A Chat with Jeopardy Contestant Lois Feinstein

Back in June 2009, I done a chat with Lois Feinstein, a Freelance Copyrighter who was on the very first show of the current version of Jeopardy which originally aired September 10, 1984 hosted by Alex Trebek that still runs today strong as ever!!!

You can view it all here for your enjoyment!!!

Lois: Hi Chris.

Chris: Hey, how are you Lois?

Lois: Great.

Chris: That is good, I am great myself too.

So Lois, tell us a little about yourself and where you're from?

Lois: I was born in Connecticut and lived in Michigan, NY, California and then Colorado. I was in California when I became a Jeopardy contestant.

Chris: Great. And what do you do for a living?

Lois: I am a freelance writer. I write web site copy, press releases, ads and other materials for businesses. I have also been published in a number of magazines.

Chris: That is very fascinating. A great career line I must say. Something I would like to do in my spare time at some point very soon.

Lois: You sound like you have plenty going on right now!

Chris: Actually I do. And I am trying to come through with it. LOL.

Now you just happen to be one of the first contestants ever on Jeopardy! in this current version that is still going strong after 25 years. Can you believe it.

Lois: It is amazing. That was actually Jeopardy's 3rd time around.

I watched the very first version with Art Fleming when I was a little girl and I always wanted to try out. When the second version came about, I tried out and was actually sitting in the studio when word came that it had been cancelled!

I was very surprised when the Jeopardy folks contacted me some years later to ask if I wanted to be on the new version.

Chris: Oh boy, that was a very big disappointment when the 2nd Fleming run got cancelled.

Amazing how you were very young when you first saw the original Fleming version taped in Rockefeller Plaza, New York.

That was amazing when the people at Jeopardy/Griffin/King World called you and asked you to be on. So what led you to wanting to play on Jeopardy! and how did it appeal to you?

Lois: I liked that the contestants had to know so much about so many different subjects. I've always been a voracious reader with a lot of interests, so I thought that might be a good match for me.

Chris: Great way to see it as such. I think it is great to read allot and gain alot of knowledge. A very good concept if I might add. Now you were on the very first permanent episode.

Lois: Yes. I was surprised to be chosen for the first show.

Chris: Oh wow. A great amazement. You made history.

Lois: Here's a fun story. My twin nieces had checked the Jeopardy anniversary video out of the library. Suddenly their mother hears them screaming and she runs into the den only to see some footage of me on the first show. My nieces had not known that I was a contestant. My mom subsequently bought me a copy of the tape, so I have it for the family records.

Chris: Oh boy. Very, Very, Big, Big, excitement. Well I am glad your nieces and mother enjoyed the thrill of seeing you back then on J! especially that your nieces saw it for the first time. Wow. Glad you got a copy for yourself. It must be a big treasure that you will cherish for the rest of your life.

Lois: It is.

Chris: Yeah. Now what do you remember most clearly about being on Jeopardy!?

Lois: Being nervous and also learning that only the winners were going to get money. On the first season, the second and third place contestants only got prizes. That was kind of disappointing because I figured I would at least come home with some cash. I came in second and earned some silly prizes which I declined so I didn't have to pay taxes on them.

Chris: Ohhhhh, guess, they were cheap. LOL. Now if I do remember correctly, you got a trip at Palm Springs plus some luggage.

Lois: That was correct, plus some vitamins.

Chris: Oh boy, LOL

Lois: Since I lived in L.A. a trip to Palm Springs was not a big deal.

Chris: Oh yeah. It's not that far. Oh brother! LOL. How was your relationship with your opponents Frank Selevan and Greg Hopkins, who became the first ever champion, and do you still keep in touch?

Lois: No, we weren't allowed to speak to the other contestants during the taping and I have not spoken to either of them since.

Chris: Oh. Well out of all the categories that were in the Jeopardy round which were,

Lakes and rivers,



Foreign Cuisine,

Actors & Roles, and

Number Please.

Which was your favorite and which was the one you knew alot about?

Lois: Boy, you have done your research! I think I ran the Foreign Cuisine category--I love to eat! I probably also knew some about Actors and their roles.

Chris: Thank you, I am very much good at that research stuff. I love eating myself. I like movies and TV too.

Now for double jeopardy.

The Bible

50's TV

National Landmarks

Weights and measures


And Four Letter Words

What was your favorite & strongest?

Lois: I really don't remember. I do remember that Greg ran the Bible category--he was a youth minister!

Chris: Oh wow, LOL.

In addition to being an energy demonstrator if I recall correctly.

How did you feel when you were daring and risked $1,000 like you said on that Daily Double you had in Double Jeopardy! The answer was, "The only four letter word in the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner.", to which your response was, "What is what?”

Lois: I was really nervous. I remember quickly singing the lyrics in my head and hoping that I could come up with it.

Chris: Laughs. That must have been a stresser for you. Oh boy.

Lois: It was!

Chris: I never got that one myself personally. Laughs.

