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Author Topic: 1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story  (Read 8645 times)

Eric Paddon

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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« on: July 04, 2009, 10:09:48 PM »
Many of us in this hobby are familiar with the $10,000 Pyramid episode from June 1973 with Kaye Ballard and Richard Deacon, which is the only circulating episode from that period (prior to the GSN aired shows from October 73) and which features a controversial win by a contestant named Preston Jones.

I have been a member of a message board called "Film Score Monthly" for a decade and there was always an occasional poster there named Preston Jones from California but I never once thought it was the same person until just a few weeks ago, when he mentioned his win in passing during a thread on the Dick Van Dyke Show, and that prompted me to get in touch with him where he was glad to share his entire story of being a Pyramid contestant and the controversy that ensued over his win that at first wasn't a win, but then became one thanks to a replayed last box.

Here is his account in four installments, which he has graciously allowed me to share with this group.

copyright 2009, Preston Neal Jones

From the moment that I won the jackpot on "THE $10,000 PYRAMID," I've referred to it as an act of Providence, for which I take no personal credit whatsoever.  
And in fact, it was one of those big Acts of Providence which resulted from a whole chain of little Acts of Providence, the kind of big Act of Providence
which never would have occurred if any one of those links in the chain had been missing.

So I'll start with one or two of those little links.  Such as, my friendship with Wendy Stewart, a music major at Carnegie Mellon University (where I was a
drama major) in the late sixties.  Wendy studied piano, and she urged me to grab the opportunity should it ever come my way of seeing Artur Rubenstein perform,
because he was such a wonderfully elegant artist.

Another link came years later, circa 1972, when a young lady in my Connecticut home town named Talushica Bruno (she gave herself the first name), in a totally
superfluous effort to seduce me, introduced me to the powers of Tequila.  (I was only a moderate drinker, and likely wouldn't have had any particular Tequila
awareness had it not been for Ms. Bruno.)

Such, at any event, are the links which were forming a Chain of which I was unconscious...

By spring of 1973, having finished college and two years of civilian service as a conscientious objector, I was living at home in New Canaan, Connecticut and
working part time at the local YMCA, manning the front desk.  When I read in a newspaper that the guest list on a forthcoming Dick Cavett Show on ABC TV would
include Artur Rubenstein, I remembered Wendy's advice and immediately ordered a ticket for that broadcast.  Thus it was that, a few weeks later, I was standing
in line in the late afternoon with the other audience members on the Manhattan sidewalk outside the studio where they videotaped The Dick Cavett Show,
patiently awaiting admittance.  I noticed a young fellow chatting with other people in the line, occasionally handing them a 3" by 5" card, but I paid him no
particular mind.  Until he approached me.  When he began by asking me if I lived in New York, I thought he must be canvassing for political votes of some sort.  
I told him I lived in the Connecticut suburbs, but this did not discourage him.  He said, "Oh, so you COULD come in to Manhattan again any time if you wanted to?"  I
assured him I could, and then he explained that he was representating not a politician but a brand new CBS game show called "The $10,000 Pyramid."  (Some
time later, in Hollywood, I would learn that game shows often gleaned their contestants from their studio audiences; but, like other shows when they first
start out and haven't built up a sizeable audience of their own, the "Pyramid" was scouting for contestants in OTHER shows' audiences.)

"We're looking for bright, verbal, upbeat people like yourself to play our game on TV," he explained.  How he knew I was bright, verbal and upbeat I had no
idea, as I was just standing there, not talking to anyone, when he approached me.  Mind you, of course, I was bright, and verbal, and upbeat -- but how did he
know?  I was also footloose and fancy free, so when this fellow offered it to me I accepted the 3"x5" card with the date and the name of the hotel where I
would audition for the show.  (It was only a week away.)  And that was that.  (Artur Rubenstein had by now, as it turns out, retired from playing the piano in
public, but he was a delightful guest that night on the Cavett show -- and, as I can now recognize, he had served his Higher Purpose in my life.)

