Ladies and Gentlemen, this is...

September 1974-1979
Weekly Syndication
Bob Clayton
Produced By:
Bob Stewart Productions

While Dick Clark was in control of ABC's "$10,000/$20,000 Pyramid," Bill held the reins for the popular nighttime version.

Two celebrity/contestant teams compete. Bill announces six categories with vague or misleading titles (like "Fun in the Sun")....


...Then, a team selects one of the categories. Bill announces the subject ("Describe these things associated with Puerto Rico"), and the celebrity has 30 seconds to describe up to 7 words to the civilian for a point apiece. Any clue could be given, short of actually saying part of the word. A teammate can pass on any word, but could not come back to it. If the contestant thinks of it before the descriptions are done or time runs out, s/he stills receives a point.

After time runs out or all 7 words have been guessed, the opposing team picks one of the remaining categories and does likewise. Rounds 2 and 3 are identical, except that the civilian describes in round 2, and the team can choose who describes in round 3. Under these rules, a perfect score would be 21; achieving that score earned a $2,100 cash bonus.


The teams also had a chance to win big in the front game by locating The Big 7, a symbol hiding behind one of the categories played each week. The Big 7 offered a bonus to any contestant who could score 7 out of 7 in the designated category, and as the series evolved, so did the payoff. Originally it was $500, then $1,000; then it became a randomly selected amount between $1,000 and $5,000, and during the final season, cash was abandoned and the Big 7 prize became a brand new car.

If the game ends in a tie, additional rounds are played, with the subjects being a straightforward "words that begin with the letter ____." Top scorer in the tiebreaker wins. In early episodes, they played as many tiebreakers as it took. Later in the run, only one tiebreaker was played; top scorer wins the game, but if both contestants score 7 out of 7, the team that reaches that score faster wins.

The top scoring team at the end of the game goes to the Winner's Circle, one of the most famous (and certainly one of the best) end games ever devised in the genre.

One teammate sits facing the Pyramid, the other sits opposite. (Contestants can choose either position but almost always chose the latter, so we'll presume that for this description.) The celebrity is shown six subjects one at a time and this time with obvious titles. In one minute, the celebrity has to give a list of items that fit the subject while the partner guesses. This time, rules for clues are much stricter. Hand gestures were illegal, and clues could only be given in the form of a list; prepositional phrases, complete sentences, or descriptions would cause the subject to be thrown out. Either team member could pass on any subject and, unlike the front game, they can go back if time is left. The three subjects at the bottom of the Pyramid are worth $100 apiece. The two subjects in the middle are worth $200, and the one at the top pays $300. If all six are guessed before time runs out, the payoff is $10,000.


Game two is played identically to game one, except that who won makes a big difference. If the contestant who lost game one wins, they play the Winner's Circle for $10,000. If the same player wins both games, Winner's Circle #2 is now worth $25,000. (However, the contestant can only win a TOTAL of $25,000, so if the contestant wins the first Winner's Circle, they play the second Winner's Circle for $15,000.)

In TV Guide's 2001 cover story, "Top 50 Game Shows of All Time," "The $25,000 Pyramid" ranked #6. At first glance, one would assume it was the more famed, successful, and re-run CBS version hosted by Dick Clark during the 1980s. However, a closer look at the photo and text reveals that they're actually talking about Bill's version!


Dick Clark is so strongly identified with this series that it's almost strange to see somebody else holding down the fort. But sure enough, there's Bill in charge hosting the show as Bill would--cracking jokes, rooting for the contestants, commenting on the clues offered...Dick may be the more identified host, but make no mistake, "The $25,000 Pyramid" belonged to Bill.

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