What Happened When a Famous Game Show Realized It Was Impossible to Win?

TV URBAN LEGEND: The Pyramid was discovered to be impossible to win the night before the show taped its first episode.

One of the most successful TV game shows of all-time is the Pyramid, best known for its current version, the $100,000 Pyramid, which airs on ABC as part of their series of prime time game show revivals.

It debuted, though, as a daytime game show on CBS in 1973. It was created by one of the greatest game-show creators ever, Bob Stewart. Stewart had worked for Mark Goodson and Bill Todman in their iconic game show production company, Goodson-Todman Productions. While there, Stewart invented Password, The Price is Right and To Tell the Truth.

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Stewart eventually went on his own and sold a game show idea that Goodson and Todman had rejected, which became the $10,000 Pyramid in 1973.

Hosted by Dick Clark, the series had two contestants who would each be paired with a celebrity guest. Each contestant would play one round with each celebrity. Each round, the contestants and the celebrity they are paired with have to guess a word based on clues (the words are typically all themed. Like "TV stars," "Breakfast items," stuff like that).

If you win a round, you then go to the winner's circle with the celebrity and then you have a minute to guess a category based on words (given by your partner) that fit into that category. So if the category is "Things in a desert," your partner would say, "Sand, cactus, camels," etc.

The Winner's Circle is one of the most fun to watch final rounds in any game show and it is a big reason as to why the show has remained such a success for so many years (hilariously enough, it was also LEFT OUT of the board game version of the show, to keep players from being able to practice using the board game).

However, originally, it was MUCH different.

Stewart once noted that there are certain numbers that most game shows are built around. 7, 5 and 10 are good numbers. "Get 7 right in a minute, get 5 right, get 10 right, etc."

Well, for the Pyramid, the Winner's Circle was going to be "Get 10 right in a minute."

Here's the problem - it couldn't be done!

Stewart got a bunch of friends together the night before the first episode was set to be filmed (the sets were all built and everything) as he just had some doubts about the final round. So they all kept playing the final round and NO ONE won a single round!

Stewart was freaking out. What to be done?

Then he came up with a hilariously inventive and down to Earth solution. He got a piece of plywood painted the same color as the Winner's Circle pyramid set and just had it nailed over the bottom row.

So now, instead of 10 categories, there were six.

You can see it here.

And an iconic game show was born!

The legend is...


Thanks to the late Bob Stewart and the Television Academy's brilliant interview with Stewart here for the information!

Be sure to check out my archive of TV Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of TV.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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