Mr. Bill is a clay figurine clown star of a parody of children's claymation shows, created by Walter Williams. Mr. Bill got its start on Saturday Night Live as a series Super 8 film sent in response to the show's request for home movies during the first season. Mr. Bill's first appearance occurred on the February 28, 1976, episode. After five submitted films, Williams became a full-time writer for the show in 1978, and would ultimately write more than 20 sketches based on Mr. Bill.
Each Mr. Bill episode would start innocently enough but would quickly turn dangerous for Mr. Bill. Along with his dog, Spot, he would suffer various indignities inflicted by "Mr. Hands," a man seen only as a pair of hands (originally performed by Vance DeGeneres).
Sometimes the abuse would ostensibly come from the mean Sluggo, another clay character. The violence would inevitably escalate, generally ending with Mr. Bill being crushed or dismembered while squealing in a high-pitched voice, "Ohhhh noooooooooooooo...". The concept for Mr. Hands came from Williams' observation that children's cartoons in the 70s were so static, he expected the artist's hands to enter the screen at any moment and physically start moving the drawings around.
Initial Saturday Night Live sketches featuring Mr. Bill were self-contained episodes with no direct continuity, with the earliest installments featuring higher-pitched character voices. After Walter Williams joined SNL's writing staff in 1978, Mr. Bill formally moved to New York at the start of the season. Later sketches saw Mr. Bill become aware of Mr. Hands and Sluggo's mistreatment, with the 1979–80 season harboring an extended story arc where Mr. Bill lost his home, sought psychiatric help, attempted to get Mr Hands and Sluggo arrested, and was ultimately thrown into prison.
Though Williams left Saturday Night Live after that season, Mr. Bill returned for a Christmas short film in December 1980, as well as the sixth-season finale, where guest Chevy Chase found Mr. Bill in a garbage can. The last Mr. Bill sketch on SNL aired early in the 1981–1982 season, where Mr. Bill moved to Los Angeles. After SNL, Mr. Bill has subsequently appeared on numerous other television programs and advertisements, including regular new sketches on the USA Network series Night Flight in the 1980s.
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- Mr. Bill – The star of the show. His catchphrase is, "Oh, no!!!"
- Spot – Mr. Bill's dog, who dies in most episodes.
- Sluggo – The main villain.
- Mr. Hands – A pair of human hands (originally played by Vance DeGeneres), which subject Mr. Bill to abuse, often at Sluggo's prompting. Mr. Hands also serves as the narrator of the show.
- Miss Sally – Mr. Bill's girlfriend, introduced in October 1979.
- Mr. Bill's Mom – Introduced in January 1979, primarily seen in flashbacks.
- Billy – Mr. Bill and Miss Sally's son, who appears in some post-SNL shorts.
- Sluggo clones – duplicates of Sluggo, often seen in crowd shots.
List of SNL episodes featured
- February 28, 1976 (The Mr. Bill Holiday Special)
- October 16, 1976 (Mr. Bill Goes To A Party)
- January 22, 1977 (Mr. Bill Goes To A Magic Show)
- March 25, 1978 (Mr. Bill Goes To The Circus)
- April 8, 1978 (Mr. Bill Pays His Taxes)
- October 14, 1978 (Mr. Bill Goes To New York)
- October 21, 1978 (Mr. Bill Moves In)
- November 18, 1978 (Mr. Bill Goes Fishing)
- December 2, 1978 (Mr. Bill Is Late)
- January 27, 1979 (Mr. Bill Goes To Court)
- February 24, 1979 (Mr. Bill Shapes Up)
- March 17, 1979 (Mr. Bill Is Hiding)
- May 12, 1979 (Mr. Bill Runs Away)
- May 19, 1979 (Mr. Bill Goes To The Movies)
- May 26, 1979 (Mr. Bill Visits Saturday Night Live; cold open)
- October 13, 1979 (The All-New Mr. Bill Show)
- November 3, 1979 (Mr. Bill Stays Home)
- November 17, 1979 (Mr. Bill Builds A House)
- January 26, 1980 (Mr. Bill Gets Help)
- April 5, 1980 (Mr. Bill Strikes Back)
- May 10, 1980 (Mr. Bill Gets 20 Years In Sing Sing)
- December 20, 1980 (Mr. Bill's Christmas Special)
- April 11, 1981 (cold open with Chevy Chase)
- October 17, 1981 (Mr. Bill Goes To L.A.; final appearance)
A new Mr. Bill short film entitled Mr. Bill Goes To Washington premiered in theaters in 1993, preceding the movie Ernest Rides Again. The short, which sees Mr. Bill elected as President of the United States, was also featured on the Ernest Rides Again home video release.
