NBC Daytime, November 26, 1956 – September 6, 1963
NBC Primetime, September 23, 1957 – September 6, 1963
ABC Daytime, September 9, 1963 – September 3, 1965
ABC Primetime, September 18, 1963 – September 11, 1964
Run time
30 Minutes
Bill Cullen
Don Pardo 1956-1963
Johnny Gilbert 1963-1965
Hudson Theater, New York City, New York (NBC)
Colonial Theater, New York City, New York (NBC)
Ziegfeld Theatre, New York City, New York (NBC)
Century Theatre, New York City, New York (NBC)
Ritz Theatre, New York City, New York (ABC)

The Price Is Right is the original successful game show based on pricing and values before the equally ultra successful 1972 Reboot on CBS that we all know and love to this day.

Game formatEdit

On the original version of The Price Is Right, four contestants (one a returning champion, the other three chosen from the studio audience) bid on items or ensembles of items in an auction-style format.

A prize was presented for the contestants to bid on with a minimum bid specified. After the opening bid was made, contestants bid on the item in turn with each successive bid a certain amount higher than the previous bid. Instead of increasing their bid, a contestant could freeze their current bid on their turn if he/she believed his/her bid was close enough to win. A later rule added allowed contestants, on their opening bid only, to "underbid" the other bids, but this automatically froze their bid and prevented them from later increasing the original bid. Also, some rounds were one-bid rounds, where only one round of bidding was held, and sometimes the minimum bid and higher bid threshold rules were also waived.

The bidding process continued until a time's up buzzer sounded, at which point each contestant who had not yet "frozen" was given one final bid, or at least three of the contestants had frozen. The fourth contestant was allowed one final bid, unless he/she already had the high bid. Cullen then read the actual retail price of the prize; the contestant whose bid was closest without going over won the item. If everyone overbid, the prize was not won; however, Cullen sometimes had the overbids erased and instructed everyone to give lower bids prior to reading the actual price.

Frequently, a bell rang after the winner was revealed, indicating a bonus prize accompanied the item up for bids. While this was frequently simply an additional prize, a bonus game often accompanied the prize (e.g., a tune-matching game, where a clip of a well-known song was played and the contestant matched it with a face for a cash bonus).

After a set number of rounds (four on the nighttime version, six on the daytime), the contestant who accumulated the most money in cash and prizes became the champion and returned on the next show.

Celebrity ContestantsEdit

During the ABC run of the show, Celebrities came on as contestants and played against the three civilian contestants (one a returning champion) while trying to win prizes for a home viewer or studio audience member.

Even if they win the game, celebrities can only play for one day/night although they can come back for a future appearance. So if the celebrity did manage to win the most, then the contestant with the highest total of all the civilians came back as the champion.

Home Viewer "Showcases"Edit

The Price Is Right frequently featured a home viewer "Showcase," a multi-prize package for which home viewers were invited to submit their bids via postcard. The viewer who was closest to the actual retail price without going over won everything in the Showcase, but one item was sometimes handmade so the viewer could not check the price of all the items. The term "Showcase" would, in time, be replaced by "sweepstakes."

Very often, home viewers were stunningly accurate with their bids, including several viewers who guessed the price correct down to the penny. In such a case, the tied contestants were informed and asked to give the price of a stated item; this continued until one of the contestants broke the tie (re-ties and all-overbids were thrown out).

The Showcases remain in today's CBS version (including the phrase "This Showcase can be yours if The Price is Right"), while Home Viewer Showcases were done for a time in the 1980s (including to-the-penny guesses).


While many of the prizes on the original Price Is Right were normal, standard game show fare (e.g., furniture, appliances, home electronics, furs, trips and cars), there were many instances of outlandish prizes being offered. This was particularly true of the nighttime version, which had a larger prize budget.

Some examples:

  • A 1926 Rolls-Royce with chauffeur
  • A Ferris wheel
  • Shares of corporate stock
  • An island in the St. Lawrence Seaway

Sometimes, large amounts of food (such as a mile of hot dogs along with buns and enough condiments (perhaps to go with a barbecue pit)) were offered as the bonus.

Some other examples of outlandish or "exceptionally unique" bonus prizes:

  • Accompanying a color TV, a live peacock (a play on the NBC logo) to serve as a "color guide."
  • Accompanying a barbecue pit and the usual accessories, a live Angus steer.
  • Accompanying a prize package of items needed to throw a backyard party, big band legend Woody Herman and His Orchestra.
  • Accompanying a raccoon coat worth $29.95, a sable coat valued at $23,000.
  • A bonus prize of a 16x32' in-ground swimming pool, installed in the winner's back yard in one day's time.
  • A bonus prize of a trip to Israel to appear as an extra in the 1960 film Exodus. (Both offered on the January 13, 1960 airing.)

In the early 1960s, the dynamic of the national economy was such that the nighttime show could offer homes in new subdivisions (sometimes fully furnished) as prizes, sometimes with truly suspenseful bidding among the contestants.

In the last two seasons of the nighttime run, the series gave away small business franchises (like a take-out fried chicken establishment or a mobile dry-cleaning operation).

In some events, the outlandish prizes were merely for show; for instance, contestants may bid on the original retail price for a 1920's car, but would instead win a more contemporary model.



This was Bill Cullen's longest running game show.

The tote machines were provided by The American Totalizer Company.

In Popular CultureEdit

The Price is Right (1956) has been spoofed, referenced or parodied in the following:

  • The Flintstones: Divided We Sail (1962) (TV Episode) - spoofed as The Prize is Priced.

International VersionsEdit

Main Article: The Price is Right/International


Lowell (1958)Edit

A board game based on the original 1956-1964 version was released in 1958.

Milton Bradley (1964)Edit

Promo AdEdit

Another version was released in 1964 as a card game.

Clip of the game from the show itselfEdit

1960's Original The Price is Right Bid It Right home board game

1960's Original The Price is Right Bid It Right home board game


Main Article: The Price is Right/Photos

Episode StatusEdit

See AlsoEdit

The Price is Right (1972)
The Price is Right (1985)
The Price is Right (1994)
Road to Price
Rich Fields Gone Wild
The Price is Right Male Model Search
Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much


The Price is Right (February 1957)

The Price is Right (February 1957)

The Price Is Right 1-13-60

The Price Is Right 1-13-60

The Price is Right - Arlene Francis hosts-1

The Price is Right - Arlene Francis hosts-1



The Price is Right - NBC Finale

The Price is Right - NBC Finale

Price Is Right ABC promo

Price Is Right ABC promo


The Price is Right @ Game Show Utopia