Not everyone has a good aptitude for remembering the words of a script or speech or song... and that's where Cue Cards come in. They are also known as note cards and the newer incarnation called a tellaprompter*.
They "are cards with words written on them that help actors and speakers remember what they have to say. They are typically used in television broadcasts where they can be held off-camera and are unseen by the audience. Cue cards have largely fallen out of favor with modern broadcasters, being replaced by the teleprompter, but many TV shows, including sitcoms and reality shows, still use cue cards due to their mobility, as a teleprompter only allows the actor or broadcaster to look directly into the camera." (wickapedia)
Also used in some talk shows and game shows recorded before a live audience are electronic signs with the word "Applause" or "Laughter" on them. The producers of the show can cause the sign to light up or flash and thereby tell the audience to do so.
The First Cue Card Guy
Last week Jay Leno told a national television audience what Mr. McNulty's passing meant. ''Now, all of Hollywood is speechless,'' he said. ...Click Here
Cue Cards pretty much began with Barney McNulty, who was working as a page at CBS Studios back in He was on a set staring the early hollywood comedian actor Ed Wynn* who at the time was in bad health and couldn't remember his lines. So Barney, who had done something kind of similar while a pilot who was trained to write quicly and very clearly. So Barney volunteered to write Wynn's lines on big white sheets of cardboard and hold them up for him.
Barney McNulty was born in Philadelphia on June 15, 1923. His family moved to California in 1939 after his older sister, Penny Singleton, began performing as "Blondie Bumstead" in the Dagwood movies. (She was later the voice of television cartoon Jane Jetson.)
He attended North Hollywood High School, and during World War II, served in Army Air Corps communications, where he perfected a skill that foretold his future... swiftly transcribing Morse code into block letters. In 1947 he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in political science. He flipped the cards to cue Bob Hope on his television shows (some produced by Stefan Hatos), Lucille Ball for the pilot of I Love Lucy, and Groucho Marx for the pilot of You Bet Your Life. He was personally requested by Orson Welles for what would be the final performance by the great actor and producer an appearance on the Cybill Shepherd-Bruce Willis series Moonlighting. He cued Hubert Humphrey, the former vice president, at a political convention. He also flipped the cards for Frank Sinatra, Milton Berle, Danny Kaye, Angela Lansbury, Carol Burnett, Jack Benny, Dinah Shore, Fred Astaire, the Smothers Brothers, and even the poet Carl Sandburg who asked to keep his cue cards as a memento of an appearance on television.
McNulty's travels with Hope highlighted his life with celebrities, all of whom he seemed to admire. Globe-trotting for Hope to entertain military personnel meant transporting from 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of cue (or "idiot") cards, putting the right ones aboard helicopters for specific shows, and then flipping them in proper sequence with proper timing. The cue-card man became a backstage fixture in Hope's entourage, busy with his marking pens and cards as he quickly printed up new cards to accommodate any sudden script changeshttp://www.letsmakeadeal.com/barney.htm
Barny McNulty's "Ad Libs" ... The first Cue Card Company
Cue Cards pretty much began with Barney McNulty, who was working as a page at CBS Studios back a ways.
He was on a set staring the early hollywood comedian actor Ed Wynn* who at the time was in bad health and couldn't remember his lines. So Barney, who had done something kind of similar while a pilot who was trained to write quicly and very clearly. So Barney volunteered to write Wynn's lines on big white sheets of cardboard and hold them up for him.
As time and jobs accumulated McNulty realized that there was a need for cue cards and created his company "Ad Libs".
Bob hope's personal cue card guy till his last performances also check out first love lucy and probabl g burns last
List of credits for Barny McNulty on IMDB