC nighttime episode aired on August 12, 1958 and the CBS daytime series came to an end 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.
Although it was not the first show to be involved in some wrongdoing, Dotto was the first game show to have such wrongdoing verified. A year earlier, Twenty One contestant Herb Stempel told the New York Journal-American and a Congressional committee that his run as champion on the series had been choreographed and that he had been ordered to purposely lose his championship to Charles Van Doren. Initially dismissed as jealousy by the committee, Stempel's statements gained more credibility once the match fixing at Dotto was publicized, and the quiz show scandal investigations began soon after.
Dotto host Jack Narz continued to work as a game show host for most of the next twenty years after the series ended. After Top Dollar ended, Narz hosted the first season of Video Village in 1960. He left that series to host Seven Keys, which he hosted until January 1965 on both national television and local station KTLA in Los Angeles. After hosting I'll Bet in 1965, Narz began an association with Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions that lasted the remainder of his career. He hosted a revival of Beat the Clock in syndication from 1969 until 1972 and followed that up with his longest-tenured hosting job, spending five seasons (from 1973 to 1978) as host of the syndicated Concentration. Narz also hosted the first edition of Now You See It, which ran from 1974-75. However, Narz did not have a regular hosting position after Concentration left the air in 1978, and his last hosting duty of any kind was on Password Plus, where his brother and fellow host Tom Kennedy traded places with him on the March 5, 1982 edition of the program; Narz had been a celebrity guest for the week along with Steven Ford.
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 unlike Marie Winn, she was 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.
It was only in 2013 that RTBF revived the game in digitized form.
In 2014, it was announced that a revival of Dotto for French Television is in the works (entitled Fizzio).
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.
- Global, Hubert rework Dotto
- 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)