Bud Collyer

Bud Collyer (born Clayton Johnson Heermance Jr., June 18, 1908 – September 8, 1969) was an American radio actor/announcer who became one of the nation's first major television game show stars. He is best remembered for his work as the first host of the TV game shows Beat the Clock and To Tell the Truth, but he was also famous in the roles of Clark Kent/Superman on radio and in animated cartoons, initially in theatrical short subjects and later on television.

Bud Collyer
Bud Collyer 1962
Collyer in 1962.
Clayton Johnson Heermance, Jr.

June 18, 1908
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
DiedSeptember 8, 1969 (aged 61)
Alma materWilliams College
OccupationRadio Announcer/Game Show Host
Years active1940–1969
Spouse(s)Heloise Law Green (1936–1951) (divorced) 3 children
Marian Shockley (1952–1969; his death)

Early life and career

Collyer was born in Manhattan, to Clayton Johnson Heermance and Caroline Collyer. He originally sought a career in law, attending Williams College where he was a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity,[1] and Fordham University law school.[2] Though he became a law clerk after his graduation, making as much in a month of radio as he did in a year of clerking convinced him to make broadcasting his career, changing his surname and becoming a familiar voice on all three major radio networks by 1940.

He held starring or major supporting roles in The Man I Married (as Adam Waring);[3] Kate Hopkins, Angel of Mercy (as Tom);[4] Pretty Kitty Kelly (as Michael Conway);[5] Terry and the Pirates (as Pat Ryan); Renfrew of the Mounted (as Renfrew); and Abie's Irish Rose (as Abie Levy). He also was the announcer for a number of radio soap operas, including The Guiding Light and The Goldbergs.


Collyer's best-remembered radio starring role began in early 1940 in The Adventures of Superman on the Mutual Broadcasting System, a role he also performed in the subsequent Superman cartoons. Collyer supplied the voices of both Superman and his alter ego Clark Kent, opposite radio actress Joan Alexander as Lois Lane. Every Superman episode featured a scene in which Clark Kent changed into his Superman costume, an effect which Collyer conveyed by shifting voices while speaking the phrase "This is (or "looks like") a job for Superman!" his voice always dropping when becoming Superman.

Game-show hosting

Collyer got his first helping of game shows when he co-hosted ABC's (the former NBC Blue network) Break the Bank with future Miss America Pageant mainstay Bert Parks; and, when he was picked to host the radio original of the Mark Goodson-Bill Todman team's first game, Winner Take All. Collyer went on to host the television versions of both shows. (Winner Take All became, in due course, the first hosting seat for another game show titan, Bill Cullen.)

Beat the Clock

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 Collyer and his famous sign-off: "Next time may be your time to beat the clock."

To Tell the Truth

In 1956, 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?" Two Bob 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.

Other work

Bud Collyer Feather Your Nest 1956
Collyer as the host of Feather Your Nest in 1956.

Collyer's other game show hosting included the DuMont game shows Talent Jackpot (1949) and On Your Way (1953–1954), the short-lived (two years) game show Feather Your Nest, and the ABC game Number Please in 1961, which replaced Beat the Clock on the Monday after the final ABC episode.

On September 24, 1957, Collyer was among the guests on To Tell the Truth panelist Polly Bergen's premiere episode of her short-lived NBC comedy/variety show, The Polly Bergen Show.

The Superman connection

In 1966, Collyer reprised his role as the voice of Superman in the Filmation animated television series The New Adventures of Superman, reuniting him with radio vis-à-vis Joan Alexander.

The Beat The Clock revival

In 1969, Beat The Clock was brought back for a new syndicated run; the host chosen for the show was Jack Narz. One legend holds that Narz was flying to New York to host the first tapings of the show, and none other than Collyer himself sat next to Narz on the flight. Narz was nervous and did not know what to expect, but was pleased to find Collyer as generous and kind as he appeared on television. Collyer wished him luck and opined that his run would be as long as the original, and before the week was done, handwritten notes for every member of the crew who had worked on the original series arrived from Collyer, wishing them all luck. (Collyer's written replies to fan mail were often in longhand.)


