Dotto was an American television quiz show which aired on CBS from January 6 to August 15, 1958. Although it quickly became the highest-rated daytime game show on television, its end came when it became the unexpected first casualty---and ignition---of the quiz show scandals that rocked American broadcasting as the 1950s closed.
Hosted by Jack Narz, who achieved a popularity equal to that of Hal March on The $64,000 Question, Dotto was based on the children's connect-the-dots game: contestants answered general-knowledge questions to connect dots that made a portrait of a famous or historical personage.
Within the first six months of its run, Dotto became the highest-rated quiz program of 1958, and on July 1 a weekly nighttime version began on NBC. 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.
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 (including an episode with Yaffe Kimball-Slatin). 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.
The CBS and Colgate executives also learned the show's producers had paid Winn, Hilgemeier, and Kimball-Slatin to keep quiet about the notebook. But they also learned that Hilgemeier may have demanded more money to keep quiet, filing a deceptive practices complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.
When Colgate, CBS, and NBC executives (including CBS president Frank Stanton) met in mid-August 1958, at the time the nighttime Dotto began to look like an NBC hit, executive producer Frank Cooper admitted that the series was rigged and that only a select few among his production staff knew it. The executives agreed – Dotto had to be cancelled.
NBC ended its run on August 12, followed by the CBS version three days later. In an interview, host Jack Narz revealed 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 proving that he was not connected to the fraud.
The Dotto revelations prompted the New York Journal-American, at last, to take seriously the previously-presented accusations by deposed Twenty-One champion Herb Stempel that the popular nighttime quiz had been rigged, and the quiz show scandal was on in earnest.
Jack Narz continued to work in television, hosting such shows as Top Dollar (1958-1959), Video Village (1960), Seven Keys (1960-1965), I'll Bet (1965), Beat the Clock (1969-1972), Concentration (1973-1978), and Now You See It (1974-1975). His last hosting appearance was on the March 5, 1982 episode of Password Plus.
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 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 (who discovered the notebook) and Yaffe Kimball-Slatin (who played against Winn) effectively disappeared into obscurity.
Presented by Jack Narz
Country of origin United States
Running time 30 Minutes
Original channel CBS (daytime)
Original run January 6 – August 15, 1958