The Joker’s Wild 1969 Pilot
The Joker’s Wild 1972
Pilots: December 8, 1968; January 5, 1969
CBS Daytime, September 4, 1972 - June 12, 1975
Run time
30 Minutes
Allen Ludden (Pilots)
Jack Barry
Lee Vines (Pilots)
Johnny Jacobs
Johnny Gilbert
Studios 31 and 33, CBS Television City, Los Angeles, California

The Joker's Wild was a quiz show based game show also based on slots.

Game Format (Pilots)Edit

In this pilot, the giant slot machine had categories that "came to life", because the categories were represented by five celebrity guests. They were:

  • Irene Ryan - Homemaking
  • Pat Paulsen - Politics
  • Don Drysdale - Baseball
  • Rosemary Clooney - Music
  • Rich Little - Show Biz

Two contestants faced the panel of five celebrities and the slot machine with their faces representing the five categories on it's wheels, and jokers. What makes this version of Joker's Wild different is that contestants don't have to answer just one question, they can also answer two or three. They each took turns pulling the lever in front of them to activate the celebrity wheels. When they stop, the player in control can choose which celebrity/celebrities to take. Before each question the contestant in control can choose to either take the question(s) or pass it/them to his/her opponent. Whoever star was chosen, the panelist will then ask a question or questions under his/her own category in which correct answers scored points according to how many of any celebrity appeared. One of each celebrity made each question worth one point; two of one celebrity, and one of another made the value of each question be two points; and finally, three of a single celebrity made each question worth three points. Now should the contestant in control miss a question, the opposing player had a chance to answer a bonus question from the last celebrity to read a question. There were also jokers on the wheels, and like the show says, "The Joker's Wild"; the player in control can make the joker(s) into any category/celebrity they like whether it's on the board or not. Both players took an equal number of turns and the first player to score 13 points wins the game. Should the first contestant make it 13 or more first, the other contestant had one last spin in an attempt to catch-up. Finally, if at anytime three jokers appear (that's Joker, Joker, JOKER!), that player has a chance to pull off an instant win by answering one question from one category correctly.

The winner of each game won $250 and a chance to spin for three prizes of various qualities, ranging from a 5¢ piece of chewing gum to $500 cash. The winning contestant took up to three spins of the wheels, on each spin, three prizes were displayed. After the first spin, the winner can either keep the first set of three, or reject them all for another spin. On the second set of three the winning player can either keep the those prizes, or reject them all for one final spin, and whatever the champ got on the third & final spin was his/hers to keep.

There were no returning champions in this pilot, two new contestants every game.

The 1969 pilot had no celebrities, with Ludden simply reading the questions himself; despite this change, the 1968 host-contestant podium remained in use.

Both pilots were produced by Barry in association with CBS, with Lee Vines announcing.

Game Format (1972-1975)Edit

In this more familiar version, two contestants faced a giant slot machine & answered questions. On those wheels are five categories. Each player in turn pulled a lever in front of them which caused the category wheels to spin. When the wheels stopped, that player was given a choice of up to three categories. Host Barry asked a question under that category and a correct answer won money for that player; but an incorrect answer gave the opponent a chance to steal the money by answering the same question. Question values were determined by how many of that category appeared. A single category was worth $50, a double category/pair was worth $100, and a triple was worth $200 (originally $150). The first player to reach $500 or more won the game. Also on the wheels were jokers, they're wild (hence the name of the show). The contestants can match up the joker with any category they chose, and they can also use the joker(s) to go off the board, and select a different category. But if at anytime three jokers come up (that's Joker, Joker, JOKER!), that player can instantly win the game by answering one question from one category correctly; however, if unsuccessful, the opponent could not steal and the game continued as normal. Originally the player would automatically win without answering a question by getting three jokers. Both players took an equal number of turns, in the event the first player (originally the champion, later the challenger) reached $500 first, the second player took one final spin in an attempt to catch-up. In the event of a tie at $500, extra rounds were played and whoever was ahead in score at the end of a complete round was the winner. The winner of the game kept his/her money and earned a chance to play the bonus game.

Bonus GameEdit

The bonus game had three different versions.

The Prize WheelsEdit

In the first two weeks of the series, the categories were replaced with prizes ranging in value from tens of dollars to hundreds of dollars. The winning contestant spun the wheels up to two times, on each spin, three prizes were displayed. After the first spin, the winner can either keep the first set of three prizes, or trade them back for one more spin, and whatever the winner got on the second spin was theirs to keep.

In the first two shows, some of the prizes were circled. If the winning player could spin three circled prizes, he/she also won a car. It was later scrapped in favor of having the car or another big prize on the wheels (usually the third).

The Prize Wheels were briefly revived during the kids' tournament in the syndicated version though it was played differently. The winning kid got to spin the wheels three times. On each spin, he/she picked which prize to take and the wheel with the chosen prize was locked while the other(s) spin as usual.