Two new Mr. Bill home videos were released in the mid-1990s featuring new content, including 1996's "Ohh Nooo!!! It's Mr. Bill's 20th Anniversary", and 1997 straight-to-video Ho Ho Noooooo!!! It's Mr Bill's Christmas Special!, the latter featuring a guest appearance by former SNL contributor Don Novello as Father Guido Sarducci.
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- In the 1980s, Mr. Bill was featured in advertising spots for Pringles.
- In 1988, Mr. Bill appeared in a series of anti-drug announcements which showed him engaging in various activities until Sluggo would bury him under a bunch of pills, in which the tagline would be "Say OH NO! to drugs".
- In the 1990s, Williams created The Pizza Head Show, a series of Mr. Bill-like advertising spots for Pizza Hut, featuring "Pizza Head" in the usual Mr. Bill role and a pizza cutter named "Steve" in the Sluggo role.
- Mr. Bill appeared[when?] in a Burger King commercial where Mr. Hands tells Mr. Bill that Burger King changed their Whopper. Mr. Bill was upset about the loss of his favorite burger, but Mr. Hands tells him that the new Whopper was bigger than McDonald's Big Mac or Wendy's Single. Mr. Hands sends Mr. Bill into the restaurant and gives him one. Mr. Bill loves the Whopper and asks for another one. Mr. Hands agrees, but he says it's on him and drops the Whopper box onto Mr. Bill, crushing him.
- Beginning in June 2008, MasterCard enlisted Mr. Bill for one of its "Priceless" ads. The commercial starts with Mr. Bill being served coffee by Mr. Hands (coffee: $2). Mr. Hands fills the cup too much causing the coffee to spill all over the floor and Mr. Bill, but Mr. Bill takes it with good nature, saying, "I always wanted brown shoes. Yay!" Next, Mr. Hands tells Mr. Bill at a gym, "Your fitness instructor says to take it up a notch. [gym membership: $59]" He turns the treadmill all the way up and drops Mr. Bill on it, causing him to fly across the gym. Luckily, Mr. Bill lands safely on a stationary bike, where he says, "Hey! There's a bike open!" Next, Mr. Bill is seen in his luxurious office, where Mr. Hands helps him unpack his suitcase (suitcase: $120). When the suitcase opens, it knocks into Mr. Bill, sending him flying out the window. He lands on the windshield of a bus, where he remarks, "Hey, the bus is right on schedule!" He is then knocked off the bus by its windshield wipers as the commercial ends (Getting through the day: Priceless).
- Mr. Bill became one of Subway's spokesmen in December 2008, along with Mr. Hands. In the commercial, Mr. Bill learns how to make bread with Mr. Hands, but suddenly Chef Sluggo comes in to roll the dough. But Sluggo never gets a chance to hurt Mr. Bill, as a boulder comes and crushes the whole Subway restaurant with both characters inside. When Mr. Hands finds Mr. Bill flattened with the dough on the side of the boulder, he says, "Great idea, Mr. Bill! Flatbread!"
- In 2011, Mr. Bill was in a commercial for Wonderful Pistachios.
- Mr. Bill has appeared in a commercial for Ramada Inn
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- Running Press published The Mr. Bill Show book in 1979, featuring a red soundsheet with voices and sound effects from the shorts. The story tells the origin of Mr. Bill in a series of snaps from a photo album (adding that his father was in vaudeville suffering the same indignities that Mr. Bill now suffers, and that he died when Mr. Bill was born, being decapitated in a freak accident). After several assaults are made on him by Sluggo and Mr. Hands during his childhood, Mr. Bill starts to get suspicious and tells Mr. Hands that he does not seem to have been a good friend after all, and gets smashed in the photo album.
- Mr. Bill also made a cameo appearance during the 1981 "Get High On Yourself" NBC-TV anti-drug campaign. Mr. Hands suggests to Mr. Bill that he try getting high on himself. Mr. Bill agrees, and the camera pulls back to reveal that Mr. Bill is lashed to the exterior of a NASA Space Shuttle. As it lifts off, he cries "Oh noooooo...".
- In 1983, Data Age had plans to release a Mr. Bill video game, Mr. Bill's Neighborhood, for the Atari 2600 in April 1983, but the game was cancelled despite being finished. It would have been the first Mr. Bill video game if it had been released. No prototypes or ROMs of the game are known to exist.
- With Comedy Central producing many "We're all going to die" promos[clarification needed] in the early 1990s, Mr. Bill starred in one of them, featuring him in a powder room explaining how making movies can be dangerous, but the real world can be more dangerous, so he reminds us to always be careful. Mr. Hands tells Mr. Bill the crew need him on the set and has to blow dry his hair, resulting in Mr. Bill's entire face melting.
