Watch the unaired pilot episode from 1964 for the first time

Before becoming America’s favorite game show, “Jeopardy!” was a “very unusual” trivia competition vying for a spot on NBC.

The multi-generational series premiered on March 30, 1964, with host Art Fleming, meaning “Danger!” just turned 58 years old. To celebrate the anniversary of its launch – and after a headline year for the 39-time Emmy-winning show – “Jeopardy!” has opened up its vault to finally share the never-aired pilot, which was filmed just before its television premiere.

Aside from the addition of color and its evolving set aesthetic, little has changed about the show, including the iconic “Final Jeopardy!” music.

Fleming, who hosted between 1964 and 1979, introduced potential viewers to the all-new format. “It’s a very unusual question and answer show, you know. We give the participants the answers and all they have to do is make up the question,” he says with a grin.

And as usual, three players are introduced to the audience right at the beginning of the program. But despite her believably whimsical lineup of contestants — including a “Connecticut artist” who’s a hobby plumber and a woman who met her husband “on HAM radio” — the featured “returning champion” reveals that the pilot was never intended to be broadcast.

Danger!  pilot
“This is a very unusual question-and-answer show,” says original “Jeopardy!” host Art Fleming during a pilot filmed before its March 30, 1964 premiere.

“It was written to show what the game would be like with a returning champion,” the show explained in a comment on YouTube.

Further down the line, additional details point to their pre-planned responses—designed to show how mistakes and blunders could play out.

“While we’re not sure, it feels like contestants were instructed to use wrong answers on Final Jeopardy! to give,” they reported. “William Penn’s obviously wrong answers and ‘famous monster’s’ ‘non-specific’ answer was a way for the production to show how Final Jeopardy! could play out in different scenarios. It’s also interesting that Art didn’t “pay off” the Dracula answer until well after the game ended.”

Art Fleming on Danger
Art Fleming hosted “Jeopardy!” from 1964 and 1979 before the show picked up for syndication in 1984 with new host Alex Trebek.
"Danger!" pilot yet
Response hints were, on average, much shorter than today.

The show has made several other tweaks over the years, its YouTube comments noted. The answer hints are longer, players have a little less time to spit out their question, and the losing participant gets a little more game advantage. They also switched from sitting to standing – to look more “assertive” – ​​when Alex Trebek took over the helm in 1984 after a five-year hiatus from broadcasting.

The biggest change, of course, has been the inflation rate – a stunning 819.46% increase since 1964. Watch the unaired pilot episode from 1964 for the first time

Dais Johnston

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