Alex Trebek, the longtime host of the quiz competition show “Jeopardy!” died on Nov. 8, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
His spirit and legacy, however, live on, as he was an inspiration to many.
Trebek was born on July 22, 1940 in Greater Sudbury, Ontario in Canada. He studied at the University of Ottawa where he pursued a degree in philosophy. Upon graduation from college, he decided to instead take up journalism. After pursuing this new field, he landed a job as a fill-in reporter at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., where he quickly gained a reputation for being a cool on-screen personality. Once he graduated with his degree in journalism, Trebek hosted a more prominent and nationally recognized show in Canada called “Jackpot.”
In 1973, Trebek left his home country to travel to Hollywood to make a name for himself. Trebek’s first American broadcasting gig was the show “The Wizard of Odds.” Though the show only lasted one season, he was asked to host the replacement, “High Rollers.” This show was hosted as a pair of two-year deals on NBC. Besides “High Rollers,” Trebek expanded his repertoire with other shows that were shown in both the U.S. and Canada, such as “The $128,000 Question” and “Pitfall.”
Trebek’s most notable work did not come until 1984 when he was asked to host the revival of the popular quiz show “Jeopardy!” This quiz show is unique in its format as clues are given in the form of answers and contestants “buzz in” to answer in the form of a question. Trebek was the host for 37 seasons, and created some iconic Final Jeopardy rounds and games along the way.
During the end of one game, a contestant did not know the answer to the final question. What he did proved to be a hit for Philadelphia Eagles fans: he attempted an answer and below it wrote “Eagles Super Bowl LII Champs.” Being that he obviously got the question wrong, he wagered $4,133 in homage to the final Super Bowl score against the New England Patriots.
Another Final Jeopardy answer had Trebek choked up. The answer was “We [love] you, Alex” written with a heart, in response to the news of Trebek’s health condition.
Though Trebek was facing a lot of health problems, he did not give up his position as host of “Jeopardy!” In an interview with ABC News’ T.J. Holmes, he opened up about his mental health, talked about his memoir and did not shy away from some humor, stating that he would still be the host of the show regardless of his condition.
“My doctor has told me that he is counting on me celebrating two years of — survivorship past the diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. And that two years happens in February,” Trebek said. “So I expect to be around ‘cause he said I will be around. And I expect to be hosting the show if I am around.”
Trebek’s positive and cool on-screen personality is something that will be remembered for years to come. One of his well-known contestants, James Holzhauer, donated a portion of his $2 million winnings to pancreatic cancer in honor of Trebek. Ken Jennings, among other notable “Jeopardy!” contestants, also paid respects to Trebek following his death.
In his interview with Holmes, Trebek also talked about his wonderful wife and family who have been a huge support system during his struggle with cancer. He expressed how he felt like a “burden” because of his sadness. Nonetheless, his wife was there to help him through these struggles. Besides his family support, he expressed that shooting the hit quiz show gave him strength and motivation to keep going.
Trebek’s legacy lives on in his new memoir “The Answer is…: Reflections on My Life,” wherein he talks about his life and prominent role as the host of “Jeopardy!”
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