"From Hollywood, here's the game where knowledge is king and lady luck is queen..."

HOSTS:


JACK BARRY (1972-1975; 1977-1984)


BILL CULLEN (1984-1986)


JIM PECK (substitute host 1982-1986)

AIRDATES: 9/4/1972 - 6/13/1975, September 1977 - September 1986 (syndicated)
CHANNEL: CBS
ANNOUNCERS: Johnny Jacobs, Ray Rowan, Johnny Gilbert, Charlie O' Donnell, Jay Stewart
SET TAPES: CBS Television City, KCOP Television, Production Group Studios
PACKAGER: Barry & Enright Productions

THE MAIN GAME

The Joker's Wild was a fun casino-like game where knowledge was definitely taken to the next level.

Two contestants competed, and were given 5 categories to play with. One contestant would pull their lever and spin the reels. If 3 different categories came up, they could play one category for $50. If one category came up with a pair, then the contestant could play the one category for $50 and the pair for $100. If a triple came up (one category in all slots), then the contestant could play the triple for $200 (originally $150). Jokers were also in the 3 reels, and could be used as "WILD" cards, meaning that they could substitute it for any category. If all 3 Jokers came up in one spin, originally it was an automatic win. It later became that you had to answer one question from any of the 5 categories to win the game right there.
The first contestant to reach $500 would win. But if it was the challenger, the champion would be given one last attempt to make a catch-up. If not a success, a new champion was crowned.
Later on in the run after 1975, a player who won 5 games would win a car, mostly a Buick.

THE BONUS GAME:

The bonus game went through 3 different formats, the first of which was not that easy:

FIRST BONUS GAME:
Prizes were on all 3 reels. The winning player got two spins, taking the prizes or the first spin, or taking whatever prizes came up in the second spin. Some prizes had circles on them. If all 3 reels stopped with circles in them, then the player won a brand-new car. Sad enough to say this format only lasted 2 shows. The second part, the car was put on as a prize, or whatever the big prize was, depending on what was aired.

SECOND BONUS GAME:

After a few weeks, a new bonus game came up. Now, Jokers were on the 3 reels, and a DEVIL was put on one of the 3 reels. Each time 3 Jokers were spun, the player would win a prize. They could decide to take the prize and stop, or keep going for another prize. If the player got past the Devil in all 3 spins, they'd win their prizes. If at anytime a Devil appeared, everything was forfeited. Early on, there was a 4th spin for a car or a trip, but that was scrapped.

THIRD BONUS GAME:

This is the bonus game that ALL FANS of The Joker's Wild are familiar with. Money values (valued $25-$200) were put in the reels and whatever spun was accumulated. Should the contestant reach $1,000, they'd win the money and a prize package. But among one of the 3 reels was the dreaded DEVIL, which as before would forfeit everything.
If a contestant spun 3 values of the same number ("Natural Triple"), then they'd win the bonus round right there, win the prize package and have $1,000.

SPECIAL JOKER'S WILD STUFF:

JOKER'S JACKPOT: Many drastic changes. The first rule: a contestant HAD to win 5 games in a row, later changed to 3 games. The Jackpot began at a solid $2,500 and anytime a player lost their main game winnings, it was added to the Jackpot (bonus round winnings were safe). After a player had won, they had to choose whether to keep the winnings and leave, or keep going and risk everything. Soon, a car was added as a bonus for winning the Jackpot. Originally, if a player got the Jackpot, they'd retire. Soon, they were allowed as many Jackpots as permitted (as long as it was under CBS's $25,000 limit).

AUDIENCE GAME: From 1981 to 1982, a few times a week, including the Friday, 3 members of the audience were brought down to play for some money. Each chosen member could spin the reels (ranging from $10-$200). All winnings were guaranteed for the players, but whichever of the 3 scored the highest would play "Face the Devil" for an additional $1,000 and a special prize. Same rules as permits.

NATURAL TRIPLE: When the show returned after 1975, a NATURAL TRIPLE advantage was put in. If one contestant could spin 3 of the same category (with NO Jokers), then they'd win a prizes. At some points of the run, there was a "Natural Triple Jackpot," which grew every day until someone spun the triple.

FACTS:
-Though it was thought that the CBS version was entirely destroyed, most of it was found and re-aired on GSN from December 2000 to August 2001.
-The set saw a change from its original "1972"-like set, and saw new neon lights and everything in 1978. Also in 1981, a new backdrop.
-Jack Barry made a success in this after his Quiz Show Scandals in the 1950s, tagging with Dan Enright. Barry also hosted Break the Bank in fine ways. He remained with The Joker's Wild until his death May 1984 while jogging in a park and thinking on retirement, when he suffered a heart attack.
-Jim Peck was a substitute host for Jack Barry in the last 2 seasons. Peck also made host of notable shows, such as Three's a Crowd, Second Chance, but really memorable for The Big Showdown. He was supposed to replace Barry, but Enright went with Bill Cullen after Barry's death.
-Game show king, Bill Cullen was hired by Dan Enright while Cullen was doing Hot Potato. Peck would substitute for Cullen whenever he was away. Cullen also hosted many shows, such as Eye Guess, The New $25,000 Pyramid, first host of The Price is Right in the 60s, and Child's Play, but really memorable for his work on Blockbusters. Cullen also made appearance on The $25,000 Pyramid, Password Plus, even Super Password until lung cancer claimed his life in the early 90s. This show would be the last show he'd ever host.
-It's a fact that there was plenty of board game versions of The Joker's Wild, but there was a bit of an unknown Joker's Wild game on Philips CD-i that was done by Wink Martindale. It went out of circulation, because the Philips CD-i was not a big seller, due to its big price (more than $400, a lot in those days).
-When CBS began airing this show, they tried to find other hosts instead of Jack, such as Wink Martindale, Bill Cullen, Jim Lange, and a few others as well. They tried to do this, because they were still very disappointed in Jack for the Quiz Show Scandals.

Click HERE for Pat Finn's era of The Joker's Wild.