So the following Monday, I went to the suite at a Manhattan hotel where a lively, middle-aged lady was officiating at the "Pyramid" try-outs.  (She's such
a big part of this story, I wish I could still remember her name.  I dearly hope I wrote it down somewhere at the time, so that ultimately I can give her her
due.  For now, I'll have to call her Contestant Lady.)  The perfectly sensible method she used to select contestants from the group of applicants was to meet
with us four at a time in one of the rooms and have us play the game.   I was paired off with a young actor who -- no mere waiter, he -- managed a restaurant,
and who until recently had acted on ABC's afternoon program, "DARK SHADOWS."    It's the one soap opera, he told me, where you didn't mind so much if they
killed you off, because there was still the chance that you could come back as a ghost.

Contestant Lady explained the workings of the Pyramid game to the four of us.  The first half of the show was like "PASSWORD," (this is my description,
not hers), where celebrity and contestant race to convey words and phrases to each other, at $25 or $50 per correct answer; then the team which won that first
round would go to two chairs in "the winner's circle" where in the space of 60 seconds the celebrity would try to convey to his partner the words or phrases
which would be revealed to the celebrity one by one on six blocks of a pyramid which he, the celebrity, could see but the contestant could not.  There were no
restrictions on clue-giving in the first round, one could use pantomime if it helped, but in the winner's circle there was no physicality allowed and the only
clue allowed was to give the partner a list of things which fit the subject or topic on that particular block of the Pyramid.  (In subsequent seasons, the
contestant would be given the choice of giving or receiving the clues, but in that first year it was always a given that the celebrity would give the list-clues, and the contestant
would have to come up with the answers.)

The "PYRAMID" had been on the air for a few weeks, and Contestant Lady came equipped with actual challenges and answers that had been used on previous
programs.  The first time she demonstrated one of them to us so that we'd understand the game, I can't recall what it was but it struck me as something
I'd never get right, myself, so as a gag I stood up and said, "Excuse me, I've just lost the game, I'm going home," or words to that effect, which made
everybody in the room laugh.  I do remember one gambit clearly.  I had to convey to my restaurateur/actor partner various words and names with the double O in
their spelling. When handed a card that read, "Gary Cooper," I said to my partner, "Here's an actor who said, 'Yup,'" and he immediately said, "Gary
Cooper."  Contestant lady said that on the actual broadcast Lucy Arnaz had been handed "Gary Cooper" and she'd had no idea how to clue the name to her
contestant partner.  

In any event, we all had fun, and then we were dismissed.  Except that Contestant Lady asked me if I could stay for just a moment as the others filed
out.  When we were alone, she said, "I want you to be on the show next Thursday.  Can you make it?"  

Now, considering that it was my bright, verbal abilities which had presented me with this unexpected opportunity, it's pertinent to note here that it was my
bright, verbal inabilities which nearly blew the whole thing.  When somebody says to you, "next Thursday," do you think they're talking about the Thursday
that's coming up this week, or the Thursday coming up next week?  Somehow, in my head,  Contestant Lady's "next Thursday" translated into Thursday of next week.  
But she meant Thursday of this week.  (I still maintain it wasn't my fault.  I mean, if "next Thursday" means "this Thursday," then what the hell does "this
Thursday" mean?)  But that doesn't excuse my incredible stupidity.  Because, you see, she wrote the date on a piece of paper, when I got home I wrote that exact
date on the calendar, NEVER NOTICING THAT IT WAS ONLY A COUPLE OF DAYS AWAY!  Once the human brain gets fixated on a concept -- such as, "next week" -- it can
sometimes be very difficult to get itself unstuck.  

So there I was, not unstuck but definitely not unstupid, making arrangements with one of my colleagues at the YMCA to fill in for me on that particular
date.  And when I walked into the Y a couple of days later and we saw each other, it was a classic case of:

"What are you doing here?"

"What are YOU doing here?!"  

And soon enough I realized my collossal blunder, ran to the payphone and contritely called Contestant Lady in New York.  She got on the line and her
first words were, "I don't believe it!"  But she must have believed my story about my stupidity, because she gave me another chance, and a date the following
week, "And," she added, "If you don't tattoo that somewhere, I'll -- I'll shoot you."  To which I could only say, "I'll load the bullets."