During his 1950s heyday with Beat The Clock and To Tell The Truth, he was a leader in an overtly anti-Communist faction of the New York chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. That faction supported such publications as Red Channels (the famous list of 151 reputed Communists or reputed fellow travelers, as the term was then, in radio and television) and interest groups that shared the authors' politics—groups like AWARE, Inc. (co-founded, in fact, by the man who wrote Red Channels' introduction), purporting to screen broadcast performers for actual or alleged Communist ties, pressuring networks and advertisers to shun them under threat of boycott.

An opposing faction, led by CBS radio personality John Henry Faulk and Orson Bean, defeated Collyer's faction in an election to run the New York union.

Spirituality and charity

Religion and charitable work were very important to Bud Collyer, and he was always particularly pleased to hear contestants say that they considered donating portions of their winnings to the church, or that they planned to donate to charities. He would often include "God bless you" in his parting words to contestants. He was always particularly happy to have a contestant that was a minister on the show and would ask about his congregation. On Beat The Clock, he often delivered public service messages about such charitable causes as the March of Dimes and other drives for research of diseases.

Collyer taught a Sunday school class at his Presbyterian church in Connecticut for more than thirty-five years and spent some of his off time as a caretaker at his church. According to one story, a parishioner called the church one Sunday during a particularly heavy snowstorm to inquire if the church would have services that day. "Oh yes," Collyer replied, tongue in cheek, "God and I are here." Collyer was known to have contributed to various Christian religious works, including authoring at least one religious book and making a recording of the New Testament of the Good News Bible. He wrote two inspirational books, Thou Shalt Not Fear (1962) and With the Whole Heart (1966).

Bud Collyer grave 800
Bud Collyer's grave
Clayton Collyer footstone 800
His footstone


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.[6] Collyer declined, citing poor health.[6] 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."[6] Collyer died at age 61 from a circulatory ailment in Greenwich, Connecticut, on the same day the new To Tell The Truth premiered in daytime syndication.[2]

At the time of his death, he was married to 1930s movie actress Marian Shockley, and was survived by her as well as his three children from his marriage to Heloise Law Green. In January 1957, his son Mike appeared as a challenger on To Tell the Truth, under the name of "Pat Rizzuto".[7] His brother, Richard V. "Dick" Heermance, film editor and producer, also appeared as a contestant on Truth as himself on October 14, 1958[8]. Two of the panelists voted for him, even though he looked nothing like his brother.

Bud Collyer is interred at Putnam Cemetery in Greenwich. In 1985, he was posthumously named as one of the honorees by DC Comics in the company's 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great.[9]


Collyer was the brother of film actress June Collyer.[5] He had two daughters, Cynthia and Pat, and a son, Michael, who died in 2004.[10]


  1. ^ As listed in The Diamond, Psi Upsilon's national magazine
  2. ^ a b "Bud Collyer Dies; Host Of TV Shows; Ran 'Beat the Clock,' 'To Tell the Truth,' 'Break the Bank'", The New York Times (September 9, 1969)
  3. ^ "'The Man I Married'-New WHP Daytime Serial Starts Monday". Harrisburg Telegraph. July 19, 1941. p. 26. Retrieved October 8, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  4. ^ "(photo caption)" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror. 14 (3): 18. July 1940. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Monday's Highlights" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror. 13 (4): 43. February 1940. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Soap Opera Digest: January 1977
  7. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7P_xNtjKOMo
  8. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5wBAXGstTs
  9. ^ Marx, Barry, Cavalieri, Joey and Hill, Thomas (w), Petruccio, Steven (a), Marx, Barry (ed). "Bud Collyer Superman Speaks" Fifty Who Made DC Great: 21 (1985), DC Comics
  10. ^ “Michael Collyer Passes Away Attorney, Longtime NATAS Fixture.” Television Academy, www.emmys.com/news/michael-collyer-passes-away-attorney-longtime-natas-fixture.

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Position inaugurated
Host of Beat the Clock
Succeeded by
Jack Narz in 1969
Preceded by
Position inaugurated
Host of To Tell the Truth
Succeeded by
Garry Moore
11th Tony Awards

The 11th Annual Tony Awards took place at the Waldorf-Astoria Grand Ballroom on April 21, 1957. The Master of Ceremonies was Bud Collyer.

