Jeopardy is on the Air!

GabeStudy Break

Answer: This person was the original host of Jeopardy!

Question: Who is Art Fleming?

Yes, there was a host before Alex Trebek. While the current edition of Jeopardy! has been around since 1984, its predecessor originally aired on NBC on March 30, 1964 with Art Fleming as host. How did the iconic show begin?

In the 1950s there were numerous quiz show scandals as producers were accused of providing answers to contestants and rigging the results. Created by Merv Griffin, Jeopardy! turned the quiz format on its head by asking contestants to give their answers in the form of a question. The show caught on and enjoyed a successful daytime run from 1964 to 1975.

(By the way, Griffin also wrote the iconic Jeopardy! theme song, earning himself approximately $70 million in royalties over the years.)

Sagging ratings in the mid ‘70s saw the show go off the air for a few years, but in 1984, Alex Trebek was tapped to host the revival. Trebek’s version of Jeopardy! became one of the most popular game shows in television history, as well as becoming the target of numerous parodies.

Eugene Levy played “Alex Trebel” on SCTV; Family Guy, Cheers, Mama’s Family, and The X-Files have all included Trebek-parodying storylines, and even Weird Al Yankovic wrote a parody song. The good-spirited Trebek thinks the parodies are hilarious, and especially liked Eugene’s Levy’s take. “I thought Eugene captured the private horror a game show host experiences trying to keep things moving on a day where everything is going wrong,” he says.

Probably the best known Jeopardy! parody for today’s generation are the segments produced by NBC’s Saturday Night Live, featuring Will Ferrell as Trebek. The “contestants” tend to be extreme idiotic versions of celebrities who drive Ferrell’s Trebek to his breaking  point.

What is your favorite Jeopardy! parody? Is Jeopardy! your favorite game show and if not, what is? Have you made your own Jeopardy! game with your students?