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Johnny Gilbert

Johnny Gilbert

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John L. "Johnny" Gilbert III (born July 13, 1924) is an American show business
Show business
Show business, sometimes shortened to show biz, is a vernacular term for all aspects of entertainment. The word applies to all aspects of the entertainment industry from the business side to the creative element ....

 personality who has worked mainly on television game show
Game show
A game show is a type of radio or television program in which members of the public, television personalities or celebrities, sometimes as part of a team, play a game which involves answering questions or solving puzzles usually for money and/or prizes...

s. Originally a nightclub
Nightclub
A nightclub is an entertainment venue which usually operates late into the night...

 singer and entertainer, he has hosted and announced a number of game shows from various eras, dating as far back as the 1950s. He has become known primarily for his work as the announcer
Announcer
An announcer is a presenter who makes "announcements" in an audio medium or a physical location.-Television and other media:Some announcers work in television production , radio or filmmaking, usually providing narrations, news updates, station identification, or an introduction of a product in...

 and audience host for the syndicated version of the quiz show Jeopardy!
Jeopardy!
Griffin's first conception of the game used a board comprising ten categories with ten clues each, but after finding that this board could not be shown on camera easily, he reduced it to two rounds of thirty clues each, with five clues in each of six categories...

 since its debut in 1984.

Early life


Gilbert was born in Newport News, Virginia
Newport News, Virginia
Newport News is an independent city located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia. It is at the southeastern end of the Virginia Peninsula, on the north shore of the James River extending southeast from Skiffe's Creek along many miles of waterfront to the river's mouth at Newport News...

. While he was still in high school, he began his career as the regular vocalist for a dance band that toured the Virginia area. Upon graduation, he became the master of ceremonies
Master of Ceremonies
A Master of Ceremonies , or compere, is the host of a staged event or similar performance.An MC usually presents performers, speaks to the audience, and generally keeps the event moving....

 for the Sky Way club in Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Florida in terms of both population and land area, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. It is the county seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968...

. From there, he went on to perform full-time at various nightclubs throughout the United States. Gilbert also joined the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

's Seventh Army Special Services, where he was cast as the lead in the military musical comedy Xanadu: The Marco Polo Musical
Xanadu: The Marco Polo Musical
Xanadu: The Marco Polo Musical is an original musical written and produced in 1953 by Seventh Army Special Services in Germany, the first of the numerous stage musicals, film musicals and songs inspired in part by the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem, Kubla Khan with its familiar opening lines:In the...

. Upon returning to the United States, he continued to sing and entertain at nightclubs, until he received his first television assignment as a singer and emcee on WDSU
WDSU
WDSU, virtual channel 6, is the NBC-affiliated television station for the New Orleans, Louisiana television market. It is owned by Hearst Television, which in turn is wholly owned by the Hearst Corporation. It broadcasts on UHF digital channel 43...

 in New Orleans.

Career


Gilbert's first role on national television was as the host of a game show called Music Bingo, which ran for two years on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 and ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

. His popularity on that show led him to record an album and several singles. From there, Gilbert went on to emcee the game show Words and Music on KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

In 1963, Gilbert was selected by Mark Goodson
Mark Goodson
Mark Goodson was an American television producer who specialized in game shows.-Life and early career:...

 to replace Don Pardo
Don Pardo
Dominick George "Don" Pardo is an American radio and television announcer. He is best known as the voice of the long-running late night sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live....

 as the announcer and audience host for the original Bill Cullen
Bill Cullen
William Lawrence Francis "Bill" Cullen was an American radio and television personality whose career spanned five decades...

-hosted version of The Price Is Right when it moved from NBC to ABC. From there, he was contracted by Avco Broadcasting to host his own local talk/variety show, The Johnny Gilbert Show, which aired on WLWD-TV (now WDTN
WDTN
WDTN, virtual channel 2, is the NBC-affiliated television station for Ohio's Miami Valley. Licensed to Dayton, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 50 from a transmitter in the Frytown section of the city. The station can also be seen on Time Warner Cable channel 2 and in...

) in Dayton, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Dayton is the 6th largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County, the fifth most populous county in the state. The population was 141,527 at the 2010 census. The Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 841,502 in the 2010 census...

. He continued with that show for two years, until he left Dayton on short notice to move to New York, where he became the host of the Metromedia
Metromedia
Metromedia was a media company that owned radio and television stations in the United States from 1956 to 1986 and owned Orion Pictures from 1986-1997.- Overview :...

-produced game show Fast Draw
Fast Draw (game show)
Fast Draw was a game show hosted by now-Jeopardy! announcer Johnny Gilbert for syndication from May 25 to Fall 1968 and was distributed by Warner Brothers/Seven Arts Television....

. His slot was then given to Phil Donahue
Phil Donahue
Phillip John "Phil" Donahue is an American media personality, writer, and film producer best known as the creator and host of The Phil Donahue Show. The television program, also known as Donahue, was the first to use a talk show format. The show had a 26-year run on U.S...

