Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Jeopardy Behind the Scenes, 1973

I don't know how old I was when I started watching Jeopardy!, but I was pretty young. I remember a college acquaintance of my mother's was on the show some time in the late 1960s when I would have been 8 or 9 years old, and that was after I (and Daughters One, Two and Four) had been watching it for a while, at least in the summers when we were home from school.

Later, that inclination toward what's called trivia led me to College Bowl for several years and a few other brushes with organized question-and-answer institutions that shall remain nameless. These days, I limit myself to occasional evenings with one of our local Trivia Mafia crews (the one at Pizza Luce in Seward, in case you're local: Ruby and Amanda are the best hosts!).

I mention all of this personal trivia about trivia because I saw this photo today of Jeopardy behind the scenes from Retronaut:

I have no idea how those paper cards used to be manipulated back in the day.

Here's what it looked like from the front:

When a contestant called out a dollar amount and category, the cover card would slide up, revealing the question. But I realize now that I have no particular recollection how this manual process worked.

I recall that the show went off the air some time in the mid-1970s, but was back on by 1978 or so because I remember being excited to be able to watch it around midday on the small black and white TV I had in my dorm room.

This fandom site about gameshow sets has a lot of photos over time, including this one, showing that the contestants used to be allowed to sit:

Ah hah! That site also confirmed my recollection that the show came back on in 1978 (after ending in 1974), but it only lasted until March 1979. Then the show was off the air until 1984, when it came back with Alex Trebek hosting. This was also when they made the switch to using CRTs for the questions instead of cards (and it looks like that's also when they started using Korinna for the unfortunate choice of question font).

This article from has some footage of the 1978–79 show, including close-ups of how the answers were revealed (the doors slid up quickly). This video, which is from 1974 or earlier, also shows the doors going up.

And now time to leave this Jeopardy! rabbit hole.

1 comment:

Bill Lindeke said...

Reminds me of the Fenway Park scoreboard.