It’s hard to put down words of how I feel when I first heard that ultimate quizmaster Alex Trebek has died today. I had no idea how he and Jeopardy are connected to my life until now. My love of gameshows started in the 1980s and one of the first that caught my eye was Jeopardy! I was instantly attracted to the game board, the categories and then there’s Alex.
He had the calm cool demeanor of a teacher that you may hate when he tells you that you’re wrong but you truly love him when class is dismissed. I remember one Halloween back at Tayac Academy that I was a game show host carrying around the home version of Jeopardy while in a suit. This and many more reasons are why I loved Alex as a host. He can be funny and witty on Classic Concentration or High Rollers and be serious on Jeopardy!, he was versatile in what he can do on television.
On numerous family vacations growing up, I brought along board games that we could play and one of them was always Jeopardy. Normally, I play the host since I was very good at trivia and nobody in my family would dare to compete against me. Hell, I would even host Jeopardy in my high school TV Production classes during breaks.
After our first trip from the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge in Orlando in 2004, the HBCU equivalent of the College Bowl quiz competition, my coach came to my house in Maryland and gave me a small package for my participation. I opened it and it contains two tickets to the taping of Jeopardy Power Players Week at DAR Constitution Hall in DC. I was blown away. I went down to the venue and saw Kwesi Mfume, Maria Bartiromo & Anderson Cooper compete on this beautiful set-up. In case you’re wondering, Cooper won $50,000 to the America Heart Association. The thing, I remembered from this day was meeting announcer Johnny Gilbert. He was very friendly and he autographed my This is Jeopardy! book that was released days prior. I would see Jeopardy again live in my hometown again in 2016!
Final Jeopardy story I swear LOL. In 2008, I had the crazy idea of bringing gameshows to my Trek clubs. So, my testbed was the 2008 Starfleet International Conference in Ithaca NY using one of the old Classroom Jeopardy! consoles. Little did I know that this first Sci-fi Jeopardy would include some Trek alum Robin Curtis (Lt Saavik in “The Search For Spock”) and J.G. Hertzler (Martok from “Deep Space Nine”). By the way, they were beaten by Keith Shikowitz – a proud member of Starfleet International. It was the first and only time I had celebs in my sci-fi gameshows. Not only did the audience and contestants had fun, but it was the start of things to come. I hosted Sci-fi Jeopardy numerous times as late as February 2020 at Farpoint Convention. We even had a Tournament of Champions over the course of the weekend at Shore Leave convention in the summer of 2012.
As you can see, Jeopardy and Alex played a huge role in my life. Although. I never had the chance to meet and thank Alex face to face, I would thank him so much for giving us a little more knowledge every week. We will miss you so much. Our weeknights would never be the same.
God bless you, Alex