TV’s Original ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Dead at 70
CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. (AP) _ Art Fleming, the original host of television’s ``Jeopardy!″ died at home Tuesday of pancreatic cancer. He was 70.
Fleming was diagnosed with the disease just two weeks ago, said his lawyer, Steve Hurm.
``We’re all stunned,″ said Merv Griffin, creator of ``Jeopardy! and now its executive producer. ``He was a great fellow. Art was the first 11 years of the success of `Jeopardy!‴
An actor in radio, television, film and theater, Fleming appeared in numerous TV shows, including ``Starsky and Hutch,″ ``Lou Grant″ and ``Moneychangers.″
He spent many years at KMOX Radio in St. Louis as host of two highly rated programs, ``At Your Service″ and ``Trivia Spectacular.″
He made 48 movies, including ``Primetime;″ ``Airplane II,″ with William Shatner, Chad Everett and Sonny Bono; and ``MacArthur.″ In the latter, he played adviser W. Averill Harriman opposite Gregory Peck’s Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
But he was probably best known for his duties as a television game-show host.
He was host of ``Jeopardy!″ when it aired as an NBC daytime show from 1964 to 1975 and during its first year in syndication, 1974-75. He was also with the show when it made a brief return to NBC’s daytime schedule as ``The All New Jeopardy!″ in 1978-1979.
``Jeopardy!,″ which now has Alex Trebek as its host, has a reputation as a class act in the game show business, with challenging questions and sharp contestants.
He also was host of the show ``College Bowl″ for seven years.
Fleming, who attended Colgate and Cornell universities, enlisted in the military the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. He spent 3 1/2 years as a bomber pilot during World War II.
He also was active in civic and religious affairs, and in 1992 received the Religious Heritage of America’s Faith and Freedom Award.
He is survived by his wife, Rebecca, a sister, two children and four grandchildren.