Few game show hosts are featured in the Guinness Book of Records, but Alex Trebek heads the list. In 2014 he took the record for the most game show episodes hosted by the same presenter’. Alex Trebek was unique among game show hosts for his sheer longevity. He sustained 37 seasons at the helm of Jeopardy!’ with more than 8,200 episodes in the can. That’s an enviable record, and one that won him awards, honors and plaudits throughout his career.
This video is a tribute to Alex Trebek, who died in November 2020 from pancreatic cancer. Here you will learn of his life and career and the joy he brought to so many people over so many years. He was immensely proud of his 3 children and they were a great comfort to him. His eldest daughter Nicky rarely spoke about her father, but now she has opened up to praise and honor him.
Alex Trebek’s career was long and varied. He dominated North American TV and the story makes great viewing. Stay with us and be uplifted by a man whose only desire was to entertain and inform.
Early life and career
George Alexander Trebek was a native of Canada, having been born in Sudbury, Ontario in July 1940. His father had emigrated from Ukraine when a young child. His mother was French-Canadian and Alex grew up speaking both French and English.
Alex attended the University of Ottawa leaving with a BA degree in philosophy. A career in broadcasting was his ambition and even before he left university he was working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). He was keen to establish himself, and took on every tiny role he could. He replaced any announcer who was absent, read the news and did some sports reporting. He became the permanent CBC national radio newsreader and covered curling and horse racing for both TV and radio in Canada,
In 1963 Alex got his first hosting job, fronting the music show Music Hop.’ His first quiz show was Reach for the Top’, that pitted school teams against each other. He was a station host for CBC introducing classical music shows, and he took on the role of host for a regular skating program. His first game show proper was Strategy’ an afternoon show that aired on weekdays. His ability as a game show host soon became apparent.
The United States beckoned and in 1973 Alex took on the job of hosting the American game show The Wizard of Odds’ on NBC. The following year he hosted High Rollers’ which aired from 1974 to 1976 and then from 1978 to 1980, also on NBC. CBS asked him to host Double Dare’ in 1975-76, which only had a short life. Alex’s only other hosting role for CBS was in 1994 for the Pillsbury Bake-Off’ and he continued with this role until 1998.
Alex went back to Canada to host The $128,000 Question’ while continuing to host High Rollers’ in the US. Thus he became one of two personalities hosting shows in both the US and Canada at the same time. (The other host doing the double was Jim Perry).
In 1980 High Rollers’ ended its run and Alex moved on to host Battlestars’ on NBC. Battlestars’ only managed a run of six months, ending in April 1982. The previous September Alex had taken charge of the Canadian game show Pitfall’ and so commuted between the US and Canada once more.
Pitfall’ did not enjoy a long life, and Alex returned to the US to host The New Battlestars.’ That too was shortlived as a game show but fate was to deal Alex the best hand of his life. He was used to good hands as he had competed and won a celebrity week on NBC’s show Card Sharks’ back in 1980.
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Alex was asked to host two pilots for shows that never saw the light of day, but he was also asked to shoot two pilots for a revival of the Sony game show Jeopardy!’ The host of the original series of this show did not wish to carry on the role in the revived series and Alex took over.
The first episode of Jeopardy!’ that Alex hosted aired in 1984. It was the beginning of a long and reputation-enhancing connection with the show. He was destined to set new records and win millions of new fans during his 37 season run.
Despite settling in to the role of Jeopardy!’ host, Alex continued to accept other hosting roles. In 1987, he began hosting the NBC daytime game show Classic Concentration.’ In February 1991 he added To Tell the Truth’ to his roster. Doing this made Alex the first host with three shows airing at the same time on American television.
Both Classic Concentration’ and To Tell the Truth’ ended their runs later in 1991, and Alex concentrated on Jeopardy!’ until 1994 when he took over the host’s role for the Pillsbury Bake-Off’ that we have already mentioned.
January 2020 saw Alex host a special edition of Jeopardy!’ called The Greatest of All Time’. In this the three top money winners in the show’s history were to compete for the greatest’ title.
Alex’s battle with pancreatic cancer dominated the final year of his life, but he continued to host Jeopardy!’ recording episodes in October 2020 that would be broadcast posthumously.
