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Jeopardy with Alex Trebek

Updated on June 13, 2015

History of Jeopardy

This is Jeopardy! How many times have you heard that? I would wager every man, woman, and child in America has watched Jeopardy at one time or another. For forty-seven years Jeopardy has been the show where contestants are given the answer and have to ask the question!

When created by Merv Griffin back in 1964 the format was different from other game shows and caught on quickly. The Board of Categories could contain anything from answers about the ABC's to Zoology and anything in between. Originally Jeopardy was a daytime game show and it wasn't until 1974 that it became a nighttime show. Imagine, 47 years! That's a long time for any show, never mind a game show. Originally, Art Fleming was the host of Jeopardy. Hard to remember that, after all it does seem like Alex Trebek and Jeopardy go hand in hand. Alex Trebek and announcer Johnny Gilbert started in 1984.

Jeopardy has seen many changes and revisions over the years. One of those revisions included the Tournament of Champions. The year's top fifteen winners compete against each other over ten shows and the winner walks away with $250,000...not a bad take for playing a game show.

Other gimmicks used on Jeopardy included the Senior Tournament for those over 50, Teenage Tournament, Celebrity Jeopardy, College Jeopardy, Teacher Jeopardy, Million Dollar Masters, Kids Week, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

Jeopardy has won 29 Daytime Emmy Awards for both Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show and Outstanding Game Show Host. According to Wikipedia in 2009 TV Guide ranked Jeopardy as number two in the 50 Greatest Game Shows. (I'm going to have to try to find out what number one is!)

Would you believe there is a fan created archive of Jeopardy? It is created by fans for fans and can be found here You can also create your own Jeopardy computer game using templates found on the Internet and using MS PowerPoint so you can have your own Jeopardy PowerPoint. Many school teachers have done just that. The quick action and participation is a great classroom game that generates interest along with education.

Trivia Facts About Jeopardy

Five shows are taped on Monday and five shows are taped on Tuesday. That would be two weeks worth of shows in ten days!

In the first show contestants could buzz in at any time. In the second season with Alex Trebek it was changed so that contestants had to wait until Alex finished giving the answer. If a contestant buzzed in too soon he was (and is) locked out.

In the beginning after winning five episodes a contestant was retired.

On the 19 January 1993 program, then Air Force Lt. Col. Daryl Scott won a game with only $1. He won another $13,401 the next day.

The most common Jeopardy category is Before & After followed by Literature, Science, World Origins, American History, State Capitols, World History, Business and Industry, Potpourri and World Geography, in that order.

Final Jeopardy's top category is U.S. Presidents.

Most of the above trivia was taken from (

Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek

Alex Trebek

Everybody loves Alex! He's been in our homes so many times and we play Jeopardy with him almost every night. As everyone knows, Alex is from Canada (born 1940, in Ontario) and became a naturalized American Citizen in 1998 and now lives in Studio City, California.

His career started with his first job at the Canadian Broadcasting Company where he reported national news on radio and tv, but it was his job as game show host on "Pitfall" that led to others and Jeopardy!

Alex has appeared on many tv shows, mostly as himself, all due to Jeopardy. He was even on the Simpsons. Interesting Alex trivia...when did he shave his mustache? That would be 2001 after 30 years!

In addition to his Emmy Awards, Alex has been awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In addition to game show host, Alex is a just an all round good guy. He is active in World Vision, a charitable organization helping children, in 1995 he and his crew became involved with the USO to boost soldiers morale, he promotes the learning of geography to children both here and in Canada. He also hosts the National Spelling Bee in Canada each year.

Alex owns a racehorse and a winery called Creston Vineyards

Johnny Gilbert
Johnny Gilbert | Source

Johnny Gilbert

Johnny Gilbert, born in 1924, was an entertainer and nightclub singer, before he began hosting game shows. He was the host of Music Bingo and Words and Music. In 1963 he was chosen to replace Don Pardo as the announcer on The Price Is Right. He did other game shows and even hosted a local TV show in Ohio.

In 1984 when Alex Trebek began hosting Jeopardy Johnny was selected to be the announcer and audience host, a job he's held ever since. Can you imagine anyone else saying, "This is Jeopardy!"

As with everyone, there is an official Johnny Gilbert web site. You can see it by clicking here.

Ken Jennings

What article about Jeopardy would be complete without Ken Jennings! Ken holds the record for the longest wining streak on Jeopardy, 74 games.

According to Wikipedia:

His total earnings on Jeopardy! are $3,172,700, consisting of $2,520,700 over his 74 wins, a $2,000 second-place prize in his 75th appearance, a $500,000 second-place prize in the Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions, as well as half of a $300,000 prize in the IBM Challenge.

Ken, a computer scientist, was born in Washington in 1974. He was living in Salt Lake while taping the Jeopardy shows and commuted back and forth (remember ten shows are taped in two weeks so he didn't go back and forth daily).

Ken attributes his success on Jeopardy to reading and curiosity.

Jeopardy Watson Video

What about Watson?

Probably one of the most talked about events on Jeopardy was the appearance of Watson. Watson is an artificial intelligence computer system consisting of 90 servers, that can understand natural language and answer a question.

