Dick Clark and the "Pyramid"

TV's most visible host for decades did not control every well-known show he did.

The numerous obituaries about Dick Clark included his long run as the host of the game show which originally was "The $10,000 Pyramid" and eventually became "The $100,000 Pyramid". For whatever reason, they didn't mention one important fact.

"Pyramid" was one of the few major shows...perhaps the only one...Clark did not own or produce.

I admit some of the reasons for that may be speculation.

What I do know is that "Pyramid" was owned and created by Bob Stewart, one of the many successful game show packagers many people never heard of.  He once worked for Mark Goodson-Bill Todman productions, and came up with the original concepts for "To Tell the Truth", "Password", and even "The Price is Right". He left in 1965, and began producing shows on his own, several of which were emceed by former "Price" host Bill Cullen.  Cullen also hosted a nighttime syndicated version of "Pyramid" in the 1970's.

According to some accounts, Cullen wasn't available to host the daytime "Pyramid" when CBS first bought it in 1973, because he already was hosting a game show for Stewart.  Why Stewart chose Clark isn't certain, but I suspect it has to do with the trend at the time of game shows becoming more glitzy, and younger game show hosts (such as then-newcomers Chuck Woolery and Alex Trebek).  Clark definitely gave Stewart both a veteran host who was steeped in show business and with Clark's trademark youthful looks.

I did see a few years ago an interview Clark did in 1999, in which he said he and Stewart didn't hit it off right away.  Clark said Stewart was taken aback when he made some suggestions about the show.  Considering Clark already had a long history as a producer, Stewart apparently resented what he thought was Clark trying to take over the show.  Clark later insisted that wasn't true, and the two eventually became friends. He ended up winning more Emmy awards for "Pyramid" than for his most famous effort, "American Bandstand".

"Pyramid" eventually contributed to a feat few, if anyone else, in television have ever achieved. In the mid-1980's, Clark hosted programs on all three of the existing networks at that time, as well as in syndication. ("American Idol" host and apparent Clark protege Ryan Seacrest appears to be close to achieving that.)

On the last "Pyramid" telecast in 1980 on ABC (it moved to ABC in 1974 and eventually returned to CBS), Cullen gave Clark a compliment I posted on my station Facebook page last week, calling him "one of the finest all-around hosts" in the business.

Coming from someone who, at least at the time, was a TV legend, that was no minor compliment.

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