When Cheech Marin became the first “Celebrity Jeopardy!” champion in 1992, all he got was a small nod from its host Alex Trebek — and that was all he needed.
“It was like ‘Alex Trebek nodded in my direction!'” he told CNN Anderson Cooper on “Full Circle” Monday. “What a thrill!”
Marin and Cooper competed against one another on the show when Marin appeared again in 2010. The stand-up comedian, actor and writer triumphed against Cooper at the time. But on Monday, the day after Trebek died, they reunited to share fond memories of the legendary host of the iconic game show.
Trebek’s cause of death was not immediately announced, but he revealed in March 2019 that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
Cooper, who said he had been a fan of the show since his high school years, admitted he, too, was “flummoxed” around Trebek when he was first on “Celebrity Jeopardy.” He wanted to go to lunch with Trebek just to be in his presence.
Though both men admitted to being star-struck, it was a sense of humility they both noted most in Trebek.
“Trebek really was the perfect host,” Cooper said. “He was smart, he was funny when it was called for, he was decent, he was confident enough to know he didn’t need to make the show about him.”
Marin agreed, adding that Trebek had a way to make “you feel good, even if you looked stupid sometimes.”
And the show’s reach extended beyond those competing. Jeopardy, and its host since 1984, transcended all divides to bring people together, Cooper said.
“It’s an institution that teaches the value of the pursuit of knowledge and makes that pursuit fun,” he said.
And though Marin was responsible for one of Cooper’s two loses during his four appearances on “Celebrity Jeopardy!” the show is still bringing them together.
“I still want a rematch — someday, somehow,” Cooper told Marin.