Sunday, November 08, 2020

RIP Alex Trebek

So sorry to hear of the passing of Alex Trebek.  He was 80.  For the millions of us who watch JEOPARDY every day, he was a part of our family.  I never actually met him in person but did attend numerous tapings of the show and got to see how he interacted with crew, contestants, and audience members.  Just the fact that during commercials, instead of stepping away or taking a break himself, he always went out to the audience and answered questions says something about who he was.  

Staff members of the show (many who have worked there for over 30 years) adored him, and that tells you something else.  

Over the last few years there were times when taping five shows a day was an ordeal.  He would do this a day after chemo sometimes when his body was wracked with pain and exhaustion.  And yet, he never let any of that show on the air.  He was the ultimate professional, the ultimate trouper.  

I'm sure the show will go on.  And I'm sure their successor has already been chosen and has done practice shows in anticipation.  I suspect it will be Ken Jennings, who would be a great choice.  But whoever they get, they have tough shoes to fill.  However, Alex always put the game over his own ego so the task will be that much easier.  

He worked up until the very end.  He warmed our hearts with his humility, intelligence, empathy, and humor.  He made a very difficult job seem easy.   And today -- this very moment -- more than ever, I think we appreciate how much those qualities are valued.  

"The greatest game show host in history."   Who is Alex Trebek?

25 comments :

norm said...

Good man.
He will be missed, more than you think.
Good luck to the new host.

Frederic Alden said...

Beautifully stated, Ken.

maxdebryn said...

A very classy and bright chap, who will be missed. JEOPARDY will never be the same for many of us.

Stubblejumpers Cafe said...

Sorry to hear that. Thought he was doing so well. -Kate

Cap'n Bob said...

Ken Jennings? Oh, no.

Michael said...

The BUZZR network has been showing episodes of CLASSIC CONCENTRATION from the 80’s. He was just as good on that show as he was on JEOPARDY - although it is strange seeing him wearing sweaters for some episodes instead of suits.

Mike Barer said...

Alex was indeed an inspiration.

BADuBois said...

I was on "Jeopardy!" several years ago... he was a class act, through and through.

David said...

Here's an episode of Cheers from 1990 with Cliff Clavin on Jeopardy.

https://youtu.be/botdmsQilnU

Anonymous said...

2020 just won't stop. JEOPARDY was one of the only tv shows I was allowed to watch growing up, since it was deemed "educational". I haven't watched it lately, but, strangely enough, have thought about it a lot over the past week, thanks to seeing so many of those SNL "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketches that were posted when Sean Connery died. I'll now probably have dreams about "those" versions of the two of them duking it out in the afterlife. Which, now that I think about it, will probably be the next set of internet memes (and possibly a future skit as well).

Charles Bryan said...

There are reportedly enough taped episodes to run through December 20th. It's going to be feel very weird to see them, but worse to not see them.

Breadbaker said...

I was at a book reading where Ken Jennings interviewed Randall Munro about a year ago. Ken has a lot more talent for this kind of thing than some may think. He's very personable and he's totally devoted to the legacy that Alex created (along with Merv Griffin and original host Art Fleming). He does the audiobook of Alex's autobiography, and the two of them interact on it (as Alex did the part where he met his wife and the chapter on Ken's time on the show) beautifully. If Ken is the choice, the show will be in good hands.

No one is going to be Alex Trebek. No one should try. But the show has enough value that it should continue nonetheless.

The world needs more people like Alex Trebek.

Fun fact from his autobiography. Because he was at the time the only bilingual CBC newsman, he was selected to do some work on the Canadian centennial in 1967. He got to chat with Queen Elizabeth in a reception line for a long time, because she wouldn't move until Prince Philip did, and he was chatting up some pretty women behind Alex in the line.

Kirk said...

RIP, Alex.

Barry Traylor said...

I was so saddened to learn of his passing. The show will never be the same for me without him.

Andrew said...

It's rare to see someone so gifted and sophisticated be so humble and down to earth. What a treasure. RIP.

He had great comic timing. A favorite clip:
https://youtu.be/zcBc2XV1ijY

Paul Duca said...

I hope it's not rude for me to say that...I'm sure some people felt that way when Alex first stepped into Art Fleming's shoes.