- In 1998, Mr. Bill appeared in Ohh Nooo! Mr. Bill Presents on the Fox Family Channel. As well as featuring typical Mr. Bill-type sketches, other sketches, including Mr. Bean and separately The Baldy Man (Gregor Fisher), were present in the one-hour variety show.
- In 2004, Mr. Bill was part of a campaign aimed at teaching people, especially children, about the loss of Louisiana's coastal marshes and swamps. On May 27, 2004, CNN showed a segment with Mr. Bill being 'evacuated' from a New Orleans roof the year before Hurricane Katrina. "Mr. Bill: Hurricane Sluggo".
- The March 29, 2010, episode of Jeopardy! featured a category called "Mr. Bill Plays the Bard". The category featured the character portraying various Shakespearian characters in CGI vignettes, who, like the sketches, all met their untimely demise.
- On September 23, 2010, an official Mr. Bill iPhone game was launched on Apple's App Store by Capcom.
- The October 22, 2010, episode of the CBS drama Medium, featured Mr. Bill being abused by the show's principal character during the opening dream sequence.[b]
- A segment of "Western Hay Batch", a Season 8 episode of Robot Chicken, shows Mr. Bill finally getting revenge on Mr. Hands and Sluggo. After flattening Mr. Bill with a rolling pin despite being warned not to, Mr. Hands remarks that his clay was not as flexible as usual. Mr. Bill then triumphantly reveals the reason: He is now composed of C-4. Mr. Bill then explodes, vaporizing Sluggo and blasting both of Mr. Hands' hands off.
- "And 'Mr. Bill's Real Life Adventures' is a clunker Showtime special starring Peter Scolari as a real-life version of the ever-clobbered 10-inch clay character of long-ago 'Saturday Night Live' fame."
- "For those of you who weren’t around when Saturday Night Live first started in 1976, Mr. Bill was a clay figurine who was the star of a series of short skits that was meant to be a parody of kiddie shows. He had a high-pitched voice, and usually met some kind of sadistically violent end at the hands of… well, “Mr. Hands”, a pair of human hands (complete with voiceover) that would proceed to squash or dismember Mr. Bill and his little clay friends, eliciting Mr. Bill’s trademark cry, “Ohhh nooooooooo…” Tonight’s ODS seems to be a perfect mimicry of one of those shorts, except that Mr. Hands this time is actually Mrs. Hands (Allison), who tortures Mr. Bill for a minute or so before accidentally spilling boiling water on her left hand."
- Lee, Wendy A. (June 2, 2008). "Mr. Bill Returns (in One Piece) to Pitch a Debit Card". The New York Times. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
- Tropiano, S. (2013). Saturday Night Live FAQ: Everything Left to Know About Television's Longest Running Comedy. Applause. pp. pt270–271. ISBN 978-1-4803-6686-2. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- "Oh Noooooo! It's Mr. Bill's 20th Anniversary (1995)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
- "Ohhhhh, noooooooo! Mr. Bill lives!". UPI.
- Williams, Walter (1998-08-01). The Mr. Bill Show. Philadelphia: Running Pr. ISBN 9780894710858.
- Schuster, H.; Nance, S.; Fherenbach, K. (1992). SNL!: the world of Saturday night live. Pioneer Books. p. 79. ISBN 978-1-55698-322-1. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
- "Whatever Happened To Mr. Bill From SNL?". 96.1 The Eagle. July 10, 2014. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- "SNL Transcripts: Jill Clayburgh: 02/28/76: The Mr. Bill Show". SNL Transcripts Tonight. October 8, 2018. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- Rosenberg, Howard (1986-09-10). "The First Arrivals on the Home Front". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest. p. 1, Calendar section. Retrieved 2015-03-17.
- Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. November 4, 1995. p. 84. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- "Wonderful Pistachios Catapults Get Crackin' 3.0 onto Screens: Angrier! Hairier! Greener!". Business Wire. September 12, 2011. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- InfoWorld. InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. p. 34. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
- "We're All Going to Die Comedy Central commercial with Mr. Bill".
- Terrace, V. (2014). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010, 2d ed. Academic & Nonfiction Books anthology. McFarland. p. 783. ISBN 978-0-7864-8641-0. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
- "J! Archive - Show #5886, aired 2010-03-29". www.j-archive.com.
- "Capcom Mobile Releases Mr. Bill Game for iPhone and iPod touch". marketwired.com. September 23, 2010. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
- Hodges, Patrick. "Medium Watch: Talk To The Hand". CinemaBlend. Retrieved 2015-03-17.