On this date in 1964, “Jeopardy!” debuted on NBC.
Here are some things you may not have known about the long-running game show.
The original incarnation ran as part of NBC’s daytime schedule. It was hosted by Art Fleming with announcer Don Pardo. This version of the show ran for 11 seasons and 2,753 episodes before being canceled in 1975.
The format of “Jeopardy!” is famous for providing answers and having the contestants come up with the question. The format had been used in a short-lived CBS game show in the 1940s, but hadn’t been used since. “Jeopardy”’s creator, Merv Griffin, said his wife came up with the idea of providing answers. Griffin’s original idea had 100 clues per game, which was reduced to the current two rounds of 30 clues. Griffin initially planned to call the show “What’s the Question,” but changed it before production began. Griffin also intended to require contestants to be grammatically correct with their questions: Responses dealing with people had to start “Who is …”, places “Where is …” and things “What is …” but that requirement was quickly jettisoned once it was determined to slow gameplay.
In 1964, the clues in the first round had an assigned value of $10 to $50 and $20 to $100 in Double Jeopardy.
Following its 1975 cancelation, there were two short-lived versions of the show before it was retooled for syndication in 1984.
The syndicated version also saw the show’s second host come aboard: Alex Trebek. Trebek has been partnered with announcer Johnny Gilbert from the beginning. Another change was an increase in the values of the clues. From 1984-2001, the first round clues ranged from $100 to $500 and the Double Jeopardy round ranged from $200 to $1,000. In 2001, the values for all clues were doubled.
One thing that didn’t change from the original 1964 version is that contestants were allowed to ring in with their response at any time. This made for a jumbled, confusing game, so after the first syndicated season, the rule was changed to force contestants to wait until the host has completed reading the clue.
Contestants who finish Double Jeopardy with no money do not participate in the Final Jeopardy round. A recently changed rule means if two players are tied after Final Jeopardy, those two players have tie-breaker clues until someone answers correctly. If players are tied for second and third place, their scores heading into the final round are the tie-breaker. If all contestants finish the final round with no money, there is no winner. In 1993, Daryl Scott had the lowest winning score in the show’s history with $1. He came back on the next episode to win more that $13,000. Two other players have since won “Celebrity Jeopardy!” with $1.
Until 2003, contestants were limited to five games. Shortly after that rule was abolished, Ken Jennings went on to win 74 consecutive games. He has won a total of $3,442,700 on “Jeopardy!”
However, Brad Rutter, who was a five-time winner before the rule change, returned during various tournaments to pass Jennings’ total winnings with more than $4.5 million.
Our question: On the television series “Cheers,” the character of Cliff Clavin appears as a contestant on “Jeopardy!” What is his response to the “Final Jeopardy” clue: “Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwartz and Lucille LeSueur”? Bonus points if you know the correct response.
Today is National Doctors’ Day in the United States.
It’s also Manatee Appreciation Day, Pencil Day and Take a Walk in the Park Day.
It’s the birthday of artist Vincent Van Gogh, musician Eric Clapton, musician Tracy Chapman and rapper MC Hammer.
This week in 1964, the top song in the U.S. was “She Loves You” by The Beatles.
The No. 1 movie was “The Pink Panther,” while the novel “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” by John le Carre topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.
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