(LOS ANGELES) — “Part of me left here when Alex left, really.” That’s the word from longtime Jeopardy! announcer Johnny Gilbert, on the passing of his “friend and colleague” Alex Trebek.
The affable, Emmy-winning quiz show host died at the age of 80 on November 8 following a lengthy battle against pancreatic cancer, which he was first diagnosed with in March 2019.
“Everybody’s walking around in a little bit of a fog, shaken from the whole thing,” the 96-year-old Gilbert tells People.
The announcer expressed, “Jeopardy! has always been my life. I got married [to wife Sharee] right after the show went on the air, so our life together and the show’s life are all bundled into one.”
Gilbert met Trebek in 1984, and recalled, “he wasn’t the usual big-smiley-face emcee” and was someone who, “was quiet and listening to everybody and everything.”
He explained, “Alex has always been the same person. He was very introspective, he read a tremendous amount and traveled a lot. He was always doing crossword puzzles to keep his mind active.”
Gilbert also remembered how Trebek would answer their audience’s questions during commercial breaks — no matter how serious or silly they were.
“One gal asked him, ‘Boxers or briefs?’ Alex said, ‘Thongs!'” he laughed. “I told him a long time ago, ‘If this show goes away, you could be a stand-up comedian.'”
As for whoever carries the torch of Trebek’s legacy forward as Jeopardy! host, Gilbert has just one piece of advice.
“Jeopardy! is a very special game,” he said. “If the person lets the show be the show, it will be fine.”
Trebek’s final Jeopardy! will air on Christmas Day. Guest hosts like all-time champ Ken Jennings have been filling in before a successor is named.
By Carson Blackwelder and Stephen Iervolino
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