, who at that time was working as a reporter in WLWD-TV's news department.

Following his year-long run on Fast Draw, Gilbert was contacted by Bing Crosby Productions to host the game show Beat the Odds, produced out of Los Angeles by Bill Carruthers
Bill Carruthers
Bill Carruthers , born in Detroit, Michigan, was a television executive who gained his first fame as the director of the Ernie Kovacs-helmed game show, Take a Good Look, in the early 1960s. He went on to be the director on The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game before starting his own production...

. Afterward, he went on to host the local weekday program Dialing for Dollars
Dialing for Dollars
Dialing for Dollars was a franchised format local television program in the United States and Canada, popular in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.-Format:...

 for two and one-half years. Gilbert also served as the announcer and audience host for Dinah Shore
Dinah Shore
Dinah Shore was an American singer, actress, and television personality...

's syndicated daily talk show
Dinah!
Dinah! is a daytime talk show hosted by singer and actress Dinah Shore, which aired in American syndication markets through 20th Century Fox Television from its premiere on September 9, 1974 until the summer of 1980...

, which ran from 1974 until 1980.

Other game shows for which Gilbert has announced over the years include The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime
The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime
The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime is an American game show which offered a $1 million grand prize to winning contestants. Based on a late 1970s unsold game show pilot titled The Letter Machine, the show aired in syndication from January 6, 1986 until September 11, 1987...

, The $25,000 Pyramid
Pyramid (game show)
Pyramid is an American television game show which has aired several versions. The original series, The $10,000 Pyramid, debuted March 26, 1973 and spawned seven subsequent Pyramid series...

, The $100,000 Pyramid
Pyramid (game show)
Pyramid is an American television game show which has aired several versions. The original series, The $10,000 Pyramid, debuted March 26, 1973 and spawned seven subsequent Pyramid series...

, Anything For Money
Anything For Money
Anything For Money was a television game show hosted by Fred Travalena and announced by Johnny Gilbert which ran in syndication from September 17, 1984 to September 1985...

, Blackout
Blackout (game show)
Blackout is an American game show that aired on CBS from January 4 to April 1, 1988. The pilot was hosted by former Entertainment Tonight anchor Robb Weller, but he was replaced for the series by Bob Goen...

, Camouflage, Chain Reaction
Chain Reaction (game show)
Chain Reaction is an American game show created by Bob Stewart, in which players compete to form chains composed of two-word phrases.The show aired three separate runs: Bill Cullen hosted the original series on NBC from January 14 to June 20, 1980...

, Dream House, Every Second Counts
Every Second Counts (US game show)
Every Second Counts was a television game show that aired in United States syndication from September 17, 1984 to September 1985. The show was produced by Group W Productions in association with Charles Colarusso Productions....

, Fantasy
Fantasy (game show)
Fantasy is an American game show franchise co-hosted by Peter Marshall and Leslie Uggams, with Chris Lemmon and Meredith MacRae as remote correspondents. Bill Armstrong announced the show, with substitutes by Johnny Gilbert...

, Go
Go (game show)
Go is an American television game show created by Bob Stewart and aired on NBC from October 3, 1983 to January 20, 1984. The show featured two teams, each composed of four contestants and a celebrity. The teams had to construct questions one word at a time to convey a word or phrase to their...

, Headline Chasers
Headline Chasers
Headline Chasers is a syndicated game show that ran daily from September 9, 1985 to September 5, 1986. The series was created, hosted, and produced by Wink Martindale with Johnny Gilbert as announcer...

, Jackpot
Jackpot (game show)
Jackpot! is a television game show seen in three different runs between 1974 and 1990. Geoff Edwards hosted the original version of this Bob Stewart production from January 7, 1974 until September 26, 1975 on NBC. A second version, produced in Canada, aired from September 30, 1985 to December 30,...

, The Joker's Wild
The Joker's Wild
The Joker's Wild is an American television game show that aired at different times during the 1970s through the 1990s. Contestants answered questions based on categories that were determined randomly by a mechanism resembling a slot machine....

, Make Me Laugh
Make Me Laugh
Make Me Laugh was an American game show in which contestants watched three stand-up comedians performing their acts, one at a time, earning one dollar for every second that they could make it through without laughing. Each comedian got sixty seconds to try to crack the contestant up...

, The Movie Game, Perfect Match, Quiz Kids Challenge
Quiz Kids Challenge
The Quiz Kids Challenge is an American game show series that aired in syndication from September 10 to December 28, 1990. It was a slightly different version of the Quiz Kids, and was hosted by Jonathan Prince and announced by Johnny Gilbert and Charlie Tuna.-Gameplay:A team of three Quiz Kids...

, Sports Challenge
Sports Challenge
Sports Challenge was a sports-centered game show that aired in weekly syndication from 1971 to 1979, with a separate version that aired briefly on CBS weekends from May 20 to September 9, 1973. Dick Enberg was host...

