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Ex-LIer Lois Feinstein appeared on Alex Trebek's first 'Jeopardy!' show

Lois Feinstein, formerly of Plainview, was a contestant

Lois Feinstein, formerly of Plainview, was a contestant on the first episode of "Jeopardy!" hosted by Alex Trebek in 1984. Credit: Lois Feinstein

We'll take Long Island for $200: "This former Plainview woman competed on the Sept. 10, 1984, premiere of 'Jeopardy!' with Alex Trebek, which re-aired on Monday." 

"Who is Lois Feinstein?"

That is correct!

"I've lived everywhere," says Feinstein, 67, who now resides in Denver with her husband, retired United Airlines Capt. Bruce Feinstein. She was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the daughter of Anita Rosen, an English teacher, and Norman Rosen, an aerospace engineer whose career took him to Michigan and then to Long Island, "working for Grumman [Aircraft]. He worked on the lunar lander for Apollo 11," Feinstein says proudly. "From the time I was 7 until I was 14, I went to [the former] Jamaica Avenue [School]  and Plainview-Old Bethpage Junior High," which now houses Stratford Road Elementary School.

Her father's work then took the family to California, where Feinstein received a communication-studies degree at UCLA. She and her husband of five months were living in Los Angeles when she appeared on that first episode of "Jeopardy!," which followed the original 1964-75 series, a 1974-75 evening version and a short-lived 1978-79 revival, all with host Art Fleming.

So why was her home given as Plainview? "Yeah, I don't know why they did that," says Feinstein, a freelance copywriter whose company Great Site Web Copy! provides content for websites, blogs, newsletters and the like. "They had asked for bio information and where I was from originally, and maybe it sounded more cosmopolitan to have somebody who wasn't just from California."

Her opponents were Frank Selevan, a copywriter from Miami, Florida, and winner Greg Hopkins, an energy demonstrator from Waverly, Ohio. Feinstein, who came in second, has had no contact with either since. That debut episode "took forever to film because they weren't sure of camera angles and they were dismantling things. I think it took about two and a half hours."

She actually had been scheduled to compete on the revival series, years earlier. After having passed a written test, "I got called for the last show of the previous iteration, and as I was sitting in the studio waiting to go on, we received word the show had been canceled. So we went home." When the current version was in preparation, "They called me and said, " 'Jeopardy!'s coming back, do you want to come?' This was before the Internet, so I was very surprised they were able to track me down."

Also on her episode, sort of, is Feinstein's daughter, Amy, now 35 and an education specialist at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Florida. "Unbeknownst to us," says Feinstein, "I was one month pregnant with her at the time I was on. So she likes to tell people she appeared on 'Jeopardy!' "

Long before the episode recently re-aired, her daughter had seen it on the 2005 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD " 'Jeopardy!' An Inside Look at America's Favorite Quiz Show." A waggish sort who shares her mother's dry sense of humor, "She called me [after the episode ran Monday] and said, 'I'm watching. Maybe you'll win this time.' "

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