Sunday, February 19, 2006

Grab Bag

I'd like to use the vessel that is the Jeopardy blog for musings on the weird and wonderful world of said game show. And the more random the better (hence the title which is a direct lift from a regular category).

Part 1 of an occasional series focuses on neither the host (I'm sure our hostess Jess has that base covered) nor the contestants (er, ditto) but rather...the announcer.

For months I had become curious as to the back story of this Johnny Gilbert character who Alex immediately thanks at the start of each show. In my mind, I liked to build him up as some down and out who Alex took pity on in an LA studio back lot. For any Alan Partridge fans out there, it would have been akin to Alan hearing Glen Ponder playing in that Norwich wine bar. Alan offered Glen the position of house band leader (here's the gag - their name changed each episode) before the classic scene in series two where Alan sacks Glen after he fails to invite him to a party. Glen claims that Alan wouldn't have passed the stringent dress code ("no sports casual") before we're witness to Alan's rage ("you're sacked! You are the subject of a sacking!"). But I digress. And this is what I've learned (with thanks to IMDb)...

"One of television's legendary and beloved game show announcers, Johnny Gilbert got his start in show business in high school as a singer, comedian and master of ceremonies. He soon toured the nightclub circuit as a featured attraction; he even parlayed his success into an recorded an album of pop standards. Soon, he delved into the world of television, where he worked at stations in Nashville and New Orleans. In 1958, he hosted his first TV game show, "Music Bingo" (1958). However, he is best known for his announcing duties on game shows. His first successful game show came during the ABC run of "The Price is Right" (1956). After a few hosting duties for unsuccessful game shows, and several locally-produced programs in Los Angeles, Gilbert settled into his role as game show announcer.

His best-known announcing duties include "The Joker's Wild" (1972), "The $10,000 Pyramid" (1973), "Supermarket Sweep" (1990) and "Jeopardy!" (1984). He also served as announcer for many TV awards shows, Dick Clark specials and Circus of the Stars specials."

As you can tell, they rather skirt over his recurring role on Jeopardy. Hopefully this posting readdresses the balance somewhat and if I get to see what he looks like one day, I will have been subject to not so much a sacking as a sighting. And this is why: at the age of 82, Johnny Gilbert is believed to be the oldest active game show announcer in the business. Here's (to you) Johnny...

1 comment:

Jess said...

Any post that can mention 'Circus of the Stars' in a somewhat serious tone, belongs in the "About Last Night's Jeopardy" Hall of Fame, a hall being started here and now. My only hope is that Johnny one day be able to see it (er, read about it) and perhaps come and visit this Hall of Fame.