Art Fleming, 70; Original Host of ‘Jeopardy!’ TV Game Show

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Art Fleming, the original host of television’s “Jeopardy!,” died at home Tuesday of pancreatic cancer. He was 70.

Fleming was found to have 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, films and theater, Fleming appeared in numerous TV shows, including “Starsky and Hutch,” “Lou Grant” and “Moneychangers.”


He appeared in 48 movies, including “Primetime,” “Airplane II” and “MacArthur.” In the latter, he played adviser W. Averill Harriman opposite Gregory Peck’s Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

But Fleming 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!”--now hosted by Alex Trebek--has a reputation as a class act in the game show business, with challenging answers and sharp contestants.

Fleming also was host of the show “College Bowl” for seven years.

Fleming, who attended Colgate and Cornell universities, enlisted in the Navy 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 he received the Religious Heritage of America’s “Faith and Freedom Award.”