Oh, how I remember being with Dick Clark. No, I wasn’t on American Bandstand. I was a contestant on the $20,000 Pyramid with Dick Clark. And I’ll never forget it or him.
When I moved to the New York City area from Tennessee in 1979, the first thing I thought – seriously – is now’s my chance to get on a TV game show. You see, my neighbor Judge William O. Beach had visited New York City and been selected to appear on “I’ve Got a Secret.” My mother’s good friend, Mary Powers, had come to New York and gotten on “To Tell the Truth.” So if you moved to New York from Clarksville, Tennessee, the only thing to do was get on a game show. Of course, what else?
So I applied. I was in a baby group then, when our now 32-year-old daughter, Charlotte, was a year old. One of the women in the group had tried to get on a game show, so she showed me the ropes. I filled in my application and in to NYCity I went. With fear and trembling.
In preparation, my husband Michael and I played the $20,000 Pyramid board game back and forth, back and forth each night when he came home from work. I became relentless. He became exhausted. Finally I was ready to try my luck.
I hired a baby sitter, not easy in those days for us, and soon found myself in a small room playing the game with a group of strangers in the city. Miraculously, I seemed to do well.
“We’ll call if we’re interested,” they said. And that was it. Then came months of waiting, waiting, waiting. Finally, I received the long-anticipated call to come back. So I did. And played the game some more.
At last, I was told I had been selected to appear on the show. Maybe. I had to be at the ABC Studio at 8am on a certain day and I may or may not be called up to be on the show. Michael and I stayed in a low-rent hotel room the night before and when I awakened, my curling iron would not work. An unbelievable nightmare to me in those days. So my husband, still here after 38 years, held the cord together with his hands as I curled my hair, while simultaneously trying to calm me down.
Then I had to play the game back and forth, back and forth again in the studio ante room and wait. And wait some more. A guard walked with me when I needed to go to the bathroom because of something that had happened on the $64,000 Question years before. Finally, I was called up on to the stage and there…..there….was Dick Clark, pancake make-up and all. Baby face and all.
Yes, he looked like the world’s oldest teenager, but he was also something else. He was one of the nicest men I’d ever met. He seemed genuinely concerned about the butterflies in my stomach. Asked about my Southern accent – I think he said it “oozed all over him”. Yes, that’s what he said. I’ve never forgotten it. During the commercial break he helped me calm down. He clearly wanted to help this young woman, so obviously a newcomer to the bright lights of New York City.
“Things you balance,” he said, as I played the final pyramid round. “Scales….your checkbook,” I replied in rapid succession. “Things that are bought by the pound,” he said. “Meat, potatoes…..nails,” I said. And that was the answer. I had won my $10,000. A fortune for me, with Michael just out of five years of graduate school, our future still uncertain before us.
Michael ran up on the stage. Very uncharacteristic of him. Dick Clark said, “Who is this?” We’d been talking about Charlotte during on-air banter, so I blurted out, “This is Charlotte’s father!” Of course, never mentioning that he was also my husband. What an afternoon! What a fortune had fallen into my lap.
A fortune that Dick Clark helped me win. Thank you Dick. Thank you. May your soul and the souls of all the departed rest in peace.