The ‘Jeopardy!’ Theme Song, the Person Who Wrote It, and the Fortune They’re Still Making On the 30-Second Tune
The theme song from the classic question-and-answer show, Jeopardy!, is one of the most recognized tunes of all time. Alongside “Happy Birthday” and perhaps “White Christmas,” the song, officially titled “Think,” will forever be linked to the wildly popular game show.
Here’s who wrote it and why the song made them smile every time it played.
Merv Griffin wrote the ‘Jeopardy! theme song
Media mogul Merv Griffin, who died in 2007 at the age of 82, can be thanked for bringing two of the most iconic pop culture programs into American living rooms. In addition to creating and producing the megahit Jeopardy!, the daytime talk show host also produced the equally as popular Wheel of Fortune.
Griffin kept his hands in Jeopardy! when he first created it, writing as well the thirty-second theme song heard during the last round of each show, Final Jeopardy.
The money Merv Griffin made from the ‘Jeopardy!’ theme
He told The New York Times in 2005 that he at first wrote the melody as a lullaby for his son, Tony, and that it took him under a minute to write it. Incredibly, the song raked in royalties for Griffin that astonished even him.
“That little 30 seconds has made me a fortune, millions,” he told the media outlet. “You don’t want to know. Probably close to $70-80 million.”
Griffin sold Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune in 1986 to Coca-Cola for $250 million, but his estate continues to reap the royalties from the catchy tune.
Merv Griffin’s talk show broke boundaries
In addition to his uncanny gift for creating game shows, Griffin also dreamed up The Merv Griffin Show, a daytime talk show known for in-depth interviews that ran on various networks, until it landed in its most well-known incarnation from 1972-1984.
Griffin enjoyed having guests that didn’t fit any particular mold or theme. On one broadcast, for example, he interviewed comedian Phyllis Diller, and in the next segment, welcomed the Japanese commander who orchestrated his country’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
He also had on his talk show U.S. presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, as well as artists Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali. He recognized talent when he saw it and introduced singer Whitney Houston and comedian Jerry Seinfeld to the nation. In his later years, in fact, as a famed talent picker, he unsurprisingly named American Idol as one of his favorite programs.
“Bachelors and spinsters and people collecting uninteresting people, I don’t know what that stuff is,” he said speaking of reality shows. “[The contestants on American Idol] have talent and they actually perform. I love that show.”