Barney McNulty

Dialogue Technician - Inventor of Television Cue Cards


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly three-hour interview, "Cue Card King" Barney McNulty (1923-2000) recounts his early years and his first big break -- working for The Ed Wynn Show. He recalls creating the concept of cue cards for Wynn, who was getting on in age and having trouble remembering lines. He discusses his cue card work on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, I Love Lucy, The Frank Sinatra Show, The Alan Young Show, Amos 'N' Andy, Queen For a Day, and The Carol Burnett Show, among many others. He details his processes for creating cue cards and for working with actors to look natural while reading the cards, and talks about his company, Ad-Libs. McNulty also fondly recalls the pleasure of working with Bob Hope for over 40 years and touring with Hope and his USO shows. Karen Herman conducted the interview in North Hollywood, CA on December 9, 1997.

"I was instructed sometimes to hide the cards from censors, to not let them see the script, because, shall we say, some people were going to skirt around the issue, the edges of these things."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Barney McNulty on the logistics of his weekly duties writing cue cards for several CBS shows, including The Ed Wynn Show
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Amos 'N' Andy
Barney McNulty on a bomb going off near him when he was with Bob Hope's USO show
Barney McNulty on the legacy of Bob Hope
Barney McNulty on the physical aspects of cue cards
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on listening to the radio as a kid and on trying out to be on various radio shows; on what he wanted to be when he grew up; on his experience of World War II
On attending UCLA; on seeing television for the first time at the 1939 World's Fair; on getting into theater; on being hired by CBS radio as an usher; on early talk about television on CBS

Chapter 2

On how he became involved with The Ed Wynn Show; on the format of The Ed Wynn Show; on a typical workweek writing cue cards for The Ed Wynn Show, and on working on The George Gobel Show
On the logistics of his weekly duties writing cue cards for several CBS shows, including The Ed Wynn Show; on CBS and The Ed Wynn Show in the early days of television
On the studio of The Ed Wynn Show; on where he was positioned in the studio with his cue cards for The Ed Wynn Show and on his other duties; on the end of The Ed Wynn Show

Chapter 3

On the physical aspects of cue cards; on the logistics of writing out cue cards and on working with performers; on dealing with emergency situations with cue cards
On perfecting his cue card system over the years; on his competition; on dealing with shadows from cue cards and on getting actors to not look like they're looking at the cards; on using shorthand on the cue cards or using key words
On how he got his cue card assignments and on his cue card company Ad-Libs; on doing cue cards for The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show

Chapter 4

On doing cue cards for I Love Lucy for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz; on doing cue cards for The Frank Sinatra Show and on working with a teleprompter; on doing cue cards for Jack Webb on Dragnet and other shows
On working with Bob Hope on his TV specials; on Bob Hope's management style and how he worked with his writers; on doing cue cards for Bob Hope's USO specials

Chapter 5

On doing cue cards and other duties for Bob Hope's USO Specials; on how Bob Hope's USO shows were received; on tailoring the show (and the cue cards) to the audience; on working with Bob Hope as he got older
On a bomb going off near him when he was with Bob Hope's USO show; on the people that were in Bob Hope's entourage; on the legacy of Bob Hope
On doing cue cards for Milton Berle on The Milton Berle Show; on doing cue cards for Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life, and on Bill Cosby's remake of the show

Chapter 6

On doing cue cards for Amos 'N' Andy and Queen for a Day; on doing cue cards for Let's Make a Deal, Ralph Edwards, and The Carol Burnett Show; on doing cue cards for Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
On working with actors reading cue cards, including an initially reluctant Bette Davis; on what he feels represents the best of television; on the then-future of television; on how he'd like to be remembered
On various people he worked with in his career
On B-roll photos from his career: a drawing him of with phones; with Tony Bennett and Tony Danza; with Mark Spitz; with David Hasselhoff; with Burgess Meredith; with Ralph Edwards, Andy Griffith, and Ron Howard; with Garth Brooks; with Bob Hope; with Dan Rowan, Dick Martin, and Bob Hope
Shows

Amos 'N' Andy

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Amos 'N' Andy

Bob Hope Specials

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Barry McNulty on working with Bob Hope on his TV specials
Barry McNulty on Bob Hope's management style and how he worked with his writers
Barry McNulty on how Bob Hope felt about television
Barry McNulty on doing cue cards for Bob Hope's USO specials
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards and other duties for Bob Hope's USO Specials
Barney McNulty on how Bob Hope's USO shows were received and on tailoring the show (and the cue cards) to the audience
Barney McNulty on working with Bob Hope as he got older and his eyesight declined
Barney McNulty on a bomb going off near him when he was with Bob Hope's USO show

Carol Burnett Show, The (1967-78)

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Let's Make a Deal, Ralph Edwards, and The Carol Burnett Show