FADE OUT this week, FADE IN next week:
« Last Edit: July 04, 2009, 10:13:51 PM by Eric Paddon »

Eric Paddon

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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2009, 10:12:11 PM »

"The $10,00 Pyramid" was taped at the old Ed Sullivan Theater, (current home of the David Letterman show).  Typically, a game show records a whole week of shows
in one day.  In between each program, of course, the celebrities (if any) change clothes for the "next day's" show.  Permit me to observe at this point that I
think it's in some ways probably harder for a celebrity to play a TV game than it is for his or her "civilian" partner.  The civilian, for one thing, probably
knows the game and its rules a lot better than the celebrity.  Celebrities don't have time to waste watching game shows, but the rest of us do.  What's more,
celebrities, unlike the contestants, have a certain national reputation for a modicum of intelligence to maintain.  So I think they're probably more nervous
than the contestants once the cameras are rolling.  (I may as well mention here that I never thought I'd win any money on "The Pyramid" because, by now, I'd
spent over a week at home watching the show with a pillow placed over the bottom of the screen so I could play along without seeing the answers superimposed on the
bottom of the screen -- and I lost, every time.)  

Incidentally, to rub salt on my wounds of humiliation from the week before, I learned that the guy they had picked to take my place had gone on to win the

Please keep in mind, because it takes on a certain importance later in my tale, that the show had only been on the air for about a dozen weeks.  The studo
audience wasn't very large, but it was augmented by all of us contestants, a week's worth, watching the proceedings and waiting and wondering when our turn
would come up.  First things first, however.  Before taping commenced, Contestant Lady and a couple of her assistants herded us players into Ed's
spacious old office upstairs.  There we learned that this week's celebrities would be actress/singer/comedienne Kaye Ballard and often comedic character
actor Richard Deacon, (most famous for portraying Mel Cooley, the long suffering producer/brother-in-law of Alan Brady on "The Dick Van Dyke Show").   The first
order of business was for all of us to read and sign a three-page legal document.  The only one of its stipulated points I remember was the assertion
that we were not running for public office anywhere.  (Apparently some guy running for first selectman somewhere in Arizona had gone on "The Price Is Right," whereupon his rival insisted he was entitled to "equal time" on the network.)  Once that was out of the way, we all got to know each other a little, while Contestant Lady (hereinafter CL) and her
staffers got us all into the mood by having us practice challenges from the show, just as we had done in our respective auditions.

As a general rule, CL and her staff people were making every effort to relax us so that we wouldn't be nervous about being on television, mainly, and simply, so
that we would be able to play the game well.  As it happens, this noble practice in subsequent years would be abandoned for a radically different philosophy and
approach.  Instead of wanting good, personable game-players, producers (and of course advertisers) wanted, above all, entertaining game players.  They wanted
players so keyed up and nervous that they'd be more likely to freak out on TV, like that poor woman on "The Price Is Right" who famously fainted on
camera.  (Just a few years after my "Pyramid" experience, a friend in my home town went on the same show, and when we compared notes afterward it was obvious
that our pre-show preparations were completely different from each other's.)  

So, we all got to do a little dry run up there in Ed's office.  One sweet, pretty, red-headed housewife in blue gingham played her practice run so well that I immediately
thought to myself, "She's going to make it at least as far as the Winner's Circle, and maybe even win the jackpot."  

As show time approached, they walked us all down to the stage, introduced us to Dick Clark, and gave each of us a chance to get used to sitting in the game
seats with all the lights and cameras bearing down on us.  Then we were ushered to the main seats -- all except for the first two contestants, of course -- and
videotaping began on Week Twelve of "The $10,000 Pyramid."

So here I am, sitting in the audience with my fellow contestants -- and, in one case, my enemy combatant, but who? -- watching them set up for the first show's
taping, and mulling over the lessons CL and her staff shared with us up in Ed's office.  For one thing, they emphasized that this particular word game was a
race against the clock.  Keep going, they advised, rack up as many points as you can before the buzzer tells you your thirty seconds for that partticular round
are up.  If you hear the "raspberry" that says you've missed a point, don't stop, there'll be plenty of time to argue about it after the buzzer if you think
you got a raw deal, just keep racing and racking up those points while you still can.

