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History of Jeopardy!

The original idea for Jeopardy! arose from the quiz show scandals of the late 1950's.  Merv Griffin's idea was that if the producers of the shows affected by the scandal were giving them the answers to the questions, why not just give the players the answers, and have them come up with the question?  This idea was strongly reinforced by the title of the original pilot for the show: "What's the Question?"

When the show was bought by NBC, it was renamed Jeopardy!, and Art Fleming was cast as the host, with Don Pardo announcing.  In the original NBC run, which lasted from March 30, 1964 to January 3, 1975, as well as in syndication September 9, 1974 to September 7, 1975, the format of the show was similar to that of today.  The difference was mainly in two things.  First off, the game board, which we now know as a video wall, was much smaller, and manually done.  Also, the dollar values were different back then, with the Jeopardy! round questions valued at $10, $20, $30, $40, and $50, and Double Jeopardy! questions at $20, $40, $60, $80, and $100.   Interestingly enough, the show that replaced Jeopardy! on NBC's daytime schedule was Wheel of Fortune.

Jeopardy! was revived on NBC from October 2, 1978 to March 2, 1979.  Art Fleming returned as host, but John Harlan replaced Don Pardo as the show's announcer.  The format was considerably revised for this version of the show.   It played like the classic for the first round, but then for the second round, only the top two scorers played, and the bottom scorer was eliminated from the competition.   The top scorer in round two moved on to a "Super Jeopardy!" round.   Here, the contestant played for $5,000.  They did this by answering five consecutive questions in a row on the board, either across, up and down, or diagonally.

In 1984, Jeopardy! returned in the format we all know and love.  Alex Trebek became the host, and Johnny Gilbert became the announcer.   This version was picked up for syndication, and is distributed by King World.   More on this version on the rest of this site.

In the summer of 1990, the show Super Jeopardy! ran on ABC.   This was a tournament of former Jeopardy! champions, including one champion from the original Jeopardy! with Art Fleming.  The game was played like the regular Jeopardy! airing at the time, with Alex Trebek hosting, but with two exceptions.  First off, for the first round of competition, four players played in a game.  Secondly, the game was played for points, not money.  Point values were 200, 400, 600, 800, and 1,000 in the Jeopardy! round, and then 500, 1,000, 1,500, 2,000, and 2,500 in Double Jeopardy!.  The champion of this tournament won $250,000.


A Salute to Game Shows 1999-2001 Ben F. Schumin, Chris-Place.com.  All rights reserved.

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