“Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions host Buzzy Cohen remembers late host Alex Trebek fondly and was sad to see him go. Trebek died of stage 4 pancreatic cancer last November after hosting “Jeopardy!” for 37 years.
The former “Jeopardy!” contestant and upcoming Tournament of Champions host spoke to “Good Morning America” in the wake of Trebek’s death. He shared his favorite memory of Trebek, as well as what Trebek’s particular genius was.
And Cohen added that he really respected Trebek’s decision to share his cancer diagnosis with the world. It certainly made cancer patients around the globe feel less alone in their fight.
“He knew how important he was to the fans, he really respected the trust that he had earned by being the guy with the answer,” Cohen said. “I think coming forward himself, saying in his own voice that he was facing something, that had kind of a tough outlook, a really tough outlook, and told us as much but told us he was going to fight and he sure did.”
‘Jeopardy!’ Tournament of Champions Host Buzzy Cohen Has Priceless Memory of Trebek
Cohen has a young daughter. And he said when it came time for her to meet Trebek – at a party after taping the 35th-anniversary show – the legendary “Jeopardy!” host couldn’t have been nicer.
“At that time she wasn’t really watching TV, but of course we watched [‘Jeopardy!’] every night, so Alex Trebek was the biggest star in the world and he was on her TV every night,” Cohen told “Good Morning America.” “She ran up to him and gave him the biggest hug, and he was so excited and just wrapped her in his arms.”
“And later in the evening, he was kind of trying to sneak out the side, and she saw him from across the whole party and just ran after him and was like, ‘I’m going to get one more hug,'” Cohen added.
The late “Jeopardy!” host had two kids of his own, so he was used to youngsters. But Cohen said he handled that moment with Cohen’s daughter like a grandpa.
Trebek Championed Substance Over Style
Furthermore, the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions host said Trebek valued contestants who knew the answers and weren’t just skating by with lucky guesses. But at the same time, he did not place himself above the contestants.
On the contrary, Cohen said, he was rooting for them to know the answers.
“I think Alex’s genius was he made the contestants the center of the show,” Cohen told “Good Morning America.” “It wasn’t about the show or the game or anything, and you felt like when you were on the stage or when you were watching that he was really rooting for the contestants, and everyone at home was sort of playing along and being a contestant themselves. And so you knew that Alex in some way was rooting for you.”
“And I think that’s part of why everyone felt so connected to him,” he explained.
To be sure, people across America, not just the contestants, felt connected to Trebek. And many of those people will want to tune in to the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions this May to see how Cohen does as guest host.