They also shared some pertinent thoughts about the crucial Winner's Circle.  We all knew that we'd be seated opposite our celebrity, his wrists inside rungs on
the armrest, to prevent him from gesticulating when the only clue allowed is verbal -- a list of things that fit the subject which only he can see.  The
subjects, or topics, appear one at a time behind us, written on a block which initially shows how much money this topic will be worth if we guess it correctly
-- $50, $75, $100 -- and which then swivel around to show the topic itself written on the block's flip side.  A bell sounds to indicate if you've gotten it
right, and if you get all six of them right before sixty seconds elapse, then you hear the music which tells you you've won the $10,000 jackpot.  If not, of
course, you hear the sour buzzer which tells you you get only the pin money on the topics you guessed correctly and the pop-up toaster and a chance to go back
and play again, this time with the OTHER celebrity as your partner.  CL's word of caution about this whole procedure was to the effect that you'd better be pretty darn accurate
when guessing that final, jackpot topic.  In other words, on the first few topics, if you're "in the ballpark," the judges will allow you to score that
point to get the momentum going, but by the time you get to the topic at the top of the Pyramid, the producers won't be disposed to blithely throw away their
$10,000, so you'd better hit it right on the nose.  (We're also told that sometimes, in the heat of the moment, a certain type of mental osmosis takes
p[lace, and contestant and celebrity can become psychically in tune with each other, almost a form of telepathy.)

And soon enough, it's show time!  The first round of the first show kicks off with a contestant held over, it seems, from the previous week.  She's a petite,
sweet young thing in a grey dress with her blonde hair in a bun.  She's a kindergarten teacher, but she almost looks as if she could be in kindergarten
herself.   She's paired off with Richard Deacon, which turns out to be a lucky thing for her.  Because, as the day progresses from show to show, it quickly
becomes apparent that Deacon can play the game conscientiously and well, whereas Kaye Ballard is a disaster area.  Or, should I say, since we're dealing in
pyramids -- a ruin?  If the celebrities got the same smart tips we contestants got, she's ignoring them.  When the buzzer says she's missed a point, instead of
racing on to the next word, she'll protest, "Hey what is this?  We was robbed!" and that sort of thing.  And, she simply isn't as adept at this particular game
as Mr. Deacon seems to be.

Anyhow, early in that first round, the schoolteacher has to convey a series of words to Richard Deacon. Each word, of course, is visible to us in the audience,
but not to Deacon.  A moment comes when she has to clue Deacon to the word, "bra" -- and suddenly, impulsively, the young teacher cups her two hands over
her torso and says, "This!  Here!"  Hilarity, of course, ensues.  Caught in the close-up camera, a clearly alarmed Richard Deacon can't conceal his thought:  
"Can I say that on television?"  Not a second too soon -- is it that mental telepathy kicking in? -- he rescues himself, saying, "Oh!  Brassiere!"  Phew!  
She gets her point, the audience applauds, but I'm sitting there nervously worrying, "What am I going to do on national television if suddenly I have to
convey the words, 'Jockey Shorts'?"

As the clock race continues from show to show, whenever there's a commercial break, Richard Deacon whips out his handkerchief and wipes the sweat off his
bald head, (the very dome that Morey Amsterdam was always ribbing on "The Dick Van Dyke Show").  And one reason why he's perspiring is because he keeps winning
the first round of each game and escorting his civilian partner to the Winner's Circle to try for the big money.  The responsibility is clearly weighing on him,
so much that eventually he's no longer waiting for the commercials, he's constantly wiping the sweat off his head on camera.  Meanwhile, of course, all
of us contestants are praying we'll be partnered with Deacon, and dreading the possibility that we'll be paired instead with the hopeless Miss Ballard.  

