Announcer Johnny Gilbert is the rare entertainment icon that everyone knows his voice, but not the man himself. When fans hear “This… is… Jeopardy!” they know their favorite game show is about to start. Gilbert has been an integral part of Jeopardy! for decades, so it’s time he gets his due. Here’s everything you need to know about the famous game show announcer.
The ‘Jeopardy!’ Announcer’s Early Days
Johnny Gilbert didn’t waste any time becoming an entertainer at a young age. As a boy, he sang in the choir at a Lutheran church in his hometown. While still in high school, he began his career as a singer and dancer with a band in Newport News, Virginia where he grew up.
Following graduation, he became a comedian, a master of ceremonies, and a singer at a Jacksonville, Florida nightclub. He continued to cut his teeth as an entertainer while touring the country as a singing MC. He entertained at nightclubs across America from the Hotel Bradford in Boston to Bimbo’s in San Francisco.
In the ’50s, Gilbert enlisted in the United States Army’s Seventh Army Special Services. While in the service, he was cast as the lead in Xanadu: The Marco Polo Musical, which was an original musical comedy. The musical toured all over Western Europe where they performed for other military personnel and servicemen while also performing for local civilians as well.
After resigning from the military, Gilbert became a featured singer on WDSU in New Orleans. After a similar gig in Nashville, he moved to New York City where he earned his first job on television. He became the host of ABC-TV’s Music Bingo before moving to Los Angeles where KTLA-TV hired him to MC Words and Music.
After numerous jobs and appearances on television and the big screen, Johnny Gilbert found a home with a new, revamped game show.
Johnny Gilbert Forms Legendary Partnership with Alex Trebek
The already seasoned performer and entertainer joined Jeopardy! at the request of their new host – Alex Trebek. Previously, Trebek met Gilbert in the early ’80s. Gilbert’s voice made such an impression on the young host that he suggested to producers that they should hire the MC as their new announcer. The pair worked together since the game show’s debut episode in 1984 and he’s still the announcer to this day.
Many think the introduction to Jeopardy! is a pre-recorded taping that is used repeatedly before each show. That’s not the case. Gilbert says the intro live each episode and can be seen warming up audiences before the game show begins. He even wears his own signature satin Jeopardy! letterman jacket in a variety of colors every show.
Gilbert has been in the show’s announcement booth for so long that after 32 seasons the Guinness World Records honored him in 2017. His record still stands for the longest career as a game show announcer on a single show – 35 years in and still going strong.
The announcer’s opening signature line has become a staple of the show. However, Gilbert is much more than just the voice of Jeopardy!. He’s a true Hollywood gem and a jack of all trades entertainer that show business has rarely been graced with in modern times.