Dragnet

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Barry McNulty on doing cue cards for Jack Webb on Dragnet and other shows

Ed Wynn Show, The

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Barney McNulty on early talk about television on CBS -- Ed Wynn comes out from NY to start a variety show to compete with Texaco Star Theater
Barney McNulty on how he became involved with The Ed Wynn Show, where he first became involved in writing out cue cards
Barney McNulty on the format of The Ed Wynn Show
Barney McNulty on a typical workweek writing cue cards for The Ed Wynn Show and working on The George Gobel Show
Barney McNulty on the logistics of his weekly duties writing cue cards for several CBS shows, including The Ed Wynn Show
Barney McNulty on CBS and The Ed Wynn Show in the early days of television
Barney McNulty on the studio of The Ed Wynn Show
Barney McNulty on where he was positioned in the studio with his cue cards for The Ed Wynn Show; on his other duties on the show
Barney McNulty on the end of The Ed Wynn Show

Frank Sinatra Show, The (1957-58)

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Barry McNulty on doing cue cards for The Frank Sinatra Show and on working with a teleprompter

George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show

George Gobel Show, The

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Barney McNulty on a typical workweek writing cue cards for The Ed Wynn Show and working on The George Gobel Show

I Love Lucy

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Barry McNulty on doing cue cards for I Love Lucy for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz

Let's Make a Deal

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Let's Make a Deal, Ralph Edwards, and The Carol Burnett Show

Milton Berle Show, The (1954-56)

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Milton Berle on The Milton Berle Show

Queen for a Day

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Queen for a Day

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

You Bet Your Life

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life and on Bill Cosby's remake of the show
Topics

1939-40 World's Fair

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Barney McNulty on seeing television for the first time at the 1939 World's Fair

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Barney McNulty on cue card professionals dealing with censorship

Comedy-Variety

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for The Ed Wynn Show
Barry McNulty on doing cue cards for I Love Lucy with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz

First Big Break

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Barney McNulty on how he became involved with The Ed Wynn Show, where he first became involved in writing out cue cards

Historic Events and Social Change

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Barney McNulty on his experience of World War II
Barney McNulty on seeing television for the first time at the 1939 World's Fair
Barney McNulty on traveling with Bob Hope on his USO Tours of Vietnam

Pivotal Career Moments

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Barney McNulty on how he became involved with The Ed Wynn Show, where he first became involved in writing out cue cards

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for The Ed Wynn Show
Barry McNulty on doing cue cards for I Love Lucy with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz

Television Industry

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Barney McNulty on cue card professionals dealing with censorship
Barney McNulty on what he feels represents the best of television and on the then-future of television

Vietnam War

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Barney McNulty on traveling with Bob Hope on his USO Tours of Vietnam

War

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Barney McNulty on his experience of World War II
Barney McNulty on traveling with Bob Hope on his USO Tours of Vietnam

World War II

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Barney McNulty on his experience of World War II
Professions

Inventor

View Profession
Barney McNulty on how he became involved with The Ed Wynn Show, where he first wrote out cue cards
Barney McNulty on the specifics of his cue card process and on his cue card company Ad-Libs
Barney McNulty on cue card professionals dealing with censorship
Barney McNulty on working with actors reading cue cards, including an initially reluctant Bette Davis

Production Professionals

View Profession
Barney McNulty on how he became involved with The Ed Wynn Show, where he first wrote out cue cards
Barney McNulty on the physical aspects of cue cards
Barney McNulty on the logistics of writing out cue cards and working with performers
Barney McNulty on dealing with emergency situations with cue cards and on the need to be quick on your feet
Barney McNulty on perfecting his cue card system over the years and on his competition
Barney McNulty on dealing with shadows from cue cards and getting actors to not look like they're looking at the cards
Barney McNulty on using shorthand on the cue cards or using key words
Barney McNulty on how he got his cue card assignments and on his cue card company Ad-Libs
Barney McNulty on cue card professionals dealing with censorship
Barney McNulty on working with actors reading cue cards, including an initially reluctant Bette Davis

Technology Innovators

View Profession
Barney McNulty on how he became involved with The Ed Wynn Show, where he first wrote out cue cards
Barney McNulty on the specifics of his cue card process and on his cue card company Ad-Libs
Barney McNulty on cue card professionals dealing with censorship
Barney McNulty on working with actors reading cue cards, including an initially reluctant Bette Davis
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
Barry McNulty on doing cue cards for I Love Lucy for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Amos 'N' Andy

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
Barry McNulty on doing cue cards for Jack Webb on Dragnet and other shows

Game Shows

View Genre
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life and on Bill Cosby's remake of the show
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Queen for a Day
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Let's Make a Deal, Ralph Edwards, and The Carol Burnett Show