The final jeopardy category was "Holidays", the answer was "The first holiday on the third Monday starting in January 1986", and the correct response was "What is Martin Luther King Day?" and you and Frank wrote down "What is MLK's Birthday?"

How confident were you in Final Jeopardy that you would win the game.

Lois: I wasn't confident. I think I was in second place going in? When I first read the question I felt panicky as though I couldn’t figure it out, but then it came to me.

Do you have a tape of the entire show?

Chris: I only have the anniversary DVD to be honest with you, I must admit.

Lois: Is the whole show on there?

Chris: Yes it is. It’s online as well on various sites such as YouTube, Metacafe, Daily Motions plus others.

Lois: Oh! I haven't watched it in so long, that I don't remember.

Chris: Yeah. Memory gets foggy after awhile, especially mine I have to tell you. LOL.

Lois: Me too. I always forget where I put my glasses!

Chris: Yeah. I too as well. At least half the time. LOL. Now this is a big question. How was Alex Trebek behind the scenes off camera, was he kind to you and your opponents and how did the contestant coordinators treat you?

Lois: The contestant coordinators were all very nice. We didn't really interact with Alex off the set. He seemed nice enough.

Chris: Great to hear. I heard Alex was very kind I. Sounds like a nice group of people to associate with.

Lois: I also get the impression that he's very smart and knows a lot about many different things. That's why he's a great choice for Jeopardy.

Chris: I hear you, and I very much believe that. He reads alot. Let alone remembers it instantly.

Lois: I agree.

Chris: Yes. I just remembered that he was not just the host, but the producer as well.

Lois: That makes sense.

Chris: Yeah. Describe how your day was when you were a contestant, like when you got into the studio and what happened during your stay there and what happened afterwards if you can.

Lois: I don't remember alot. There is a big pool of contestants and they announce who is going to be on the show just before taping. They are very careful to avoid any trace of cheating, that's why they don't want you to talk to the other contestants and why they don't announce until just before taping.

Our session took a long time because they thought my button wasn't working properly and stopped in the middle to disassemble my podium and check it out. During that time we weren't allowed to talk to anyone.

Chris: Yeah. I see. The cheating precautions are caused by the days of the quiz show riggings of the late 1950's.

Lois: I understand that.

Chris: yeah. Did you ever get to meet Merv Griffin and Roger and Michael King? Plus how was Johnny Gilbert like, was he kind, and did you get to talk to him?

Lois: I did not meet any of them.

Chris: Ok. What was the atmosphere like behind the scenes overall?

Lois: Contestants were excited, wondering how much they were going to win. The coordinators tried to put everyone at ease.

Chris: Cool. How long did your taping last exactly.

Lois: Also, you don't know if you're actually going to get on the show--they select more contestants than they need. The taping lasted about 1-1/2 hours.

Chris: Yes. Oh boy that long! LOL.

Lois: It was nerve-wracking.

Chris: yeah I believe it. How did being on J! impact your life.

Lois: I think the biggest impact is that when my clients look me up on Google, they find out that I was on Jeopardy! Makes me a little bit of a celebrity!

Chris: Great. Have you gone on to do other game shows?

Lois: No.

Chris: Yeah. I see. Do you still follow J!?

Lois: I do. It's still one of my favorite shows. And, believe me, it's much easier sitting at home than being there live.

Chris: I see. And what do you think of the game, the show and it's concept as it is now compared to when you were on 25 years ago?

Lois: I think it's pretty similar. I still enjoy playing along and one of more intellectual game shows on TV.

Chris: Yeah, very similar indeed. What advice do you have for anybody who wants to be on Jeopardy! and other game shows?

Lois: Go for the fun of it (if you can). You may not end up winning anything.

Chris: I agree. Just ride the wave, go with the flow, and have a good time doing it and make the best of it.

Lois: Indeed.

Chris: If you were to be invited back to Jeopardy! would you consider it?

Lois: Absolutely!

Chris: That is beautiful. LOL.

Lois: Especially now since I would go home with some money!

Chris: That would be a great thing. How was the tension during the day of the show for you and for your opponents and the crew?

Lois: I think all the contestants were nervous. I imagine the crew was not.

Chris: Wow. They must have known what they were doing if so.

Last question. Now the set looked completely different back then than it does now, save for the famous logo of course! Now you might not remember very much, if at all. But, do you know how the mechanics of the set your and your opponents and Alex’s podiums/lecterns work and how did the board work?

Lois: I have no idea.

Chris: Understandable.

Well that's it. Lois I would like to thank you so much for taking some of your time to do this Q & A with me and I am very sure everybody will enjoy!

Lois: My pleasure. Let me know when you post it.

Chris: You're very kind! Sure you bet I will

Lois: And keep me posted on the progress of your game show. I look forward to seeing your name in lights!

Chris: great. Glad to see your name in the lights of being famous and popular as well.

Lois: Take care.

Chris: I will very much give you the whole scoop. Well you take care. All my best.

Bye for now.

Lois: Bye.

Chris: Bye.

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