12th Tony Awards

The 12th Annual Tony Awards took place at the Waldorf-Astoria Grand Ballroom on April 13, 1958. Bud Collyer was the Master of Ceremonies. For the second year the program was not telecast, due to a strike against WCBS-TV.

13th Tony Awards

The 13th Annual Tony Awards took place at the Waldorf-Astoria Grand Ballroom on April 12, 1959, and was broadcast on local television station WCBS-TV in New York City. The Master of Ceremonies was Bud Collyer.

Break the Bank (1945 game show)

Break the Bank is an American quiz show which aired variously on Mutual Radio and ABC, CBS and NBC television from 1945 to 1957. From October 1956 to January 1957, NBC Television aired a short-lived prime-time version called Break the $250,000 Bank.

Hy Gardner

Hy Gardner (December 2, 1908 – June 17, 1989) was an American entertainment reporter and syndicated columnist for the New York Herald Tribune, host of Hy Gardner Calling, The Hy Gardner Show, and Celebrity Party, and an original celebrity panelist on the first incarnation of To Tell The Truth, along with Ralph Bellamy, Polly Bergen, Kitty Carlisle and host Bud Collyer. In 1957, Gardner also appeared on the show made up as a clown along with guest-challenger (famous clown) Paul Jung. Gardner also played himself in the 1963 movie The Girl Hunters with writer/friend Mickey Spillane, who included Gardner in several of his Mike Hammer novels.

John A. Wilson (Egyptologist)

John Albert Wilson (September 12, 1899 – August 30, 1976) was an American Egyptologist who was the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago.

After graduating from Princeton University in 1920 he taught English at the American University in Beirut. There he met faculty member Harold H. Nelson who introduced him to hieroglyphics and in 1923 to the famous Egyptologist James Henry Breasted. He was offered by Breasted a fellowship at the Oriental Institute, where he earned his doctorate in 1926.He was sent to Luxor by Breasted as an epigrapher and after further study in Munich and Berlin he returned to Chicago and was appointed associate professor of Egyptology at the University of Chicago in 1931. He succeeded Breasted as director of the Oriental Institute when he died in 1936. He continued as Director until 1946 after leading the Institute through a difficult financial period. He was honored by being named Distinguished Service Professor in 1953.

With the building of the Aswan Dam he was appointed as the American representative and eventually became the chairman of the UNESCO Consultative Committee for the Salvage of the Nubian Monuments.He had many honors conferred upon him by various universities and societies including: D. Lii. by Princeton (1961), D.H.L by Loyola University of Chicago, elected as a corresponding member of the German Archaeological Society (1954), a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1968) and corresponding member of the Institut d'Egypte (1969). Through a benefactor the John A. Wilson Professorship of Oriental Studies was inaugurated in 1968. On his seventieth birthday former students and colleagues presented him with a book Studies in Honor of John A. Wilson (1969). In 1963, he appeared on the game show To Tell the Truth. Much of the questioning focused on plans to preserve the Abu Simbel temples from the flooding that would occur with the completion of the Aswan High Dam. According to host Bud Collyer, Wilson donated his winnings ($250) to the American Committee for Preservation of the Nubian Monuments.

Kitty Foyle (radio and TV series)

Kitty Foyle is an American old-time radio and television soap opera originally aired during the 1940s and 1950s that was based on the successful 1940 film of the same name starring Ginger Rogers. Kitty Foyle was created by soap opera mogul Irna Phillips of Guiding Light fame and produced by daytime radio monarchs Frank and Anne Hummert of Helen Trent recognition. The program starred originally Julie Stevens in the title role of Kitty Foyle on radio. On television, the title role was portrayed by Kathleen Murray.

Each episode primarily focused on Foyle's ongoing relationship with a doctor in the neighborhood, (played on radio by Bud Collyer and on television by William Redfield), and the relationship between her and her father. Each episode also usually involved a flashback and was set in Philadelphia.The radio version of Kitty Foyle ran on NBC's daytime schedule from October 5, 1942–June 9, 1944. NBC Television aired the show during the afternoons from January 13–June 13, 1958.

Marian Shockley

Marian Shockley (also Marian Shockley Collyer) (October 10, 1911 – December 14, 1981) was an American film actress of the 1930s.