Brian said...

Among the many other things that you could say about him was that he had a sense of humor about himself AND, not surprisingly when one takes into account the multitasking nightmare of having to host a game show, he had great comic timing, in my humble opinion. Not only did he have a funny cameo in the gone-too-soon "Pacific Station" starring Robert Guillaume and Richard Libertini, he also did a nice turn on "Cheers".

FRIDAY QUESTION: Could you post or re-post any anecdotes about the Cheers Jeopardy! episode?

Russell Walks said...

I was lucky enough to be on Jeopardy! twice. I lost the second day by $54.00, and I'll never get over it. Alex was kind enough to laugh at my opening anecdote, and said on the air that I "set us up beautifully." He was so welcoming and warm that I felt like we were friends, and I guess that was the basic beauty of the man: EVERYONE felt that way.

On the second day one of the categories was something like "Bands and Their Leaders." The answers were things like ..."The Mysterions" Obviously, the question is "Who is Question Mark?" Simple, right?

I buzzed in on "The Gang". Of course, the question is "Who is Kool?". I missed it. I said "Who is Spanky?" because I was thinking of "Spanky and Our Gang," a late 60's band with a couple of hits who were about a tenth as popular as "Kool and The Gang".

It was bad enough that I missed it, but Alex's sort of disappointed "No, we're looking for bandleaders here," broke my heart, and suddenly, all I wanted in the world was to earn his respect back by reminding Alex that yes, certainly I was stupid, but I wasn't a TOTAL moron. I mean, There WAS a bandleader named Spanky, I just had the "Our" and the "The" mixed up.

I thought about that for a few minutes - Really threw me off.

Also - I didn't get a single "Daily Double" that game.
And my shoes were sort of uncomfortable.
And it was kind of cold in the studio.
And....

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Indeed, Trebek said he got his share of "you're-no-Art-Fleming" letters early in the run of the syndicated revival in 1984.

Sadly, Fleming succumbed to the same disease--pancreatic cancer--that claimed Trebek. Fleming was 70 when he died in 1995, twenty years after NBC cancelled the original "Jeopardy!"

Buttermilk Sky said...

I hate this year. And why does it seem pancreatic cancer is never diagnosed before it reaches Stage Four?

A lovely tribute, Ken.

Anonymous said...

The Alex Trebek episodes will run through Dec 25. When asked when he would retire, he said he ask for 30 seconds at the end of the show and say he was retiring. I have to believe that by his last taping that he knew he was at the end.

Tom Galloway said...

I was also at the Randall Munroe interview Ken did, and have seen him both do other interviews and be interviewed. He's got the quick wit and poise necessary to be the host. But if they don't already have a host lined up, it wouldn't surprise me if Jimmy and Sarah from what's left of the Clue Crew filled in as "Emergency Holographic Hosts". If not Ken or them, I suspect Brad Rutter (who is already LA based and has done some show business work) would be interested and do a good job. Outside of J!, I think John Hodgman would have the wit and smarts to do a good job (for those into academic snobbery, he was singer Jonathan Coulton's suitemate at Yale).

Graham Powell said...

I was a contestant on the show back in the 90s and though I didn’t get to spend much time with him, all the nice things people have said are true.

slim2120 said...

I rarely get sad about public figures deaths. Even when they were figures whose worked I enjoyed.

Alex's death actually choked me up. I'm 38. I watched him since I was a boy sitting on my mom and dad's lap. To me he was just someone who would always be there. A human version of those Californian redwoods or sea turtles.

My dad has been sick this year and I can't visit him due to covid so I'm sure that is playing a big role.

Rest in peace, Alex.

BTW: I loved his cheers cameo. Cliff scares me. You too, huh.

LMAO. Whoever wrote that came up with a great line. It is always fun to have a stranger show up on a long-time show. They can often represent how a real person would view these character. Cliff was two steps removed from Travis Bickle. He scared me too.

Roger Owen Green said...

I won once on JEOPARDY! in BOSTON in 1998. I think Alex was a little out of synch - he couldn't get into the hotel because there were a massive anti-Bill Clinton and anti-Ken Starr demonstrations outside where Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and others were having a fundraiser.

But on set, he was a pro