Watson had access to 200 million pages of disk space. According to Wikipedia, The sources of information for Watson include encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri, newswire articles, and literary works.

So Watson, an IBM computer was set to go on Jeopardy. The best contestants to play against Watson included our own Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. (Brad didn't play as long as Ken on Jeopardy but holds the record as the most money awarded on a game show).

The game was played as usual with Watson receiving his clues electronically. It was interesting to watch and there were times when it looked like Watson might lose. While the human players were often faster than Watson. Watson didn't recognize human responses and at one point repeated a question asked by Ken Jennings. However, Watson still won the first game with a lead of about $25,000. In the second game Watson bested the other two by winning a two day total about $50,000 more than each of them.

Another interesting and innovative Jeopardy moment!

Humor in Jeopardy

From Stupid Game Show Answers:

Hedda Tesman, Helen Alving, Knut Brovik
Response: Who are three people that have never been in my kitchen?

[In craps, the numbers you will need to roll an]Easy 10.
Response: What are 9 and 1?

If a Japanese "isha" (doctor) asks you to stick out your "shita", he means this.
Q: What is your behind?

This nursery rhyme was based on actual events at a 1900 schoolhouse.
Response: What is 'There once was a man from Nantucket?'

George Bernard Shaw called this condition "the greatest of evils and the worst of crimes."
Response: What is marriage?

Saturday Night Live loves to parody Jeopardy with it's famous Celebrity Jeopardy. You can find video clips of almost all of their parodies on many websites including YouTube.

I've only scratched the surface of this great show and some of its stars and components. You have to watch it to appreciate not only Alex but the contestants. I haven't delved into the contestants but believe me you can find a cross-section of people and children from all over America. You can sit in your living room and tell them what the right question is or be amazed when you find out you have no clue what they're talking about. It is a truly entertaining half hour.

I can only hope Jeopardy continues for another forty years. Then the answer might be "the game show that's been on TV for almost 100 years"....response: What is Jeopardy.

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Thanks Marsh. I'm a big Jeopardy fan. My husband waits for 7:00 every night to watch it!

    • MarshFish profile image

      Marshall Fish 2 years ago

      Fun hub! I enjoyed reading it. Excellent work, Mary!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Carol...we do the same...every night! It's the best way to "hone" your brain skills and not make a fool out of yourself. I am happy to share the information.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      We try to watch Jeopardy almost everyday...And hone our brain skills. It is quick moving and fun to try to answer all questions. You did a great job on this hub and covered it all. Thanks for sharing the information.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Jeopardy is one of my favorite shows as well Pagesvoice. Alex is such a gentleman and it is such fun to try to answer the questions -- correctly -- in time. I like the teens show because the questions are easier ;)

      Thanks for reading.

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 5 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      Voted up, awesome and interesting. You picked one of my all time favorite shows to highlight and you did such a wonderfully superb job in presenting it. I particularly enjoy the kids, teens and college shows, but my favorite is when they have on the celebrities. Some who you think will be great end up instead being horrible contestants.

      My least favorite was when Watson played. That's strange, considering I live in the town where IBM was founded. I found the Watson segments, less than stellar shows.

      During summer reruns I try to see if I can remember some of the old answers, but alas, I fail miserably.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Yup Sinea, I wish I was holding up as good as Alex ;)

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

      This is a great hub! We love Jeopardy in our household and watch it almost every night. I knew it had been on a long time but 47 years? Wow. Alex is lookin' good. Voted up and awesome.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Exactly Effie. I mean if you can answer two Jeopardy questions correctly that makes you smart, right? We're always on the same wavelength.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Tillie....Love this game show. 47 years? Wow. This is one of those games we can play in the privacy of our home and feel like a "Genius," if we get 2 correct!....because the wrong ones don't count!! LOL

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Phoebe I think half the fun of Jeopardy is trying to get the answers right before the contestants, especially if you're doing it with family.

      Alipuckett I agree Jeopardy is educational. Glad you liked my hub.

      Bob, how did I know what your favorite part of my piece would be! How interesting, you should write about your stint on Merv's show!

      Michele I can't believe this hub was better than watching Jeopardy but glad you thought so!

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      I love this hub. We watch Jeopardy now and then, but this hub was much better then then watching it now and then. Thumbs up!!

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Ha,ha,ha...still laughing over the "hoe" slip up. Few in the UK would get that, but I lived in the US for years and read US detective books all the time...lots of "hoe - or ho's - are found within the pages.

      I remember Jeopardy so well, yet I haven't seen it for probably 30 years. I had no idea Merv Griffin invented it, I remember him being the richest man on TV at one time...and I was on his show once in LA.

      Interesting article...isn't it great what we find on HP!?


    • alipuckett profile image

      alipuckett 5 years ago

      Wow. It's hard to believe Jeopardy has been on for nearly 50 years! It's a great show. Always interesting and educational. Great hub! Voted up!

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 5 years ago

      I love this show... my family and I used to watch it and shout our answers. We would even keep track of our scores on paper. It was a lot of fun.