The game where Knowledge is King and Lady Luck is Queen...


Airdate History:
CBS Daytime Sept. 4, 1972-June 13, 1975
Syndicated September 1977-September 1986

Jack Barry (1972-1984)
Jim Peck (1984)
Bill Cullen (1984-1986)

Sections: Preface, Pilot, CBS era, Syndie era, Video Clips


The Joker's Wild is my favorite quizzer, and happened to be Jack Barry's first successful foray into game show producing since the Quiz Show Scandals of 1958, which led to the downfall of the original Barry & Enright shows. It premiered in the very timeslot before the premiere of The New Price is Right with Bob Barker, and was touted as "America's Most Exciting New Show," where "winning players can win up to $25,000 in cash and prizes." Incidentally, the CBS run of The Joker's Wild was the shortest-lived of any of the game shows which premiered on Sept. 4, 1972, the others being Gambit and obviously The Price is Right. However, it enjoyed a long run in syndication, even outliving its creator and host Jack Barry who passed away in 1984.


Allen Ludden was the host of the pilot episode of TJW shot in black & white in 1969. Evidentally, the pilot had a different format than the regularly aired show; hopefully I'll get the pilot soon so I can write about it.


In the main game, the three slots could spin up any of five categories. If it appeared once, it was $50; twice, $100; and three, $150. This was soon changed to $200. A joker is a "wild card," adding value to an existing category or allowing the player to go "off the board" and pick another category that was not spun. $500 wins the game. each player gets the same amount of spins, and in necessary cases, tiebreakers are played where each player gets a spin until the tie is broken. If a player gets three Jokers, it was originally an automatic win; shortly into the run, the player must answer a question on the category of their choice.

After a contestant won a game, they played the bonus round. The original bonus round consisted of a player spinning the wheels for a set of 3 prizes. If they didn't like what appeared, a second and final spin was taken. If circles appeared around all three prizes, the contestant won a bigger prize such as a car. Later on, the bonus round was changed to the Jokers and Devils format; the player had the opportunity to win three prizes by spinning for each, and if three Jokers appeared, they won the prize. If a Devil appeared, hey would lose what prizes they won in that round.

The contestant would then get the opportunity to play again against another challenger. If they could successfully defeat 3 players total, they would win the Joker's Jackpot. The value of the Joker's Jackpot started at $2500, and whenever a contestant who has already won at least one game loses, their money is added to the Jackpot. When the Jackpot is won, the contestant keeps all their winnings, takes the Jackpot, and wins a new car. Originally, contestants were only allowed to win one Jackpot before retirement; shortly thereafter they could return as long as they kept winning. Once they lost, only the money earned since the last Jackpot win was taken away and added to the Jackpot.


This version had a similar set and an updated version of the original theme which was called "The Savers." The front game was the same as the established CBS rules; the end game was changed to the "Money and Devils" format. The contestant would stand center-stage and pull a huge lever, and money (hopefully) would appear. If the contestant reaches $1000 or more in the round before hitting a Devil, they win the money and a prize package usually worth $3500-$4500. One of the neat parts about a bonus win is when Jack Barry counts out and hands the contestant his/her money after beating the Devil; I wonder if the contestant got to walk out of the studio with that, or if it was withheld, because I imagine that could be quite a security risk!


In 1979, Hal Shear became famous as the biggest all-time winner in the history of The Joker's Wild at that time, if not at least for his "lucky suit" which even back then (as even he himself noted) was considered rather tacky. The historic win, though, could be eclipsed in importance by Game #8, in which Hal was down $500-$200 at one point.

What will be Hal's fate in this spin? Watch this clip and find out!


Well, make that Jack Barry appearances since he seemed to be the only personality on TJW! There is one particular non-game-show appearance that he made that I know of, and incidentally relates to game shows. If you really want to know what it is, click here. Don't say I didn't warn you!


Coming sooner or later. His rather corny sense of humor permeates every show, especially in the Syndicated run. Sometimes he made wisecracks that were double entendres or were otherwise suggestive in nature. Maybe I'll put some clips up here highlighting the best (and worst) of his jokes on the show!

Last Updated 8/21/2005