To an entire generation, Dick Clark, who passed away today at the age of 82, was America's Oldest Teenager, rocking and rolling on "American Bandstand." I am not part of this generation. To people my age, yes, "Bandstand" was still on, but his duties as the host of "25,000 Pyramid" (and, to a lesser extent, the co-host of "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes") were much more exciting. For those who have never seen "Pyramid," it was your typical "celebrity teamed with a normal Joe," clue and answer game -- but what made it great was Clark's knack for upstaging his celebrity guests who just lost for his or her non celebrity teammate in the Winner's Circle. (I wouldn't go as far to use the word that Grantland's Bill Simmons did, but, yeah, things could get tense. Then again, wouldn't we all do the same thing?) Here are five of our favorite Dick Clark as host of "Pyramid" moments.
Poor Betty White. Back in 1987, she couldn't even get more than half of the pyramid -- getting stuck on two separate clues. White mistakingly went for kitchen utensils for the answer "Things Found in a Drawer." After, Clark offered up "folded underwear," to which the contestant gives White a look and says, "that would have done it." Sadly, after this appearance, Betty White was never heard from again.
Now this is how it's done. Fast forward to 4:45 and watch how Michael J. Fox masterfully beats the Pyramid.
William Shatner (of course it's William Shatner) almost caused Clark some serious injury after an unfortunate chair throwing incident. You see, Shatner accidentally uses the answer as a clue, which disqualifies his partner. Madness ensues. (Unfortunately, the clip can't be embedded, but you can watch it here.)
Here, Martin Mull does a pretty terrible job in the Winner's Circle (and probably uses an inappropriate remark about Native Americans as a clue), but it's nice to see that even Clark (at 10:22) can't get the contestant to say "things that are supported." Actually, it's Mull who comes through with the clue of "arch." Regardless, Mull got himself disqualified long before that clue anyway.
In July, Grantland dug up a clip of frequent guest David Letterman being humiliated by Clark after getting himself disqualified for trying to rhyme the clues with the answer. (Yes, that's aganst the rules.) Here, Letterman, inexplicably wearing shorts (but that's why we love Dave) plays the Winner's Circle with fellow star Jo Anne Worley (the main game had ended in a tie so the two stars played and would split the winnings between the two contestants), but, sadly, the result is similar. With 30 seconds left, Dave couldn't come up with a clue to get Jo Anne to say, "things that are flexible." Here's what's great: Clark comes over and says, "An old fashioned boys sled," a clue that goes nowhere with Worley. Letterman, possibly thinking back to the year before, is obviously very pleased with that lack of a result.
Regardless, we've been missing moments like this on television for quite some time and we'll miss the even more with Clark's passing.
Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. He has written for Wired Magazine, VanityFair.com and GQ.com. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter