This past week, there’s a new wrinkle: a musician actually competing on the show. And she’s not just competing, she’s dominating. Jackie Fuchs, the bassist from the ’70s rock group the Runaways, has won Jeopardy!’s past four episodes (as of Wednesday night, Dec. 19). We don’t think she would have seen a picture of Jack White and said it was Eminem.
Fuchs (who played in the Runaways under the name Jackie Fox) was last in the news cycle under highly unfortunate circumstances. In 2015, she alleged she had been sexually assaulted by Kim Fowley, the band’s manager and producer. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, she noted, “Once you can talk about that on camera, an audience isn’t going to faze you. It’s kind of like that’s the worst thing that can happen to you, so you know, losing a game show is not fun, but it just pales in comparison.”
Here is a primer on what makes the reigning Jeopardy! champion such a remarkable individual.
1. Her career in music
Again, the obvious part: Fuchs played bass in the Runaways from 1975 to 1977, and the Runaways were a big deal. They were among the first all-female rock bands to gain widespread notoriety and their aggressive, back-to-basics style fit in nicely with the punk explosion of the time. While she was in the band, they released two studio albums on Mercury Records and a live album recorded in Japan, where they were even bigger stars. In America, they opened for the likes of Tom Petty, Talking Heads, and Cheap Trick. And of course, their lineup included a pre-solo-fame Joan Jett on guitar and co-lead vocals. Watch the Runaways perform their signature song “Cherry Bomb” below.
2. She went to Harvard with Barack Obama
Fuchs was just 17 when she left the Runaways, so she had, as they say, her whole life ahead of her. She earned a bachelors degree in linguistics, summa cum laude, from UCLA and later, a law degree from Harvard. During that time, one of her first-year classmates was none other than Barack Obama. “Looking back now I can see that he had already decided that he was a future president,” she wrote in Huffington Post in 2008. “He was working hard at filling that suit… Obama didn’t just share in class — he pontificated.”
3. She’s a legitimate polymath and polyglot
Fuchs went on to practice law, specializing in entertainment. She’s also a prolific writer: we mentioned the Huff Post gig, and she’s also written numerous novels, novelettes, and short stories. She speaks several languages, including Italian and French.
4. Which brings us to her game show history…
We’ll start by mentioning she was on The Dating Game in the early ’80s, since that does count as a game show. But over the years, she put her encyclopedic knowledge base to work and turned her focus to quiz shows. She was on Game Show Network’s The Chase in 2013 and later that year, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
5. She saved her best for Jeopardy!
After just her first day as champion, she easily topped her combined winnings from Chase and Millionaire. She’s (so far) won four episodes, amassing a winnings total of $87,089. She’s correctly answered questions about the B-52’s, the Beatles, and Alicia Keys, though she’s insisted she’d fare better with questions on classical music and opera. The last two “Final Jeopardy” questions she got right were about Mount Rushmore and the poet Dylan Thomas.
Still, she waited until episode three to let on about her rock star past:
She’ll try to make it five straight wins Thursday, Dec. 20.