Number Please

for the Harold Lloyd short comedy film see Number, Please?Number Please is a Goodson-Todman Productions game show hosted by Bud Collyer which aired at 12:30 p.m. weekdays on ABC from January 30 to December 29, 1961. It replaced Collyer's Beat the Clock when that series ended its run on ABC. Number Please was an early predecessor of Wheel of Fortune and other word-puzzle programs.

Penny to a Million

Penny to a Million was a primetime American television game show (at the time more commonly called a "quiz show") that aired on ABC from May 4 to October 19, 1955 on Wednesday nights, for alternating sponsors (Brown & Williamson's Raleigh cigarettes, and W.A. Sheaffer Pen Company). The pilot was hosted by Bud Collyer, but was replaced by Bill Goodwin when it became a series.

Ray Barbuti

Raymond James Barbuti (June 12, 1905 – July 8, 1988) was an American football player and sprint runner who won two gold medals at the 1928 Summer Olympics.

In 1924 while playing fullback at Lawrence, Long Island, New York high school, Barbuti set a New York state record, which still stands (2013), scoring eight touchdowns in one game. He attended Syracuse University where he won the IC4A championship in the 400 m sprint in 1928 in a time of 48.8 seconds. The same year he won the AAU Championship in the 400 m dash in a time of 51.4. He played fullback on the Syracuse football teams of 1926, 1927, and 1928 and was the captain of both the football and athletics teams.

His trainer, Peter Poole, very seldom let him run his two preferred distances, the 200 yd and the 400 yd, in the same competition, so Barbuti chose the 400 m and 4 × 400 m at the 1928 Summer Olympics and won both, setting a world record in the relay at 3:14.2. Next week he set another world record, at 3:13.4 in the 4×440 yd relay in London in a match against Great Britain.

During World War II Barbuti served with the US Air Force in the 83rd Bombardment Squadron which was part of the 12th Bombardment Group also known as the Earthquakers. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Bronze Star. While stationed in Gambut, Libya, Barbuti helped to organize the Western Desert Track and Field Championships. The competition was between the 12th Bombardment's track men, members of the RAF, and Australian troops. With Barbuti's talent on the track as a runner and as a coach, the men of the 12th won 1st place in 8 out of 11 events. He retired in the rank of major and became deputy director of the Civil Defense Commission for New York State and director of the New York State Office of Disaster Preparedness. In his spare time he acted as a referee in more than 500 intercollegiate football games.

On December 24, 1957, Barbuti appeared as a "contestant imposter" on the game show To Tell the Truth. This episode is still in existence and was most recently aired by GSN on January 20, 2009. The host was Bud Collyer and the panel consisted of Betsy Palmer, Don Ameche, Kitty Carlisle and Hy Gardner.

Richard Heermance

Richard Heermance (1910–1971), sometimes credited as Richard V. Heermance, was an American film producer and film editor. In one round of the October 14, 1958 edition of the television game show To Tell The Truth, he appeared as one of 'three challengers (correctly) claiming to be' the brother of its popular host, actor Bud Collyer. Actress June Collyer was his sister.

Roxanne (model)

Roxanne (born Dolores Rosedale, March 20, 1928) is an American former model and actress. She was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was the blonde assistant on the Bud Collyer-hosted original version of the Goodson-Todman Productions game show Beat the Clock. Roxanne was replaced by Beverly Bentley in August 1955. She gave birth to her daughter Ann in December 1955. Roxanne did not use a surname in her professional work.

Roxanne had a doll fashioned after her which was called, naturally, The Roxanne Doll. It was a hard plastic doll which stood 18 inches (46 cm) tall. It had movable legs which allowed the doll to "walk". They were manufactured circa 1953 by the Valentine Company. The blue-eyed doll had a Beat the Clock tag on the doll's wrist and came with a miniature red camera. Roxanne would give these dolls to the contestants' daughters on Beat the Clock.