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for The Ed Wynn Show
Barney McNulty on a typical workweek writing cue cards for The Ed Wynn Show and working on The George Gobel Show
Barry McNulty on doing cue cards for The Frank Sinatra Show and on working with a teleprompter
Barry McNulty on working with Bob Hope on his TV specials
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards and other duties for Bob Hope's USO Specials
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Milton Berle on The Milton Berle Show
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Let's Make a Deal, Ralph Edwards, and The Carol Burnett Show
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

Reality TV

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Queen for a Day
People

Gracie Allen

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
Barney McNulty on working with Gracie Allen

Desi Arnaz

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Barry McNulty on doing cue cards for I Love Lucy for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz

Fred Astaire

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Barney McNulty on working with Fred Astaire

Lucille Ball

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Barry McNulty on doing cue cards for I Love Lucy for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
Barney McNulty on working with Lucille Ball

Tony Bennett

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Barney McNulty on a photo of him with Tony Bennett and Tony Danza

Edgar Bergen

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Barney McNulty on working with Edgar Bergen

Milton Berle

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Milton Berle on The Milton Berle Show

Garth Brooks

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Barney McNulty on a photo of him with Garth Brooks

George Burns

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show

Tony Danza

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Barney McNulty on a photo of him with Tony Bennett and Tony Danza

Bette Davis

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Barney McNulty on working with actors reading cue cards, including an initially reluctant Bette Davis

Ralph Edwards

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Let's Make a Deal, Ralph Edwards, and The Carol Burnett Show
Barney McNulty on a photo of him with Ralph Edwards, Ron Howard, and Andy Griffith

Redd Foxx

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Barney McNulty on working with Redd Foxx

George Gobel

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Barney McNulty on a typical workweek writing cue cards for The Ed Wynn Show and working on The George Gobel Show

Andy Griffith

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Barney McNulty on a photo of him with Ralph Edwards, Ron Howard, and Andy Griffith

David Hasselhoff

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Barney McNulty on a photo of him with David Hasselhoff

Bob Hope

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Barry McNulty on working with Bob Hope on his TV specials
Barney McNulty on the people that were in Bob Hope's entourage
Barney McNulty on the legacy of Bob Hope
Barney McNulty on doing cue cards and other duties for Bob Hope's USO Specials
Barney McNulty on working with Bob Hope as he got older and his eyesight declined
Barney McNulty on his wife, Jill McNulty and on Bob Hope thanking the troops
Barney McNulty on a photo of him with Bob Hope and others
Barney McNulty on a photo with Dan Rowan, Bob Hope, and Dick Martin

Ron Howard

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Barney McNulty on a photo of him with Ralph Edwards, Ron Howard, and Andy Griffith

Seaman Jacobs

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Barney McNulty on the writers of The Ed Wynn Show and on adapting cue cards for last-minute material

Hal Kanter

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Barney McNulty on the writers of The Ed Wynn Show and on adapting cue cards for last-minute material

Danny Kaye

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Barney McNulty on working with Danny Kaye

Gene Kelly

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Barney McNulty on working with Gene Kelly

Dick Martin

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Barney McNulty on a photo with Dan Rowan, Bob Hope, and Dick Martin

Harpo Marx

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Barney McNulty on working with Ed Wynn and Harpo Marx

Groucho Marx

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Barney McNulty on doing cue cards for Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life and on Bill Cosby's remake of the show

Burgess Meredith

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Barney McNulty on a photo of him with Burgess Meredith

Dick Powell

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Barney McNulty on working with Dick Powell

Dan Rowan

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Barney McNulty on a photo with Dan Rowan, Bob Hope, and Dick Martin

Dinah Shore

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Barney McNulty on working with Dinah Shore

Frank Sinatra

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Barry McNulty on doing cue cards for The Frank Sinatra Show and on working with a teleprompter
Barney McNulty on working with Frank Sinatra

Sid Smith

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Barney McNulty on working with Sid Smith

Mark Spitz

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Barney McNulty on a photo of him with Mark Spitz

Jack Webb

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Barry McNulty on doing cue cards for Jack Webb on Dragnet and other shows

Flip Wilson

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Barney McNulty on working with Flip Wilson

Ed Wynn

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Barney McNulty on early talk about television on CBS -- Ed Wynn comes out from NY to start a variety show to compete with Texaco Star Theater
Barney McNulty on how he became involved with The Ed Wynn Show
Barney McNulty on the format of The Ed Wynn Show
Barney McNulty on a typical workweek writing cue cards for The Ed Wynn Show and working on The George Gobel Show
Barney McNulty on CBS and The Ed Wynn Show in the early days of television
Barney McNulty on the end of The Ed Wynn Show

Alan Young

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Barney McNulty on working with Alan Young

All Interviews

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