A gameshow aired in the mid eighties that predated WWTBaM and the clones that followed. It was essentially a cross between Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune, with a massive cash prize thrown in. Not the most stable format in the world, but just like any other big money show, if you knew someone was going for big money, it was at least watchable. It was even rated #1 in the primetime Nielsen ratings for a short period of time. The show bears a resemblance in title, but not in format, to It's Your Chance of a Lifetime! The stats and format of the show follow:
Lifespan: January 1986 - September 1987
Host: Jim Lange
Announcer: Johnny Gilbert
Producers: Bob Synes, Jay Feldman, Scott Stone
Two married couples compete against each other in the first round, which has multiple stages that repeat for 3 rounds, where the couple with the most money moves on to the Bonus Round.
The first stage involved solving clue words that gave hints to a multi-word puzzle (a la WoF, only not quite as long.) The clue word would fill itself in automatically one letter at a time, and the first couple to buzz in and guess the word correctly won $25 and a chance to go to the keyboard, explained below. If a couple missed their guess, the word continued to fill in, with only the other couple eligible to buzz in.
The keyboard wasn't any keyboard format commonly used today (such as QWERTY or Dvorak-style keyboards), but rather was 3 rows of nine keys each, arranged alphabetically in the rows, with a star key as the last key. When a player reached the keyboard, the keys corresponding to letters in the puzzle lit up (the Star stood for any punctuation that may have been in the puzzle). The couple recieved two presses of the keys, where any letter pressed revealed all of that letter in the puzzle (which also added $25 to the value for solving the puzzle ($50 in round 2, $100 in round 3) per letter revealed, again a la WoF.) One letter lit up on the keyboard corresponded to no letters; this key was referred to as the "Stinger", and ended any remaining turn at the keyboard (including the subsequent guessing of the puzzle) for that team.
The team with the most money after 3 rounds of play moved on to the Bonus Round, which played as follows:
The couple is first sealed into an isolation booth, and then given a choice between 3 categories to play the Bonus Round with. The couple has to correctly name 6 words in that category, with the same format as the main game, with letters filling in one by one until they guess the word. The couple has 60 seconds to accomplish this in, and if they do, they are paid according to the following pay table:
First Win: $5,000 and the choice to leave the show and return the next day.
Second Win: $5,000 more (for a total of $10,000) and the choice to leave or return.
Third Win:. $1,000,000 (In the first season, paid off entirely in cash, the second season divided it into $900,000 in cash and $100,000 in fabulous prizes, including a luxury car, a trip around the world, and furniture for the whole house). The team is retired after this win.
If the team loses at either the bonus round or in the main game to another couple, all money they won in a previous win is forfeited.
Sources: All info regarding format, hosts, etc. was acquired from http://www.loogslair.com/gameshow/rules/1mcoal.html .