Jokers & DevilsEdit

In this bonus which premiered on the show's third week, the jokers were still on the wheels, but now they were accompanied by devils. The devils were a representation of the late host Jack Barry, plus they had a pitchfork behind them. The winning contestant spun the wheels up to three times (originally four). On each spin, if only jokers appeared (again that's joker, joker, JOKER!), he/she won a prize (the prize was generally announced before each spin, but for a brief period, it was announced after a successful spin). But if one devil showed up, he/she lost the prize(s); to prevent this from happening, after each successful spin, the contestant had a choice to stop and take the prizes or continue playing. During the four spin era, the last spin was worth a new car or another big prize.

Oddly enough, this bonus game and the previous bonus game were played in the same episode that this game debuted. The episode begun with the final playing of the Prize Wheels game, and the champion who played that one won the next main game and went on to play the first Jokers & Devils game, which he lost.

When this bonus first premiered, the jokers had the word "Wild" underneath them just like the main game. But in 1973 due to the fact that the wheels didn't change in between the bonus game & main game in one episode, the word "Wild" was replaced with the word "Joker".

For Christmas episodes, the Jokers and Devils were replaced with Santa Clauses and Scrooges. Three Santas won a prize, one Scrooge lost everything.

Face the DevilEdit

In this bonus round, which was in place by May 1974, the categories & jokers were replaced by dollar values ranging from $25-$200, and devils which still resembled host Jack Barry. The winning player can take as many spins as they liked. The goal on each spin is to spin only money amounts, each time he/she did that, that contestant would win the combined total of the money amounts shown. But if at anytime a devil appeared that player would lose all the accumulated money up to that point. That's why the host gave the contestant the option to stop the game and keep whatever he/she won after each successful spin. But if the contestant can reach $1,000 or more, that player not only gets to keep the cash, but also wins a special prize package; and if the winning player can spin a natural triple (three of the same money amounts), he/she automatically wins the money & prizes.

Joker's JackpotEdit

In the early years of the CBS version, contestants played for an accumulating cash jackpot called the Joker's Jackpot. After each bonus game (before the bonus during a brief period), the champion could decide to either keep the money won in the main game in addition to the prizes won in the bonus game and leave the show, or play another game knowing that if the champion lost that game, the grand total of the main game winnings were lost & added to the jackpot (the bonus game prizes were not in jeopardy). Champions who won three games in a row (originally four), won the Joker's Jackpot. The Joker's Jackpot started at $2,500 and continued growing until it reached $25,000 or more since $25,000 was CBS' winnings limit at the time. Weeks later after reducing the number of wins to three, breaking the jackpot also won a brand new car. Originally champions who broke the Joker's Jackpot retired from the show; later shows had them continue playing until they lose, stop or reached the $25,000 limit, with the main game money from previous attempts at the jackpot no longer in jeopardy.

The first contestant to break the jackpot was Kathy Wexler; the jackpot at that time was $13,800, but she never won any prizes because she kept on getting beaten by the devil in the bonus game.

When the Face the Devil bonus game was instituted, the Joker's Jackpot was removed entirely and champions now played for just a brand new car. To win the car contestants had to win five games in a row, and there were no more risks involved win or lose.

Audience GameEdit

During the final season of the CBS run, two different audience games were played. The first simply involved a selected audience member playing the regular endgame; this lasted for four weeks, from 3/3-3/28/75.

The second lasted from 3/31-4/25/75, and involved how well the player did in the endgame. Regardless of whether it was won or not, spinning less than $500 gave the audience player three spins, $500-$975 awarded four spins, and winning gave the player five spins. Hitting a Devil on the first spin meant no audience game was played. After this, Jack presented the player with a choice of three envelopes, each containing the name of an audience member. That player and the champ played a variant of the "Jokers and Devils" endgame: spinning 3 Jokers awarded $100 to each player, and every subsequent Joker-Joker-Joker doubled it for a maximum of $1,600. A Devil took away both players' money, but gave the audience member a consolation prize.


International VersionsEdit




Ticket PlugEdit


Episode StatusEdit


The Joker's Wild ticket plug, 1972

The Joker's Wild ticket plug, 1972

The Joker's Wild (1975) - Final Episode

The Joker's Wild (1975) - Final Episode

See AlsoEdit

The Honeymoon Game
The Joker’s Wild (1977)
Joker Joker Joker
The Joker’s Wild (1990)
The Joker's Wild (2006 pilot)
The Joker's Wild (2009 proposed pilot)
Snoop Dogg Presents The Joker’s Wild
Gettin' Wild with Snoop Dogg


The Joker's Wild @ Game Show '75
David's CBS Joker's Wild Page
Rules for The Joker's Wild at the Game Show Temple
Josh Rebich's Joker's Wild Rules Page
Classic The Joker's Wild Homepage
Flash game of Face the Devil
Older Flash game of Face the Devil