Alex Trebek could put things together on Jeopardy! better than an imaginative kid playing with LEGOs. It’s one of the many reasons he’ll remain a TV icon forever.
When he wasn’t cracking jokes to contestants or tallying scores from the podium, Trebek’s mind was working. While the team of writers on Jeopardy! has won many Emmys for their writing, Trebek was often contributing to the clues.
After all, he was running the show. His opinion was a crucial part to the successful formula. In 2007, Trebek opened up to the Television Academy Foundation on the process of picking prompts and clues.
One story, in particular, stands out, especially for us Outsiders. Trebek brought up Wyatt Earp, the legendary lawman who fought outlaw after outlaw. Trebek noticed a collection of legendary actors had portrayed the Western legend.
“Recently I made the suggestion,” Trebek started. “‘You know there’s been a lot of different actors who portrayed Wyatt Earp. And, why don’t we do a category on that?’ Will Geer played Wyatt Earp in Winchester 73, the James Stewart film. I said James Garner played Wyatt Earp, in addition to the Wyatt Earp television series. Kevin Costner, Kurt Russell…”
Unsurprisingly, Trebek’s idea was taken up by his coworkers. However, the Jeopardy! legend also explained why he doesn’t get disappointed when his ideas aren’t utilized.
“So they wrote a category on Wyatt Earp and it played well,” Trebek said. “And they did categories called ‘Alex’s Favorite Films’ and that was fun. But I make suggestions all the time, and I don’t have such a big ego that if they don’t accept them, I’m gonna get my nose out of joint. If you accept them, fine, if you don’t let’s go on.”
Sadly, Alex Trebek passed on November 8, 2020.
Jeopardy! Legend Alex Trebek Reveals How to Do Best on Show
It may come as no surprise to some, but Alex Trebek’s advice to aspiring contestants was simple: read.
The longtime host was asked about which professions do best or what contestants do to succeed. In his response during a 2012 CBS interview, Trebek firmly and passionately said the steps to being ready for the show is just opening as many books as you can.
“People who read a great deal tend to do better than others,” explains Trebek. “Doctors, lawyers– Not doctors. Lawyers, teachers, and students tend to do well, again because they read a great deal.”
He then brought up one other profession he believes bodes well for success on Jeopardy!
“Journalists also. We discovered that, of course, in our power players tournament in Washington last week, but people who are used to thinking on their feet. They have to come back with correct responses to people who quiz them and answer spur of the moment.”