Baby boomers, celebrities, and the Emerson community are mourning the loss of Rex Trailer, host of the iconic Boomtown children’s television show and faculty member at Emerson since 1974—and expressing their fond memories on social media.
Trailer was 84 years old.
Former student Maria Menounos ’00, co-host of Extra, looked up to Trailer as a mentor.
“Rex was a truly passionate teacher,” Menounos told emerson.edu. “[Trailer was] passionate about what he did and the students he taught. He wanted everything for us. He took a personal interest in his students, in Emersonians everywhere, and in me. That’s what the greats do and I am forever thankful.”
Menounos continued: “A couple of years ago, I went into the engineering booth at the studios for my online media network at AfterbuzzTV.com and felt like I was back in his class. He taught me how to direct three-camera shoots. Do I normally have to do that? Never. But I knew how to because of Rex. He was a great teacher and I am honored to have had him as a friend.”
“He was huge in New England,” said Jay Leno ’73, host of NBC’s Tonight Show. “He didn’t go to Hollywood, but he’s a big star, as far as I’m concerned.”
Leno first met Trailer as a child at a horse show in North Andover, Massachusetts, during the height of Boomtown, and corresponded with him through a letter. “He always remained a decent human being,” Leno said.
Jared Bowen ’98, an on-air reporter for WGBH-TV Boston, first met Trailer when he worked as a resident assistant at Emerson.
“I was very aware of who he was,” Bowen said, “even though I was too young to have seen Boomtown. That’s because my mom appeared on his show, and I had this sense of his celebrity through my mom.
“He was just so beloved in this city,” Bowen said, “because the presence he had on television was incredibly warm. He was talented, had a cheerful personality, and his real-life personality was exactly the same.”
On Emerson College’s official Facebook page, the comments from former students have been pouring in.
“Heartbroken,” wrote Wendi Health Allegrezza. “He was such an interesting person and a great teacher.”
“I watched Boomtown as child, and at an early age had a strong desire to get involved with television,” wrote Chet Brewster. “When I became a student at Emerson and saw Rex Trailer’s name for a performing television class, I HAD to take it.”
“As a young child, I met him at the North Shore Mall,” wrote Suzanne Provencher. “He always had a genuine smile and a ‘howdy’ when you would pass him on Beacon Street in the ’80s. Boomtown was what we watched every Sunday morning before church. He was a legend, a gentleman, and a leader—and always a cowboy. RIP, Rex—and thank you.”
“He will be missed!” wrote Sherri Raferty.