"Pyramid" & Dick Clark: Perfect Together
Originally posted: April 20, 2012
Text by: Jim Williams
He was best known for changing the landscape of
music forever on "American Bandstand" and "New Year's Rockin' Eve".
However, for those under the age of 30, Dick Clark might be best
remembered for overseeing civilians win life changing amounts of money
in front of a pyramid.
By 1973, "Bandstand" was already an American institution. Dick was
already involved with producing various projects for television and
radio, so his plate was already sizable. Then, comes news of Bob
Stewart, still looking for a breakout show of his own since leaving
Goodson-Todman, creating a game show called "The $10,000 Pyramid".
Naturally, Stewart needed a credible, well-liked broadcaster to emcee
the game. Having hosted game shows like "Missing Links" and "The Object
Is" in the past and not being one to let an opportunity pass him by,
Clark jumped at the opportunity. And, the rest, as they say, is game
One might call it a match made in heaven: a frenetic word association
game with big cash prizes emceed by a calm, cool, and collected
professional who had a knack for bringing the best out in people. Dick
Clark was a big reason why "Pyramid" was on the air in some form or
fashion for 15 consecutive years in the 1970s and 1980s.
What made Dick the perfect emcee for "Pyramid?" Several things come to
mind. First of all, he had something that very few emcees today
possess...control. He knew how and when to banter with the celebrity and
civilian contestants, but he also knew when to let the tension and drama
of the game unfold. Moreover, Dick had an inherited penchant for making
moments that much more important. The best example of this is how he
opened every "Winner's Circle" end game. "For $XX,000...here is your
first subject...GO!" And, Dick was arguably the most intelligent emcee
in the business in his day. His post-mortem dialogues after an
unsuccessful "Winner's Circle" were legendary. He seemingly always had
the perfect clue for a subject.
But, perhaps the greatest trait that Dick Clark possessed behind the
podium on "Pyramid" is the greatest trait anyone of us could possess in
our own lives, humility. Though the wattage of Dick Clark's star was as
bright as ever, he made sure the show's contestants and format would
shine brightest of all. When someone won the big money, Dick never
jumped into the fray immediately. He always let the winning contestant
have their moment in the spotlight. Future “Pyramid” hosts John Davidson
and Donny Osmond should have taken a cue from the master on how to help
"celebrate" a successful "Pyramid" climb.
The truest testament to how important Dick Clark was to "Pyramid" is
seeing just how well the show has done since the last episode he hosted
in 1988. In January 1991, "The $100,000 Pyramid" was revived in
syndication as a midseason replacement for affiliates. With Clark busy
at the helm of "The Challengers", the producers tapped John Davidson to
host. While Dick Clark fit "Pyramid" like a perfect pair of shoes, John
Davidson fit "Pyramid" like a pair of shoes about 5 sizes too
small...and perhaps with two left feet. His ill-at-ease style and
uncomfortable hosting doomed the show and by September 1992 "Pyramid"
was off the air again. Ten years later, "Pyramid" was in the hands of
Donny Osmond. Despite being more adept at the rules and flow of the
game, Osmond's over-the-top energy and semi-robotic delivery didn't
click with viewers (and the change in format, judging and controversial
tournament formats didn't help either) and "Pyramid" met its demise in
Simply put, there were two reasons why "Pyramid" was such a great show:
Dick Clark and the game itself. Revivals of the show have been pitched
on a number of occasions over the last few years. Dean Cain, Tim
Vincent, and Andy Richter are among those who have attempted to bring
"Pyramid" back to life. And all have been unsuccessful. Some may cite
the ever changing television landscape as the main reason for "Pyramid"
not being on the air. I would say it all comes down to the person behind
the podium. You can have the greatest format in the world, but if you
don't have a great host to execute that format, what do you have?
Thanks for the memories, Mr. Clark. And, for now, from all of us, so