On this day on CBS 40 years ago, not only did we see a new soap opera in the name of The Young and the Restless, but the network also debuted a new kind of game show on daytime TV: The $10,000 Pyramid. A word association game, created by legendary game show producer Bob Stewart (The Price is Right, Password, To Tell The Truth), it featured the biggest jackpot of any game show at the time since the quiz 100 Grand 10 years earlier.
Over the years it’s gone through several different adjustments in prize money; first $10,000, then $20,000. Nighttime in the ’70’s saw a weekly $25,000 series. Then in the ’80’s, $25,000 came back to daytime and then later in the same decade, we went to the highest amount yet: $100,000. The show was hosted for most of its runs by the late and legendary Dick Clark. Other hosts include Bill Cullen, who did the ’70’s nighttime version, John Davidson in the early ’90’s, and two most recent revivals were hosted by Donny Osmond and The Price is Right producer Mike Richards.
While inflation came in and served its due, the core format and heart of the game still remained the same. The winner’s circle is hands down my favorite game show bonus round of all time. Very few game shows can take a seemingly simple thing – guessing words and phrases – and turn it into one of the most nerve-wracking 60 seconds ever. And it’s all because it requires you to do a great bit of strict, critical thinking. No prepositions, no synonyms, don’t describe, only use clean lists to give clues for a category. Make sure your clues give your partner a picture of what you’re telling them.
The show has had some wonderful celebrities coming on to play the game… Betty White, Nipsey Russell, Loretta Swit, LeVar Burton, Adrienne Barbeau, Vicki Lawrence (who often provided lots of entertainment during game play with her snarky relationship with Dick Clark, Billy Crystal (who’s known still to this day for beating the winner’s circle with the fastest time – 26 seconds) and even Dick Clark himself played on the nighttime version in the ’70’s and on Donny Osmond’s version.
Happy anniversary, Pyramid. Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last revival of you yet!