The $100,000 Pyramid

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(ended 1991)

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The $100,000 Pyramid

Show Summary

Welcome to The $100,000 Pyramid guide at TV Tome. Next to Password, The $100,000 Pyramid ranks as one of the greatest word-association games of all time. The contest of attempting to associate words and phrases within a time limit, along with the pressure-packed "Winners' Circle" bonus round, made for what remains a television masterpiece. Pyramid, an expansion of creator Bob Stewart's Password (which he created during his time with Goodson-Todman Productions), had gone through two daily versions (1973's The $10,000 Pyramid, retitled The $20,000 Pyramid in 1976; and The $25,000 Pyramid, which began in 1982) and two syndicated versions (a mid-1970s entry known as The $25,000 Pyramid and a short-lived tourney, The $50,000 Pyramid, which came out in 1981). Play in this five-a-week show was virtually identical to each of the previous versions. Two contestants (one a returning champion), competed, each paired with a celebrity partner. Two full games were played per show, each having a front game and the Winners' Circle. Host Dick Clark announced a series of six pun-styled categories (e.g., Accessorize Me, You're All Wet), which more often than not had no bearing on what the category was about (for instance, "Accessorize Me" might pertain to options you order on a car, while "You're All Wet" could be about things you do to fool others). Each team alternated in choosing categories, each having seven words. The cluegivers then had to communicate the words to their partner within 30 seconds; the cluegiver could say or do anything he/she needed to get his/her partner to say the word, except say all or part of the word itself. Each team earned one point per word guessed, while a team could not score on words that were passed (though the player could score if he/she thought of it later; plus, Clark sometimes allowed a team to come back to a word if a win or tie score was at stake, without using any new clues). Any time all or part of a word was said, the famous Pyramid cuckoo would hoot and the clue was disqualified. Play continued until all words were played or time ran out. One of the cryptic clues in each round hid a special "bonus" category: • 7-11, a first-round game where the contestant won $1,100 for getting all seven words. • Mystery 7, played in the second round, where a bonus prize was awarded to the contestant for guessing all seven words. The subject was not announced until after its playing. Each team member took turns giving the clues; first the celebrity, then the contestant and the third time around, the team had a choice. A perfect score was 21. The team having the higher score after playing all six categories (or sometimes, if a lead was insurmountable before then) advanced to the Winners' Circle. If there was a tie, the scores were wiped out and the team causing the tie chose one of two letters ("Things that start with" a certain letter of the alphabet, e.g., B or R); if the first team scores on their seven words within 30 seconds, the other team had to guess their seven words in less than the time it took the first team to get all seven. A broken 21-21 tie was worth $5,000 to the winner. Ah, the Winners' Circle. No pressure here. Just try to guess six categories of things having something in common in 60 seconds, that's all. The cluegiver (usually but not always the celebrity) was seated before a board with six categories, arranged as a pyramid; the receiver (usually the contestant) had his/her back to the categories. Playing one category at a time, the cluegiver gave a list of items associated with a category (e.g., if the category were "Things associated with a computer," he/she could say, "the keyboard," "the disk drive" and "the floppy disk;" but could not say "the computer screen"). Descriptions, hand gestures, direct synonyms, made-up expressions, clues that did not fit the category, prepositional phrases and overly descriptive sentences were illegal, and if given disqualified the category, nullifying the contestant from winning the grand prize. Each category was worth cash; generally, the bottom three categories were the easiest, the middle two of mediun difficulty and the top one the most difficult. Any category could be passed (except, of course, if it was the last one remaining), with the team allowed to return to it at any point if time remained. The cash amounts of the six categories were as follows: •••• $300 •••• • $200 $250 • $50 $100 $150 If the team didn't guess all six categories, the cash winnings were determined by which ones were guessed. Getting all six categories won the grand prize, which varied depending on the round and the contestant playing it: • Either contestant's first trip per show: $10,000. • Single contestant's second trip on the same show: winnings increased to $25,000. The contestant having the highest Winners' Circle winnings after two games returned the next day. He/she stayed until defeated or winning five days. If both contestants won equal amounts of money in the Winners' Circle, they both returned the next day. In addition, the three contestants to make it to the top of the Pyramid in the least amount of time, returned for a $100,000 tournament. Conducted every eight weeks or so, the two contestants who had the best times competed the first day, with the third player taking the place of the loser the next day. No 7-11s or Mystery 7s were played in the front game, and the player clearing the Winners' Circle board first won $100,000. The two losers kept all their winnings. The tournament went for however long it took for someone to win the grand prize (which sometimes went for more than two weeks, thanks to fantastically difficult categories such as "Things That Exist" or "Things People Do"). Also, if the $100,000 was won in the first Winners' Circle played that day, the second game winner played their Winners' Circle for $10,000. In addition to the regular games, there were all-celebrity weeks played for charity, and weeks where blind contestants competed (the celebrities gave all the clues). The $100,000 Pyramid returned circa September 1990 as a five-a-week entry. Hosted by John Davidson, play was identical to before, except that two new bonus games replaced the 7-11 and Mystery 7: • Gamble for a Grand, which gave the contestant the option of guessing all seven words in 25 seconds. Doing so netted a $1,000 bonus. • Double Trouble, where teams had to guess two-word phrases within a 45-second time limit, for a $1,000 bonus. That version of The $100,000 Pyramid ran until approximately December 1991.moreless
Dick Clark

Dick Clark

Host (1985-1988)

Charlie O'Donnell

Charlie O'Donnell

Announcer (1985-1987)

John Davidson

John Davidson

Host (1991)

Johnny Gilbert

Johnny Gilbert

Announcer (1985-1988, 1991)

Bob Hilton

Bob Hilton

Announcer (1985-1988)

Dean Goss

Dean Goss

Announcer (1988, 1991)

Thursday
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Saturday
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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • I love this one man.

    10
    This Pyramid was real good. The Donny Osmond one was pretty bad, but ok in it self. This one gave out more money, the host did not over do his job. And tryed more to help the players more, as far as I know. I don't watch the new Pyramid much.
  • I love this show!

    10
    What kind of friggin moron would diss this show??? It\'s awesome, awesome, awesome, bar none! The masterful hosting of Dick Clark, the cool, speedy front game, the tense, tough Winner\'s Circle, and the ever-so-awesome $100,000 tournaments with some of the most awesome gameplay ever! Bring the show back, Sony... again!