Break the Bank (1976)

Break the Bank (1976)

Infobox Television
show_name = Break the Bank
genre = Game show
director = Richard S. Kline
starring = Tom Kennedy (1976, daytime)
Jack Barry (1976-7, nighttime)
narrated = Johnny Jacobs (1976, daytime)
Ernie Anderson (1976-7, nighttime)
theme_music_composer = Stu Levin
country = USA
language = English
producer = Dan Enright
location = ABC Television Center
runtime = 30 min.
channel = ABC (1976)
first_aired = April 12, 1976
last_aired = September 11, 1977
imdb_id = 0073968
tv_com_id =

Break the Bank, completely different from the original, debuted on ABC on April 12 1976 with Tom Kennedy as host, but ran for only three months. The show had just started to find its audience when ABC executives abruptly pulled the plug to expand its soap opera block ("One Life to Live" and "General Hospital" were both expanded to 45 minutes). The show jumped to syndication on September 18 1976 and ran for nearly a year. Jack Barry, co-producer of this show with partner Dan Enright, hosted the syndicated series. For the only time in his career, Barry wore tinted eyeglasses during the syndicated series, mainly due to the strong lighting in the studio which hurt his eyes.fact|date=August 2008 Johnny Jacobs announced the ABC Daytime version while Ernie Anderson announced the Jack Barry syndicated run.

The show's theme, "Hustle The Bank", was composed by Stu Levin. It would be used in 1980 on "The Joker's Wild" during its Million Dollar Tournament of Champions, and then as the theme for "Soap World", a short-lived 1982 syndicated series about daytime dramas.


The 70s version bore some similarities to "Hollywood Squares", in that it featured nine celebrities, and pitted two contestants "(male versus female)" against one another. The two took turns calling out numbers on a large gameboard with 20 numbered trilons measuring four rows of five. Each space on the board connected to two different celebrities.

The Board

The 20 spaces on the board consisted of the following::Money Boxes: There were three sets of three money boxes, each box in each set connecting to one another on one side. The ABC money boxes were $100, $200 and $300 denominations, while the syndicated amounts were $100, $300 and $500.:The Wild Card: Identified by a "W" on a sepia-toned rainbow background, this box, once claimed by either contestant, could be used for anything at any time. Only the Wild Card and the Money Boxes could be claimed by questions to connecting celebrities.:The Money Bags: Five in all, scattered across the board, which might or might not connect. If a contestant uncovered a money bag, they had the option of keeping it, which ended their turn, or covering it up and selecting another box. Three money bags would "break the bank". :Blanks: Five of these as well. The only function of the blanks was to end a player's turn any time they uncovered one. The blanks never connect to one another (except by their corners in some cases, though this technically doesn't count as "touching", in the host's case).

When either a Money Box or the Wild Card was selected, a question was asked to the two connecting celebrities, with each one giving an answer- one of which was correct. "(On rare occasions, both stars would give a bluff answer, forcing the question to be discarded for a new one.)" If the contestant picked the right answer they would win the box and their turn would continue, or, if incorrect, the box would "go back to its neutral position" and control of the board would go to the opponent. The "neutral position" rule was later changed to shorten gameplay- the box would instead go to the opponent if the contestant picked the incorrect answer, unless doing so would cause the opponent to win the game by default. Once captured, a box was then augmented with either a mustache or a pair of painted lips, to signify by gender which player captured that box. There were two ways to win a game:
*If one player claimed three like dollar amounts, or "money boxes", they would win three times the money amount that was used for the triple, and a bonus prize.
*Claiming three "money bags" was more strategic. A player had the option of either claiming the box, thereby forfeiting their turn, or covering up the money bag and continue their turn by picking another box.Three money bags would "break the bank", winning the player a jackpot of cash and/or prizes. On the ABC version, the bank was usually a progressive cash jackpot starting at $5,000 and increasing by $500 (later $250) per game until won. On the syndicated version, the bank was always worth $10,000 in prizes, which included a new car."(Another similarity to "Hollywood Squares" was that a game was never won by default. A player could only win a game by picking a correct answer, not by the opponent picking incorrectly.)"

On the ABC version, champions stayed either until defeated or until they won over $20,000. However, champions were allowed to keep up to $25,000.

The ABC version had a straddling format, meaning that games would stop when time ran out in the show and had to be completed on the next episode. In the syndicated version each episode was self-contained: two players competed for the entire episode with multiple games per show. With this format, the player who broke the bank first or won the most games became champion and played the bonus round. If time ran short in the middle of a game, both contestants would alternate turns without questions, and the first player to get three of anything won.

The Bonus Round

The ABC version featured no endgame, but one was added for the syndicated series. Here, the winner chose celebrities, each of whom concealed a different dollar amount. One of them, however, was holding a "BUST" card, which lost all bonus round winnings. The player could stop at any time and keep the bonus round winnings. Accumulating $2,000 or more before finding the "BUST" card augmented the player's bonus round winnings to $5,000.

Rerun/Episode Status

All rerun episodes of this 1976 version still exist. The Game Show Network aired the show during its "dark period" from late 1997 to April 1998. Also in late 1997, Game Show Network aired a few episodes of the syndicated Barry version.

External links

* [ Pictures & Rules of Break the Bank (1976)]
* [ David's Break the Bank '76 Page]
* [ Break the Bank'76 @ Game Show Utopia]

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