Elizabeth Schmitt keeps the picture of herself and Alex Trebek next to the framed letter from Miep Gies, the woman who hid Anne Frank’s family.
They are two of her most treasured possessions.
The Lakehill Preparatory teacher, who appeared on the game show “Jeopardy!” in 2010, said it wasn’t easy hearing the news that the beloved host died Nov. 8 from a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
“It was really sad hearing about Alex dying,” Schmitt said. “2020 has been such a year. It was like, ‘Really? Why did Alex have to die?'”
Schmitt took the “Jeopardy!” test at a contestant search in Dallas, and a few months later, she received a call from producers asking her to be on the show. She was among a pool of contestants, whose names are put on index cards and randomly selected to be on one of the many shows they are filming that day.
“They film two weeks of ‘Jeopardy!‘ in two days on Tuesdays and Wednesdays,” Schmitt said. “I think that’s how Alex could keep doing what he was doing on chemo therapy. I got chosen for the fourth game. My goal was to not pass out and not throw up. Alex is very good about looking you in the eye and nodding and being encouraging.”
Schmitt’s experience with Trebek includes their in-show chat about her letter from Gies. One of Schmitt’s classes had sent her birthday cards to the Anne Frank House, and Gies responded with a thank you note saying she had all the cards displayed in her apartment.
After the show, Trebek talked to contestants, and Schmitt remembers he was perplexed about the amount of time his kids spent on their cell phones.
“Alex was such a professional,” Schmitt said. “If he messed up reading a question, he refilmed it during a commercial. He was just good at what he did and made everyone feel comfortable in that high-pressure situation.”
Schmitt led for most of the game, correctly answering a Daily Double, but she missed the Final Jeopardy question and fell to second place.
“When I got my check, half of it was gone because of taxes,” Schmitt said. “A few hours later, my water heater broke. ‘Jeopardy!’ paid for my water heater. We call it the Alex Trebek honorary water heater.”
“Jeopardy!” rules prohibit contestants from competing again under the same host, but Schmitt hopes to try out under Trebek’s replacement.
“I know a lot more now about how to do it,” Schmitt said. “I’d love to have another go.”
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