Bill Tull, Conan O'Brien's longtime prop master for almost 30 years, has died. Tull worked with O'Brien on NBC's Late Night and TBS' Conan and often appeared on camera with the comedian. Tull recently joined O'Brien for the Inside Conan podcast, where he discussed some of the craziest props he made with fellow prop master John Rau.
"Bill Tull, our prop master extraordinaire for 28 years, died this morning," O'Brien tweeted Wednesday. "We always asked the impossible of Bill, sometimes minutes before showtime, and he always delivered. He was a warrior and a legend. Rest In Peace, Bill, and eternal thanks."
Bill Tull, our prop master extraordinaire for 28 years, died this morning. We always asked the impossible of Bill, sometimes minutes before showtime, and he always delivered. He was a warrior and a legend. Rest In Peace, Bill, and eternal thanks. pic.twitter.com/DpOMU6Bo0L— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) July 27, 2022
O'Brien's longtime sidekick Andy Richter retweeted a link to Tull's Inside Conan episode. "Bill passed away this morning. I know it's a tv cliché that crews become family, but I wouldn't know what else to call Bill," Richter tweeted. "He was in my life for almost 30 years, and I loved him a lot."
Richter noted that Tull would never say no to whatever crazy idea O'Brien's team came up with. "He was one of the most can-do people I've ever known and a terrific selfless friend beyond any work stuff. He was also really funny and knew how to have fun," Richter wrote. "Bill's one of those [people] everyone has a funny story about, & what they all have in common is his big heart & dedication to whatever silliness we threw at him. He was a big part of the soul of our show, & I'm sad to lose him, but glad I got so many years of his beautiful friendship."
Tull appeared on O'Brien's shows many times. On Conan, Tull would be featured in hilarious segments offering tips for cheap holiday gifts. O'Brien even recruited Tull for segments that didn't involve props. In a July 2016 sketch about the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, O'Brien revealed that Tull was a nationally-ranked marathon eater. He was eating the same hot dog for over 16 hours. "How's it going there, Bill?" O'Brien asked. "I can't feel my legs," Tull deadpanned. Later in the episode, O'Brien checked in on Tull. "I'm not sure I'm gonna make it. Tell my wife I love her," Tull said. After O'Brien reminded Tull he wasn't married, Tull snapped, "Then tell her to f— off."
In April, Tull stopped by O'Brien's Inside Conan podcast, where he discussed his favorite props. He said his favorite was a cheap giant Trojan Horse they built to hide O'Brien's writers, who were going to be delivered to David Letterman. "Everything we did at the beginning of our show was illegal," Tull said. "We broke every rule you could possibly break, union or building. And I'm not kidding." All that rule-breaking was for a good cause though, because audiences were entertained.
O'Brien finished Conan last summer. In November 2020, he signed on to star in a new HBO Max series, which still doesn't have a premiere date. In the meantime, O'Brien fans can still check out his podcast, Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend.