The Answer is…:Reflections On My Life
As a fan of the TV quiz show, Jeopardy!, I have admired Alex Trebek from afar. He always appeared to be a decent human being and I don’t recall any negative press or scandals associated with the man. Based on his autobiography, The Answer Is…:Reflections On My Life, he seems to be a decent guy that worked hard and discovered how to best use his talent.
Each chapter in the book starts with a question that is relative to his life and from there, he tells us a little about his past. I say “a little” because the autobiography does not go deep. For example, Trebek’s parent’s divorced and his mother moved away. Trebek doesn’t give us a blow-by-blow description as to what might have happened, nor does he dwell on his own feelings at being separated from his mother. Trebek adheres to this format through the rest of the book. There are simply few intimate details, and we see his deflections of intimacy in his actions. For example, Trebek shares how he learned the questions most frequently asked by his audience and responded time and again with canned, humorous answers.
At first, I thought that Trebek wasn’t being sufficiently transparent. Then I realized that, he wasn’t hiding anything. Trebek did not let us in deep because he didn’t have a “bone to pick”. He is not a man who had regrets or resentment. Trebek knew he had some talent, but he also worked hard and took advantage of every opportunity presented to him. He learned from his mistakes. If Trebek wasn’t on television, we’d want him as our friend, colleague, or neighbor because he is just a good person.
I am not trying to position Trebek’s life as unremarkable. What I find most rewarding about Trebek is that he was a kind, hard-working family-man who went out of his way to make his contestants comfortable and was attentive to his audience. He quietly contributed to charity. In fact, all proceeds from the sales of his book go to charity and in true form, he only let’s us know this after we have purchased and read the book.
Trebek died in 2020 at the age of 80, after a long and painful battle with pancreatic cancer and 36 years on Jeopardy! He will be missed not because he was a star, but because he made others feel like they were the star. Now that’s remarkable!