The game show Dotto aired on CBS daytime from January 6, 1958 through August 15, 1958. There was a nighttime version that ran on NBC from July 1 of that year until August 12. During the few months of its existence, it was a tremendous, highly-rated hit.
So why was it cancelled so quickly? Simple: It was rigged.
Dotto was the game show that triggered the great game show scandal. It was a simple show with two contestants competing for big prizes. On the set, each could see the same dot-to-dot puzzle. The host, Jack Narz, would ask a general knowledge question and a contestant would ring in if he or she thought they could answer it. If they were right, they banked dollars and more of the dots would be connected on the puzzle they could see. They would then have a chance to identify the image of the puzzle and if they were right, they would win the game, the money they’d banked and additional prizes. There was a little more to the game than that but not much…and it was very exciting because, in part, the producers manipulated things to make it exciting.
In May, a standby contestant named Ed Hilgemeier (nicknamed “Skinny Eddie” backstage and by the staff) watched from backstage as a woman named Marie Winn, the show’s long-running, undefeated champ, easily defeated a challenger named Yeffe Kimball Slatin. Shortly after, returning to the room where contestants were kept, Hilgemeier happened to find a notebook belonging to Winn. In it, he found the questions and answers that had just been asked on the show. Hilgemeier showed it to Slatin and together, they approached the show’s producers and threatened to go public with this evidence of rigging. The producers agreed to pay them to keep quiet.
Soon after though, “Skinny Eddie” took the matter to the Manhattan district attorney. Some reports say he was angry because the producers had declined to pay additional money he demanded. Others say he got scared that the truth would leak and he’d find himself implicated in a scandal. Either way, he blew the lid off the cover-up and it got into the press. CBS and the show’s sponsor, Colgate, looked into the matter and Dotto quickly disappeared. There was no evidence that Jack Narz was involved in the deception and his career continued, unharmed. He went on to host many other game shows, including Video Village. Not long after, it came out that some other game shows were not on the up-and-up…but Dotto was the first to fall.