Jeopardy’s most well-known host, Alex Trebek, has sadly passed away at the age of 80 from pancreatic cancer. Trebek has been entertaining us on the long-running hit American game show for thirty-seven years, hosting more than 8200 episodes in a widely impressive feat. It is, according to Sony Pictures, “the most of any presenter of any single game show in history.”
Many living in American households, myself included, have been exposed to Alex Trebek’s genius, charisma and personality on television for decades. Trebek is one of the great faces and icons of the country’s pop culture. Many young Americans (especially millennials) grew up watching Trebek at an early young age in our living rooms with our families.
The Life And Times Of Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek was born on July 20, 1940. He was raised at Sudbury in Ontario, Canada and was the son of George Edward Trebek and Lucille Lagace Trebek. Trebek attended Sudbury High School and enrolled in the University Of Ottawa, where he studied Philosophy. He was able to graduate and earn his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy in 1961. Trebek’s interest in broadcasting started when he was a member of his University’s English Debating Society, and what followed became a great and legendary career that lasted five decades.
Alex Trebek’s career into television first started as a news reporter for the Canadian News Broadcasting Corporation. However, in 1966 he switched from news journalism to become a TV game show host. His first big break was with a quiz show called Reach For The Top, which he then followed up with another show years later called Jackpot.
But Trebek’s biggest break was with a famous game show we all know and loved, called Jeopardy. He became the host of Jeopardy in 1981, which was a revival of the show that used to air from 1964 till 1979. Trebek hosting Jeopardy helped catapult the show to a cult phenomenon and himself into stardom.
Through that program, Trebek was able win many awards. Some of those awards include five Daytime Emmy Awards and the current record of The Guinness Book of Records for most hosted game shows – the original holder was Bob Parker of The Price Is Right. Trebek also appeared in many films and shows such as The Rain Man, Charlie’s Angels, Saturday Night Live and Seinfeld.
Trebek loved that Jeopardy inspired millions of fans and audiences. He explained in an interview with CNN that “he loved that Jeopardy popularized intelligence,” which made it important for him. Through knowledge, he was able to inspire others and change many of his contestants’ lives. Trebek was also a very humble man, and during with an interview with Hollywood Reporter he downplayed his awards and records and said, “I’m just enjoying what I am doing, I’m happy to have a job, I like the show, I like the contestants and it pays well.”
Trebek was also a huge NBA Basketball fan. He loved the sport, having been the point guard of his high school team. His favorite NBA team was the Los Angeles Lakers, and he adored the purple and gold. He supported the team since 1973 and would attend games throughout his life, even making his own Lakers Mt. Rushmore that included legends such as Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Earvin (Magic) Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and the late Kobe Bryant. It’s sad to say Lakers Nation has also lost another icon.
Trebek was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March of 2019. When he announced his diagnosis, many fans and media figures showed support and loving well wishes. However, Trebek did not quit and continued hosting Jeopardy until his passing. He persevered and continued working while taking his chemotherapy and medications until his final recorded episode. His hard work and willingness to fight showed true determination, heart, and perseverance.
Trebek passed away on November 8, 2020 and is survived by his wife of 30 years, Jean Trebek, and his three children.
Alex Trebek’s legacy will never be forgotten. He was a pioneer in TV game show hosting, and he valued knowledge and integrity in people. He showed love, kindness, humbleness, and respect to his friends, peers, family, and contestants. Trebek will be forever a great icon in American television, who helped inspire many game show hosts of this current generation.