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The Weekly Blague

The "Jeopardy!" Effect

Jeopardy! premiered March 30, 1964, on NBC and has run, on and off, ever since, with the current edition now in its 40th season. In New York City, the original show, hosted by Art Fleming (Don Pardo was the announcer), aired at 11:30 in the morning. My mother watched it and all the other morning game shows on a small TV in the kitchen as she did her housework. One day, probably in 1968, I was watching it with her and my uncle. I don't remember the category or clue, but the answer (always in the form of a question) was, "What is 'Penny Lane'?" My mother and uncle didn't know it, but I was a Beatles fan and I did, and it prompted my uncle to say, "He should do as well with his schoolwork as he does with Jeopardy!"


Flash forward to December 2003. I'm a professional writer enjoying success with my first published book, Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon. It's on best-seller lists. Excerpts are running in magazines. Foreign-language editions are appearing. It's getting reviewed. But my parents, retired and living in Florida, have not grasped how dramatically my life has changed.


One night my father calls. "Did you see Jeopardy!?" he asks.


"No," I say, aware that he and my mother are big fans of the show. "Why?"


"You were a question!"




All he remembers is that my name and Nowhere Man were mentioned. And this to him is proof at last that his son is "a famous writer." 


I obtain a videocassette of the show, from December 26. And sure enough, there I am in Double Jeopardy!, "Rock & Roll Bookstore" for $400: "'Nowhere Man' is Robert Rosen's take on 'the final days' of this Beatle."


Flash forward again, 20 years, to October 18, 2023. I'm scrolling through Facebook when my messages and notifications suddenly light up: I'm hearing that Bob Rosen was a clue on Jeopardy tonight!... You've hit the big time, my boy!... You were just on Jeopardy!!... Bob, did you know that you're a Jeopardy question??? I'm watching tonight's episode right now!


It's the same category, same question, and same $400 from 2003. Except this time half the world is watching, and at least three people managed to take a picture of the clue.


I later find out that Jeopardy! has been rerunning questions since the writers' strike. And they reran my question in the age of smartphones and social media.


From "Penny Lane" to Nowhere Man, Jeopardy! loves the Beatles.


My Jeopardy! moment 2023.


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