Eric Paddon

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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2009, 10:13:23 PM »

Although he keeps going to the Winner's Circle, Deacon so far hasn't cracked open the $10,000 egg.  And as good as each civilian contestant is, he or she
knows that's the last time they'll be sitting in the Winner's Circle, because now they're going back to play the next game, tethered to the handicap of Kaye
Ballard.  Eventually, I'm very pleased to see that the sweet housewife in the gingham dress justifies my faith in her, by indeed making it to the Winner's
Circle.  But, as with the others before her, alas, she climbs back down a couple of hundred dollars richer, yet with no prospect of gaining any more.  She is
told to sit down opposite Kaye Ballard -- and I am told to go onstage and sit opposite Richard Deacon!  (I was really rooting for Mrs. Gingham.  She'd been
married and a mother for many years, and had somehow never managed to have a honeymoon yet.  And she was a lovely person.)

So there I am when the commercials conclude, sitting in the bright lights.  As on all such shows, there is a requisite little moment of chitchat with the new
contestant before getting down to business.  And here I must confess that I, probably the most show biz savvy of all the civilians that day, graduate of
Carnegie Mellon University Drama Department and one-time production assistant on a major studio motion picture, I, Preston, get thrown by the microphone.  It's
not "mike fright," mind you, I'm not nervous that way, but I wasn't expecting a certain alienating effect, and I did let it give me pause, literally.  The
effect to which I'm referring is the simple fact that Dick Clark is speaking to me from only a few feet away, but HIS VOICE IS COMING OUT OF THE HEAVENS on the
P.A. system.  And then, when I answer him, suddenly MY VOICE IS COMING OUT OF THE HEAVENS, too.  Poor Dick Clark had to ask me that first question twice
before I snapped out of it: "And what do you do sir?  (SILENT PAUSE FROM PJ).  What do you do for a living?"  "Oh!" I suddenly come to, "I work at the YMCA."  And not a moment too soon, and soon enough we're off and running, playing the Game.

Dear old CL had no doubt picked me to be on the show because I was so relaxed and comical at the audition.  But now that I'm actually playing on TV, I'm
simply concentrating on the task at hand.  I mean, I could use that money!  It's not that I'm totally deadpan or anything like that, but I am totally focussed
on racking up those points CL and her staff had advised us about.  I don't know what any other contestant's mental  process might have been, but I can tell you
that each time I heard the little bell that said I'd guessed right -- or that Mr. Deacon had guessed right from my clues -- I would literally flush my mind,
there's no other way to describe it, to clear it immediately for the next word to guess or clue. At the end of each thirty-second integer, if you'd asked me
what the answers were, I couldn't have told you a thing except the very last one I'd just given.  Everything else was a blank.

Remember all those links in the chain of Providence?  At one point, Richard Deacon had to clue me to certain things from "South of the Border."  And one of
those things, as Deacon described it to me, was, "A drink, you drink it and it makes you feel good..."  I guess, "Tequila"?  DING!  Another $50.  (Thanks
again, Talushica.)   FLUSH!  And on to the next word...And on, in fact, to the Winner's Circle.  Sure enough, "Strike It Rich" Richard
had struck again, and this time his fortunate partner was me, about to go for the gold as the show went to commercial and the two of us were taking our seats
before the edifice of money and topics.  CL, her clipboard in hand, came over briefly to join us.  I told her, "I'm afraid I've been something of a
disappointment to you, haven't I?"  She shrugged and admitted, "I thought you'd be a little more animated."  Then she brightened, "But never mind. Good luck!"  
She retreated into the shadows, and Dick Clark stepped back into the light.

Eric Paddon

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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2009, 10:14:42 PM »

First things first: another little moment of chitchat with Dick Clark, who asks me if that was a YMCA or a YWCA where I worked.  It's a YMCA, I reply, but there
are women members too -- a factoid which gets the audience, apparently easily titilated, chuckling.  His misssion accomplished, Clark gives Deacon and me a
quick review of the Pyramid rules, then steps back with the command, "Go!"

