It’s hard nowadays to find a person in the public arena that everyone loves. Even if people start out being loved, somehow either they mess it up by something they do or something that is found out about them.
Not so with Alex Trebek. The long time “Jeopardy” host, who died on November 9th of Pancreatic Cancer, was the rare person who people worked with and watched every day who left this world with his character beyond reproach.
Why is that? Well, of course, the people who knew him said he was hardworking, humble, and kind. The millions who watched him nightly loved his calm demeanor, low key humor, patience, and kindness. It seemed as though he was interested in all the contestants no matter who they were, how unlikely a contestant they seemed, or how poorly they did answering questions. I always thought that when you left that show, even if you did horribly, you felt okay about yourself because of Alex. What a gift.
One of the main things I loved about Alex is that he didn’t make the show about him or his ego. In this day where the hosts of shows seem intent on inserting themselves so that THEY are the star attraction, that wasn’t what he did. (Side Note: It’s why I can’t watch some of the Food Network Baking Contest Shows. Do I really find Carla’s pithy sayings or Duff’s funny faces that entertaining? No. I don’t. )
Alex knew that the questions and the contestants were the stars. And those contestants didn’t need to be whacky or wear weird clothes to get his attention, because he gave them all the same attention. They got one brief conversation about themselves and then the rest was the game.
No one won without playing the game and knowing the answers. Producers didn’t get to let certain contestants slide by because of their personalities or demographics. Play well, you win. Screw up the wrong answer at the wrong time, and you lost. And, through it all there was Alex as the calm, reassuring, impartial moderator.
He wasn’t humorless. He wasn’t without emotion. Remember the show where a contestant wrote, ” We love you Alex” as his Final Jeopardy answer?Alex read the response with tears and a catch in his voice. I cried.
In the end, when we all knew his time was short, he handled himself with class and grace. He did as many shows as he could until he couldn’t. He left them to be watched all the way through. After all, he knew how important it was to the contestants, and I think he knew how important it was to us.
We needed to see it through to the end with him and he knew that. It will be tough watching them all, knowing how the “story” ends. But I know I want to.
After they are over, we shall miss him every night. He was one of a kind.
God bless you, Alex.