On This Day: ‘High Rollers,’ Hosted by Alex Trebek, Premiered in 1974

by Joe Rutland
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Alex Trebek actually did host other game shows than “Jeopardy!” and, on this day in 1974, he started rolling the dice on “High Rollers.”

Trebek’s show is kindly remembered in this tweet from Twitter account RetroNewsNow.

The game show was a part of the NBC daytime lineup from 1974 through 1976. Alex Trebek did return to host another daytime version in 1978, yet it was canceled in 1980. Why? NBC wanted to make room for a young comedian to host his first show called “The David Letterman Show.”

Alex Trebek Would Lead Contestants Toward Victory On NBC Game Show

As for the strategy of “High Rollers,” two contestants squared off on each show. Their goal was to get the numbers 1 through 9 removed from a big board by rolling a big-sized pair of dice. Contestants would have to answer a question correctly to gain control of the board.

If they ended up with a “bad roll” where they couldn’t remove a combination of numbers (e.g., contestant rolls “7” and takes off “3 and 4” from the board), then the other contestant would get control.

Alex Trebek would lead contestants in the game while actress Ruta Lee would roll the dice for them. Lee was in the daytime version, while Elaine Stewart would co-host the nighttime, once-per-week syndicated show. Trebek would host both shows until they were canceled. He also hosted the updated version for two seasons and contestants rolled the dice themselves.

One more iteration of “High Rollers” appears in the 1987-88 television season with veteran Wink Martindale as host. But the show just lasts for that one season.

“High Rollers” is one of those fun, easy-going game shows that classic TV fans get a chance to probably see on Game Show Network here and there. If you’d like to see Trebek circa 1975 along with Ruta Lee, then check out this episode.

‘Jeopardy!’ Put Him On TV Screens for 37 Consecutive Seasons

Obviously, Alex Trebek is forever tied to “Jeopardy!” as its host. Trebek actually was that game show’s second host as Art Fleming stood behind the podium first. Fleming hosted the NBC version of the show from 1964 through 1975. Trebek came on board in 1984 and stayed as host through his death in November 2020.

Did Trebek host other game shows than “Jeopardy!” and “High Rollers”? Yes. Among them were “The Wizard of Odds,” “Double Dare,” “Classic Concentration,” and “To Tell the Truth.”

But “Jeopardy!” remains at the core of his television work. The Canadian native who became an American citizen spent 37 seasons on the Merv Griffin-created game show, which is now going through guest hosts. No final decision on who will permanently take over the host role has been made.

Today, though, we’re remembering a younger Trebek and one of his first forays into TV game shows. Roll those dice, Alex.

Outsider.com