Little Bits of History

Please Be Sure It Is in the Form of a Question

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 30, 2015

Jeopardy! board

March 30, 1964: A new game show airs on NBC. Jeopardy! was created by Merv Griffin with inspiration from his wife, Julann. It was originally called What’s the Question? and was hosted by Art Fleming. He hosted from this date until January 3, 1975 and then from October 2, 1978 until March 2, 1979 and never missed a taping. During his tenure, he earned two Emmy Award nominations. While Fleming was hosting, Don Pardo narrated from 1964 until 1975 and then John Harlen took over from the 1978-79 years. These years covered a total of 2,900 shows.

The premise of the game lies in the question/answer format. The answers are revealed when the contestant selects a category and dollar amount. The three players than must ring in for a chance to provide a question for which the answer would be correct. If they are correct, they earn the dollar amount displayed and if they are wrong, they lose that amount of money. There are Daily Doubles hidden on the board and only the person who selected the square has a chance to play and has to choose the dollar amount of the wager. After the first round, dollar amounts are doubled for the second round with six new categories. Final Jeopardy! has all three contestants playing (if they have any money to wager) and after the answer is revealed, they have thirty seconds to formulate the question.

Jeopardy! went into daily syndication on September 10, 1984 and remains so. Since that time, Alex Trebek has been host and Johnny Gilbert has been the announcer. In that time, there has been nearly 7,000 shows (6,829 at the end of the 2014 season). Trebek, a Canadian-American, hosted other game shows before coming to Jeopardy! The show has won a record 31 Daytime Emmy Awards and is the only game show to have received a Peabody Award. In 2013, the show was ranked as number 45 of the 60 greatest shows in American history, as published in TV Guide. There have been regional adaptations for broadcast in other countries. Their 31st daily syndicated season began on September 15, 2014.

Along with the regular show, there are special events staged. Beginning in 1985, an annual Tournament of Champions would bring the top fifteen champions since the previous tournament together to complete. The Teen Tournament began as a once-a-year event in 1987 and the College Championship was instituted in the 1988-89 season. This is played by undergrad students from American colleges and universities. The Teachers Tournament and Celebrity Jeopardy were added as were some special events such as Super Jeopardy!, specials dedicated to the number of season on the air, reunion tournaments, and international tournaments. Ken Jennings holds the record for the longest winning streak (in the early days, contestants were retired after five wins). Brad Rutter is the all-time money winner taking in $4,355,102 during his tenure.

Unless it’s an emergency, don’t bother me after 6:00 p.m. and on weekends. – Merv Griffin

It’s very important in life to know when to shut up. You should not be afraid of silence. – Alex Trebek

I think what makes ‘Jeopardy!’ special is that, among all the quiz and game shows out there, ours tends to encourage learning. – Alex Trebek

It’s so much fun that the money is just icing on the cake. There seems to be a lot of icing. – Ken Jennings

Also on this day: Pencil plus – In 1858, erasers were added to pencils.
Seward’s Folly – In 1867, the US purchased Alaska from Russia.
It’s a Knock Out – In 1842, a general anesthetic was first used for surgery.
Underground – In 1954, Toronto’s Yonge Street subway opened.
Fifteen – In 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was adopted.

I’ll Take Television for $200, Alex

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 30, 2010

Ken signing in on Jeopardy! over his run

November 30, 2004: Ken Jennings make Jeopardy! history when he finally loses during his 75th game after winning $2,522,700. He went on to win another $500,000 on the Ultimate Tournament of Champions for the 2004 season. Jeopardy! is an internationally televised game of answers and questions. Three contestants vie for top earnings giving the proper questions to the answers provided. Jeopardy! entered it’s twentieth season in 2003 and at that time changed the rule concerning returning champions. Prior to 2003 the limit was five appearances after which the champion was retired and three new contestants would begin play the next show.

Jennings was born in Edmonds, Washington but grew up in Seoul, South Korea and Singapore. He is a Mormon and served two years of missionary work in Madrid, Spain. He worked as a software programmer and also wrote and edited questions for the National Academic Quiz Tournaments.

Jennings said he practiced for the show by reading, watching the televised program, making flashcards, and practicing using the buzzer. In fact, he has said that it is the buzzer that makes or breaks the contestants. If you ring too soon, you are blocked out for a short time and if you wait too long a competitor has won the right to give the question. The longer he was on the show, the more time the new contestants were given to practice using the buzzer to help offset this advantage.

Jennings began his run on the quiz show on June 2, 2004 and continued through 74 wins that spanned two seasons. He worked in Utah and flew to California where the show is taped every other week for two days, Tuesday and Wednesday. He finally lost to Nancy Zerg when he missed a Daily Double and then Final Jeopardy for a loss of $10,400. The Final Jeopardy business answer he missed was H&R Block, giving the wrong question as FedEx. Both companies used him as a spokesperson soon after his loss.

“Most of this firm’s 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year.” – Jeopardy! answer Ken missed

“It’s so much fun that the money is just icing on the cake. There seems to be a lot of icing.” – Ken Jennings

“It’s boring to have the same guy win. I’m actively rooting against myself.” – Ken Jennings

“Can You Beat Ken. My experience is that a 15 year old can sometimes know more than his dad. Trivia has an all-age attraction.” – Ken Jennings

“Being a nerd really pays off sometimes.” – Ken Jennings

Also on this day, in 1934 the Flying Scotsman reaches speeds of 100 mph.