In Memory of Alex Trebek

I have been a fan of TV game shows ever since I was a little kid. They obviously made a great early impression on me as some of the shows I distinctly remember watching were only on TV for a few months back in 1960 or 1961 when I was 5 or 6 years old. But, pictures and stories on the Internet have confirmed my vague memories of what the sets looked like and how the games were played.

On one of our trips to New York to visit cousins in the mid ’60s, our family went to watch 3 game shows in the studio. We watched Say When with Art James, The (original) Price is Right with Bill Cullen and a show called Who Do You Trust, starring Johnny Carson. Seeing the shows was much more interesting to me than visiting the Empire State Building.

I’ve had my favorites over the years. I loved (and still love) the ’70s version of The Match Game. I love the reruns of old episodes of To Tell the Truth and What’s My Line.

And, of course, there’s Jeopardy.

I am not one of those who watch Jeopardy every night. 7:30 is not always the best time for me to sit and watch TV but I watch it whenever I can and I often regret not watching it more often or setting the DVR to record it.

But, every morning, I check out the Jeopardy Clue of the Day in the New York Times (most often that evening’s Final Jeopardy) and am always thinking about the time I almost got on Jeopardy.

Actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I was in California in 1987 and decided to try out for the show. I was staying with a friend in San Diego so I took the train to LA and found my way to the studio just in time to take the written test with a group of 99 other people.

I thought the test was relatively easy but I had no idea how I stacked up against the others as only 10 people would be chosen to continue to the “next round”. Sure enough, I was one of the 10 and was invited to play sample games in a round robin style with the other 9.

I failed miserably.

Whether it was nerves or not being able to figure out the timing of the buzzer, I was the first one invited to leave and try another time. I must admit that I was relieved. I realized that deep down, I really didn’t want to be on the show, I just wanted to say I tried out and made it that far.

The bottom line is I’d rather watch the show at home and dazzle anyone who’s around with how many questions I can come up with. But I know full well that if the spotlights were on, I would either freeze up or have to confront categories like Opera, British Royalty or 21st century music, any of which would doom me to failure.

All of these thoughts are, of course, in memory of Alex Trebek who was just so perfect as the host of the show. At times he could seem a bit patronizing especially if people didn’t know answers to “easy” questions but the vast majority of the time, he presented a steady and quiet personality that didn’t detract from the real “stars” of the show: the contestants.

I am certainly going to make sure to watch Jeopardy over the next few weeks to see his final taped episodes. His courage in fighting Pancreatic Cancer with such grace and such determination is an inspiration to all and he deserves all the accolades he is receiving.

I can’t end this piece without posting a few Jeopardy Answers in the style of Final Jeopardy. One was actually used, the others are ones I would love to see if I ever do get on the show (highly unlikely) as I’m ready with the answers. You’ll have to scroll down to get the questions.

Here’s my all time favorite Final Jeopardy answer. I thought it was incredibly creative and while I did figure it out, it took me more than 30 seconds. None of the contestants got it right that night.

The category is Number 1 songs.

A U.S. No. 1 in 1977, it was performed the night before Carl XVI Gustaf’s 1976 wedding to Silvia Sommerlath.

Then, here’s one that’s too easy especially if you’re from Michigan.

The category is Famous Names

This ship sank in a gale in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975

Finally, one last one:

The category is US States

This is the only state never to record a temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.



What is Dancing Queen?

What is the Edmund Fitzgerald?

What is Hawaii?

I could share many more but these will suffice. May the memory of Alex Trebek be for a blessing. May we remember his grace, his courage and his constant presence in our lives, whether we watched each night or not.

3 thoughts on “In Memory of Alex Trebek

  1. Renee

    Thank you so much for this! I also tried out for the show, but missed the cutoff by one question….I will never forget that question or the answer that I actually knew….but just couldn’t get out of my brain in time!

  2. Thank you, Rabbi! Very sweet and heartfelt. I was not a fan but my parents were and I watched with them when I was a teen, and then whenever I visited them – right up to the end. They were so proud of me when I’d (rarely) get an answer right that the contestants missed.
    And I don’t think I’d have the courage to even try out for the show! Kudos to you for trying.

  3. Pam Freedman

    I really enjoyed your story and discovered another of your passions.

    I always enjoyed him and the show, and am saddened he struggled with this horrific disease.

    When in college, my sorority sisters would not book classes at 12:30 in order to cram into a small den and watch Jeopardy!

    To happy days…pam

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