Alex Trebek was a Canadian-American TV personality and game show host. He’s known by most for being the face of “Jeopardy!,” which he hosted for 37 seasons and more than 8,200 episodes. Trebek recently passed away following a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Born in 1940 in Sudbury, Ontario, George Alexander Trebek grew up in a bilingual French-English household. He attended the University of Ottawa where he received a degree in philosophy before deciding he wanted to pursue a career in broadcast news. Trebek began working for the CBC where he covered national news on radio and television.
In 1966, Trebek switched from traditional news to hosting game shows. He started a quiz show titled “Reach for the Top,” and a few years later started “Jackpot.” Trebek’s big break came in 1984 when the producer-host Merv Griffin chose him to take the reins of a revival of “Jeopardy!” At this time, Trebek sported a thick brown mustache and perm-like haircut — a unique look for a game show host in the 80s.
Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak, the host of “Wheel of Fortune” had a friendly rivalry for many years with the shows being right after one another. They are the longest-running game shows in American history with “Jeopardy!” often being the top-rated quiz show, followed often behind “Wheel of Fortune.” Trebek hosted every episode of “Jeopardy!” except one, on April Fool’s Day in 1997 when he and Sajak traded shows for the day.
Trebek’s passion for knowledge, interest in others and love of the game show netted him five Daytime Emmy Awards for his role as the host of “Jeopardy!” His love of learning also paralleled his goals of helping others.
In 2011 Trebek and his wife started the Trebek Family Foundation. He donated to countless organizations including the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, American Film Institute, the Musk Ox Development Corporation and more.
Sadly, in the Spring of 2019, Trebek announced he’d been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Shortly after this announcement, James Holzhauer captivated viewers with his nearly record-breaking win-streak on “Jeopardy!” He won almost $2.5 million and drew in 13.3 million daily viewers to the show. He later donated some of his winnings to nonprofits, including sending money to an organization researching pancreatic cancer. Trebek’s legacy inspired Holzhauer to give back — as it has for countless other Americans who grew up watching one of the most trusted and beloved figures in American entertainment.
“I don’t think life would be as rewarding if I weren’t helping my fellow man out whenever I get the chance,” Trebek once said.