The clock starts ticking, the blocks start turning around and revealing their topics, one by one.  Richard Deacon is feeding me the clues (in the form of
lists), and I'm getting the answers right, one by one.  "Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Yvonne DeCarlo..."  "Famous dancers?"  DING!  Deacon, the poor man, has
been getting more nervous as the day has progressed, because he's the one who's constantly had the responsibility of helping us civilian contestants in this
Winner's Circle, so far without anyone claiming the jackpot.  At one point, Richard Deacon says, simply, "Butterfield..." then seems to be stuck for the
rest of the clue he's trying to give me.  Here's another instance of that co-contestant telepathy I mentioned earlier: I end up helping Richard Deacon
feed me the clue, and THEN I give the right answer.  I say, "Eight?"  He quickly says "Yes," and I say, "Movies With Elizabeth Taylor."  DING! and on to the next

I'm still flushing my mind after each "Ding!", so I'm certainly not counting dings, I'm just trying to knock out of the park each ball that Deacon pitches to
me.  Comes the moment when Richard Deacon is listing for my clue, "Birthday presents, Christmas presents, anniversary presents..."  By way of an answer, I'm
saying, "Things you unwrap?  Things with wrapping paper?"  Suddenly, like a ship entering the eye of the hurricane, I realize that the ticking has stopped, but
I'm not hearing either the sour buzzer which says I've failed to get all six topics in sixty seconds, or the music which says I've succeeded.  There is a lot
of restive commotion and voices out in the audience.  What's going on?  

Someone, presumably the producer Bob Stewart, can be heard saying, "Go to commercial!"  Dick Clark comes up and announces that they're going to have to go
to commercial and get a judges' decision.  I ask Richard Deacon if I can turn around yet and look at the block topic I was trying to guess, and he shakes his
head, "No, I wouldn't."  Then Deacon, looking at the block and then turning to Clark, says, "If it were up to me, I'd give it to him."  It is at this moment,
and not a moment before, that suddenly I think to myself, "Well, what do you know?  Maybe I WILL win the big money after all."  What I can't see is that the
topic on the top block behind me says, "THINGS YOU WRAP."  Now, you may remember, CL had warned us up in Ed's office that we had to be very accurate
when we got to that top spot.  And mind you, the show having been on the air only a few weeks, the producers and judges were probably still feeling their way
around their own rules. That's the only reason I can come up with for why they hadn't let me win with my answer of "Things you wrap, things with wrapping paper."  And my
hunch has always been that they immediately regretted not doing so, as soon as they gave it the slightest thought.  (On the videotape of the show, when Clark
announces that they're going to have to get the judges' decision, several people in the audience can clearly be heard starting to boo.)

When we come back from commercial, however, instead of simply awarding me the prize, they have Clark explain that I was clocked with twelve seconds to go when
that last topic came up, "And, we could argue ad infinitum about what was said, what wasn't said...  Instead, the judges have decided to give you another twelve
seconds and another topic..."  Richard Deacon, who has been nibbling his fingers and hanging on Clark's every word, suddenly throws his arms up in the air, with
the clear subtext of, "Oh, my God!  What the hell are they doing?  We're going to have to go through this torture AGAIN?!"  Me, I'm just smiling goofily and
going along with the ride of whatever I'm being told.

So, with Clark's best wishes that we'll be able to resume the momentum of a few minutes ago, Deacon and I dig in for the Big Twelve Seconds.  The clock starts
ticking again, and Richard Deacon says something along the lines of, "Paper plates, funny hats, streamers..." and I guess, "Things at a party?" and this
time I DO hear the music, plus the roar of the crowd.  I'd hit "THINGS AT A PARTY" right on the nose.  (As I mentioned earlier, my hunch has always been
that the producers and judges, having realized their mistake, probably very much WANTED me to win, rather than risk a peasants' revolt right there in the Ed
Sullivan Theater by denying me the prize money they should have given me in the first place.  Consequently, I've always suspected that, when they allotted me
those extra twelve seconds, they chose one of the easier topics they usually used at the beginning of the sixty seconds to get the ball rolling, not one of
the tougher topics reserved for the very last make-or-break moment of the game. I've even amused myself with a fanciful image of the producers and judges on their knees in the control booth, praying, "Oh, please let him get it, please let him get it..."  But the more I think about it nowadays, I wonder.  If they realized they'd been mistaken
in not giving me the prize the first time around, why didn't they just make THAT their "judges' decision" when they came back from commercial?  Would it have
been somehow poor form for them to admit their fallibility to the viewing audience?  Because, if you think about it, they were taking a risk, gambling
that I would get the new topic with the new twelve seconds, IF that's indeed what they wanted to happen.  But for all I really know, they were so close to
things that they DIDN'T realize they'd blown it the first time, and maybe they thought they were being supremely Solomon-like and fair-minded in giving me
another twelve-second shot at the Big Prize.  I wonder.  Is Bob Stewart still around?  I wonder if he'd still remember, if I asked him.)