Other roles and appearances
Altogether Alex appeared in 48 movies or TV shows. In only two did he play a character other than himself. In most of his appearances he was the host of Jeopardy!’ His two alternative characters were as Alex Lebek in Arthur’ as a game show host, and as a Men in Black’ agent in The X-Files’ season 3.
In 1995 he revisited his roots in broadcast news by standing in for a week on Good Morning America.’ He also made guest appearances on a wide variety of talk shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live!’
Alex Trebek’s Personal Life
Alex Trebek first married in 1974, to fellow broadcaster Elaine Callei. Elaine already had a daughter, Nicky, whom Alex adopted. Alex and Elaine did not have any children of their own. The couple divorced in 1981.
Alex’s second marriage was to Jean Currivan who worked in real estate. They went on to have two children, Emily and Matthew. Emily now works in broadcasting herself. Matthew is a restauranteur.
Alex’s state of health had been of some concern before he was diagnosed with cancer. He suffered at least two minor heart attacks in 2007 and 2014 and suffered complications from a fall in 2018 that required surgery to remove blood clots in his brain. These health issues did not prevent him from carrying on with his work.
The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer came in March 2019. Early treatment proved successful and some of the tumors linked to his cancer had shrunk. He credited chemotherapy for the improvement. By March 2020 he was able to report that he had survived much longer than had been expected and hoped to keep going for another year at least.
Alex’s situation was complicated by the arrival in the USA of the Covid-19 virus. Episodes of Jeopardy!’ were recorded without studio audiences but was suspended completely for the summer months. Alex was particularly at risk being a vulnerable person approaching his 80th year. This did not deter him when the taping of episodes resumed in the month of August, ready for the 37th season.
Alex Trebek had been raised in a Catholic household and remained a committed Christian throughout his life. He often stated that he had faith in God and would face the future with both hope and confidence. In July 2020 he updated on his condition saying he was mightily fatigued but his treatment was working.
That same month Alex published his memoir The Answer is …. Reflections on my Life.’ By October, his condition had worsened and he underwent surgery. He was determined to record further episodes of Jeopardy!’ which he did, despite having to split his workload over two days rather than completing in one. The final episode was recorded on 29 October.
Alex Trebek died at his Los Angeles home on 8 November having fought pancreatic cancer for more than 18 months.
Nicky Trebek’s Tribute to her Dad
Nicky was 6 years old when her mother married Alex Trebek. As time passed, the two of them became close and Alex adopted Nicky. They continued to be close after her mother and Alex divorced. She followed Alex into showbusiness, working behind the scenes on films and even on Jeopardy!’ itself. She also worked as a model and appeared in magazines such as Vogue’ and Cosmopolitan.’ Her music career has seen he work with stars like John Mellencamp and Phil Collins.
Now, Nicky has paid her heartfelt tribute to the immensely popular game show host and television personality. Simple tributes often are the most moving, and Nicky’s took the form of a simple heart in colors of blue, purple, pink and red, surrounded by a background of similar colors plus yellow and orange. She placed the tribute on Instagram and immediately received praise for the appropriateness of her homage. The simplicity and depth of the tribute led many of her followers to send her sympathetic messages of love and support.
She has also uploaded onto Instagram a photo of the religiously themed votive candles that he had lit in Alex’s memory. Other photos feature her with her father and sister. There was clearly a real bond between Nicky and her adopted father. That closeness continues with her brother and sister. They would all often accompany Alex to awards events with their mother.
The Jeopardy!’ production team produced a moving video tribute to Alex Trebek which they aired just after the last episode he hosted went out. It was also released online.
Guest hosts will take it in turns to front the game show until a regular host is recruited. The first of the guest hosts is Ken Jennings and he devoted time in the first episode to pay tribute to the great man. He stressed just how much Alex will be missed.
Many past contestants have also paid their tributes, recounting how they found Alex to be such a lovely man who treated them all with respect.
Alex Trebek was a great game show host who had a positive and uplifting effect on all who met him. Here at Fact Verse we hope you found this video of his life and work just as uplifting. Please do like’ the video and subscribe to Fact Verse to access hundreds of other outstanding videos. When you comment, be sure to tell us if you are a Jeopardy!’ fan or whether you prefer another game show.
Here at Fact Verse we would like to end this video by sending Alex Trebek’s family our condolences at their loss.