Roxanne also appeared in a small role in Billy Wilder's The Seven Year Itch (1954). As of February 2015, Roxanne was living in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Superman curse

The Superman curse refers to a series of supposedly related misfortunes that have plagued creative people involved in adaptations of Superman in various media, particularly actors who have played the role of Superman on film and television. The "curse" is frequently associated with George Reeves, who starred in Adventures of Superman on television from 1952 to 1958, and died of a gunshot wound at age 45 under disputed circumstances (officially ruled a suicide); and Christopher Reeve, who played the superhero in four theatrical films from 1978 to 1987, was paralyzed in a 1995 horseback riding accident, and died nine years later at age 52 from heart failure.The curse is often invoked whenever misfortune is experienced by actors and other personnel who work on Superman adaptations, so much so that some talent agents cite the curse as the reason for the difficulty in casting actors in the role in live-action feature films.A more prosaic explanation for the alleged 'curse' is that given the high number of people involved in the many adaptations and treatments of the Superman story over the years, a number of significant misfortunes would inevitably occur, as they would do in any substantial sampling of random individuals.

Talent Jackpot

Talent Jackpot was an American game show broadcast on the DuMont Television Network from July 13 to August 23, 1949. The show was hosted by Broadway producer Vinton Freedley (1891-1969) with Bud Collyer as his assistant and announcer. Contestants won by getting the most applause from the audience, and the top prize was $250.

Terry and the Pirates (radio serial)

Terry and the Pirates was a radio serial adapted from the comic strip of the same name created in 1934 by Milton Caniff. With storylines of action, high adventure and foreign intrigue, the popular radio series entralled listeners from 1937 through 1948. With scripts by Albert Barker, George Lowther and others, the program's directors included Cyril Armbrister, Wylie Adams, and Marty Andrews.

The central character, Terry Lee, was portrayed at various times by Jackie Kelk, Cliff Carpenter, Owen Jordan, and Bill Fein. Terry's buddy Pat Ryan was played by Bud Collyer, Warner Anderson, Bob Griffin, and Larry Alexander. Others in Terry's Far East entourage were Flip Corkin (Ted de Corsia), Elita (Gerta Rozan), Burma (Frances Chaney), Hotshot Charlie (Cameron Andrews) and Connie the coolie (Cliff Norton, John Gibson, Peter Donald). Throughout the Orient, they encountered plenty of evildoers, including the Dragon Lady (Agnes Moorehead, Adelaide Klein, Marion Sweet, Mina Reaume), in such adventurous episodes as "Pirate Gold Detector Ring," "Deadly Current," "The Mechanical Eye" and "The Dragon Lady Strikes Back."

The Adventures of Superman (radio series)

The Adventures of Superman is a long-running radio serial that originally aired from 1940 to 1951 featuring the DC Comics character Superman.

The serial came to radio as a syndicated show on New York City's WOR on February 12, 1940. On Mutual, it was broadcast from August 31, 1942, to February 4, 1949, as a 15-minute serial, running three or, usually, five times a week. From February 7 to June 24, 1949, it ran as a thrice-weekly half-hour show. The series shifted to ABC Saturday evenings on October 29, 1949, and then returned to afternoons twice a week on June 5, 1950, continuing on ABC until March 1, 1951. In all, 2,088 original episodes of The Adventures of Superman aired on American radio.

The Batman/Superman Hour

The Batman/Superman Hour is a Filmation animated series that was broadcast on CBS from 1968 to 1969. Premiering on September 14, 1968, this 60-minute program featured new adventures of the DC Comics superheroes Batman, Robin and Batgirl alongside shorts from The New Adventures of Superman and The Adventures of Superboy.

Young Widder Brown

Young Widder Brown was a daytime radio drama series broadcast on NBC from 1938 to 1956. Sponsored by Sterling Drugs and Bayer Aspirin, it daily examined the life of "attractive Ellen Brown, with two fatherless children to support."

The convoluted storyline focused on the efforts of Ellen, in her early thirties, to bring up her two children in the small town of Simpsonville, West Virginia, where she supported herself by running a tearoom, despite continual tragedies in her life. (Another source refers to Simpsonville as "a small Midwestern town.")Produced by Frank and Anne Hummert, this soap opera series opened with the theme music "In the Gloaming" as rendered by organist John Winters. Heard in the title role during the 18-year run were Florence Freeman (1938–54) and Wendy Drew (1954–56). Ellen Brown was romanced by Peter Turner (Bud Collyer) and Anthony Loring (Ned Wever). Ellen's children were Janey (Marilyn Erskine) and Mark (Tommy Donnelly).

Directors for the series included Martha Atwell, Richard Leonard and Ed Slattery. The announcer was George Ansbro.

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