Friday, August 19, 2016

Classic TV: High Rollers (1974)

In the 70's, Merrill Heatter & Bob Quigley began developing game shows with a theme centered on gambling. First, there was Gambit, which aired initially on CBS, then was revived in the early 80's as Las Vegas Gambit for NBC.

Then, in July 1974, there was High Rollers.

All it really was, to be truthful, was a variation on Gambit, swapping out a deck of cards for dice. Both games mixed a simple quiz with the gimmick du jour. Future icon Alex Trebek, who made his American debut a year earlier with another NBC game show, The Wizard of Odds, was tapped to host, as apparently, Heatter & Quigley saw something in Trebek that made them believe he was the right fit for High Rollers. Actress Ruta Lee was Trebek's co-hostess, a role filled by Gambit's Elaine Stewart in the syndicated night edition that followed soon after.

In all, High Rollers had two runs that totaled nearly 4 years (1974-6, 1978-80) on NBC, the second run ending to make room for David Letterman's initial talk show. After a 7 year hiatus, Heatter, working together with Rick Rosner, who had acquired Hollywood Squares a year earlier, revived Rollers, but, with Trebek busy with Jeopardy!, Wink Martindale, who had helmed both incarnations of Gambit, took over as host for the syndicated run, which lasted a year.

Let's turn the clock back to Independence Day 1975.

Many thanks to Million Colors of Light.

Rating: A.

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