, Supermarket Sweep
Supermarket Sweep
Supermarket Sweep is an American television game show. Part of the format was similar to other team-based quiz shows; the other part was a live-action race through a supermarket, a novel concept at the time...

, Tic-Tac-Dough
Tic-Tac-Dough
Tic-Tac-Dough is an American television game show based on the pen-and-paper game of tic-tac-toe. Contestants answer questions in various categories to put up their respective symbol, X or O, on the board. Three versions were produced: the initial 1956–59 run on NBC, a 1978–1986 run initially on...

, Win, Lose or Draw
Win, Lose or Draw
Win, Lose or Draw is an American television game show that aired from 1987 to 1990 in syndication and on NBC. It was taped at CBS Television City, often in Studios 31, 33, and 43 at various times...

, and Yours for a Song
Yours for a Song
Yours for a Song is an American game show, created by Bob Russell, that aired on ABC from 1961-1963 with Bert Parks as host and Johnny Gilbert as announcer...

. Gilbert has also substituted for Gene Wood
Gene Wood
Eugene Edward "Gene" Wood was an American television personality, known primarily for his work as an announcer on various game shows. From the 1960s to the 1990s, he announced many game shows, primarily Mark Goodson–Bill Todman productions such as Family Feud, Card Sharks, Password, and Beat the...

 on several Goodson-Todman game shows, including Family Feud
Family Feud
Family Feud is an American television game show created by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. Two families compete against each other in a contest to name the most popular responses to a survey question posed to 100 people...

, the CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 version of Card Sharks
Card Sharks
Card Sharks is an American television game show created by Chester Feldman for Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions. Two contestants compete for control of a row of oversized playing cards by answering questions posed by the host and then guessing if the next card is higher or lower in value than...

, and Child's Play
Child's Play (game show)
Child's Play is an American television game show in which adult contestants tried to guess words based on definitions given by children. The Mark Goodson-produced series debuted on CBS from September 20, 1982 at 10:30 AM Eastern/9:30 AM Central...

. He also succeeded Wood as permanent announcer of Chuck Woolery
Chuck Woolery
Charles Herbert "Chuck" Woolery is an American game show host. He has had long-running tenures hosting several different game shows. He was the original host of Wheel of Fortune from 1975–81, the original incarnation of Love Connection from 1983–94, and Scrabble from 1984–90...

's game show Love Connection
Love Connection
Love Connection is an American television game show, hosted by Chuck Woolery, in which singles attempted to connect with a compatible partner of the opposite gender. The show debuted in syndication on September 19, 1983 and ended on July 1, 1994, after more than 2,000 shows. Reruns continued to air...

 during the 1988-89 season, only to be replaced by John Cervenka
John Cervenka
John CervenkaJohn Cervenka is an American businessman and television personality. Currently, a Financial Advisor with the Wall Street firm, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Cervenka co-leads an advisory team that has an exclusive roster of high net worth clients.CareerCervenka’s career in the...

.

When Merv Griffin
Merv Griffin
Mervyn Edward "Merv" Griffin, Jr. was an American television host, musician, actor, and media mogul. He began his career as a radio and big band singer who went on to appear in movies and on Broadway. From 1965 to 1986 Griffin hosted his own talk show, The Merv Griffin Show on Group W Broadcasting...

's quiz show Jeopardy!
Jeopardy!
Griffin's first conception of the game used a board comprising ten categories with ten clues each, but after finding that this board could not be shown on camera easily, he reduced it to two rounds of thirty clues each, with five clues in each of six categories...

 was returned to television in 1984 as a daily syndicated program hosted by Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek
George Alexander "Alex" Trebek is a Canadian American game show host who has been the host of the game show Jeopardy! since 1984, and prior to that, he hosted game shows such as Pitfall and High Rollers. He has appeared in numerous television series, usually as himself...

, Gilbert was selected as the show's announcer and audience host, a role he has held ever since. He has also worked as a guest announcer on Jeopardy!s sister show, Wheel of Fortune
Wheel of Fortune (U.S. game show)
Wheel of Fortune is an American television game show created by Merv Griffin, which premiered in 1975. Contestants compete to solve word puzzles, similar to those used in Hangman, to win cash and prizes determined by spinning a large wheel. The title refers to the show's giant carnival wheel that...

. He announced on the episode that aired on April Fools' Day
April Fools' Day
April Fools' Day is celebrated in different countries around the world on April 1 every year. Sometimes referred to as All Fools' Day, April 1 is not a national holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when many people play all kinds of jokes and foolishness...

 in 1997, as well as a few weeks of episodes in 2010 following the death of the show's longtime announcer, Charlie O'Donnell
Charlie O'Donnell
Charles John "Charlie" O'Donnell was an American radio and television announcer, primarily known for his work on game shows...

. Gilbert also guest announced on Wheel in late 1995, when O'Donnell was ill.

External links