They always ask the happy winner what he's going to do with the money, and this is no exception.  But they've used up so much time on this last-minute replay
that the sound of music suddenly drowns out my reply when I answer truthfully, "I never thought about it, because I never thought I'd win." In my jubilation, I
stand up and offer to switch seats with Richard Deacon so that I can return the favor.  Kaye Ballard comes over to congratulate me, and I lie through my teeth,
telling her I'm sorry I won so soon because this means now I won't get to play the game with her.  (Minutes earlier, on my way up to the Circle, I'd been
totally sincere when I told nice Mrs. Gingham that I felt sorry that I'd had to beat her, but she shrugged me off with a dear smile.)

Totally exhausted, Richard Deacon stands up and says, "Well, now you can BUY the damn YMCA!"


Among the friends I phoned to share the good news was my former Boston room-mate Larry, then studying Law at Harvard.  When I said, "Larry, I just won the Ten
Thousand Dollar Pyramid," he said, "No shit."  Then, after a pause, he quickly added, "You're going to need a good tax lawyer."  So I asked him, "Are you
studying to be that kind of a lawyer, too?" and Larry answered, "It's the only course I got good grades in."  So, Larry crunched the numbers for me, averaged
out my income over a period of years, with the result that I paid to the government only $1,500.00.  Next, I donated a chunk of the prize-money to my
mother, with whom I'd recently been living, so that she could take care of some Jones family bills that had been piling up.  A year later, I took the remainder
of the prize money with me when I moved from Connecticut to Los Angeles.  And this will tell you all you need to know about inflation: I lived off that
remaining money for a little over a year.  In any case, I always tell people to this day that I came to California "on a grant, from The Ten Thousand Dollar Pyramid."


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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2009, 10:40:41 PM »
Eric - thank you for posting this!  It's an awesome read.  Please pass along my thanks to Preston for agreeing to share it.



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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2009, 11:29:00 PM »
I agree with Ryan! It's a really fun read, really gets the mental images flowing. Pass along our thanks.


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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2009, 12:09:15 AM »
I wish some of the reporters I worked with were half as observant.
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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2009, 01:50:25 AM »
Wow, this could be an article in a major magazine!  Great stuff.  Thanks!

Eric Paddon

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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2009, 02:06:23 AM »
I've been in touch with Preston again, and he appreciates the kind feedback.   And I was also able to successfully jog his memory on Edythe Chan as the name of the "Contestant Lady". :)


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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2009, 08:03:11 AM »
[quote name=\'Eric Paddon\' post=\'219505\' date=\'Jul 5 2009, 02:06 AM\']I've been in touch with Preston again, and he appreciates the kind feedback.   And I was also able to successfully jog his memory on Edythe Chan as the name of the "Contestant Lady". :)[/quote]

Excellent write-up!  Preston definitely should have gotten credit for "Things that are wrapped/unwrapped."  Thanks for sharing.


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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2009, 11:31:14 AM »
That article was a two day trip, but definitely worth the read.

Ian Wallis

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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2009, 11:59:23 AM »
Interesting story - thanks for sharing it.  From reading that, it seems like they were more picky about the top spot during the early years of the show.  Wasn't there a rule later that if what you said contained the answer you were awarded the box?  By saying "things you unwrap", you've said the key word "wrap". IIRC, in later years he would have been awarded the win with no questions.
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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2009, 05:44:59 PM »
Cool story and thanks for sharing! Each successive post had me more and more hooked.
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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2009, 08:21:08 PM »
Here's a stupid question which hasn't been asked yet--does Preston have a copy of his episode?


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1973 10K Pyramid Winner, Preston Jones Tells His Story
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2009, 09:52:12 PM »
It's floating around - I have the episode myself, albeit in terrible video quality - so I'd imagine he could get his hands on it if he wanted it.
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There are letters on the floor. They spell "NOPE".