Hammett: Final Jeopardy(!)

Watching Jeopardy!, S36 E8 for 9/18/19, I roused to some attention when they did a clew featuring Lillian Hellman — but, hey, it’s only Lillian Hellman, who cares, right?

Since they just did Hammett recently, I admit I was caught completely flat-footed when Final Jeopardy rolled around.

The category was The 1940s.

The statement when it rolled out read:

This nickname for a history-changing weapon of 1945 came from a character in “The Maltese Falcon”


The champion, Jeopardy Jason, pulled out another win with the answer:

“What is the Fat Man?”

Another contestant also got Fat Man. The third went with Little Boy — which Alex Trebek noted was “also inspired by Dashiell Hammett.”

Yeah, kind of. You can look it up and read all about it, but the bombs dropped on Japan to cut to the chase in World War II were named Fat Man and Little Boy. The initial names for the double whammy duo were Thin Man and Fat Man, based on the thin and fat designs for the weapons. And an apparent awareness of Hammett’s works from somebody in the bomb lab.

When something wasn’t right with Thin Man, they tweaked it — but apparently couldn’t keep the original name. So Thin Man became Little Boy and the rest is indeed history.

Final jeopardy, and how.

And you thought Hammett was just another pretty face, limited to books and movies.

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