Contestant: Who is Alex Trebek?
Alex: Correct. Pick again.
George Alexander "Alex" Trebek OC (July 22, 1940 - November 8, 2020) was a Canadian-American television personality best known for hosting Jeopardy! as well as a plethora of shows since the 1960s. His work ranged from many types of shows: commercials, game shows, music shows, and even sport events.
Trebek's first hosting gig was Music Hop in 1963, along with a myriad of shows created for CBC. After moving his efforts to the States, he became mainly known for his roles as a Game Show Host. The longest-tenured by far has been Jeopardy!, which he hosted from 1984 to 2020. He would go on to win seven Daytime Emmy Awards during his tenure on the program. Trebek even set the Guinness World Record for the most game show episodes hosted by the same presenter on the same program in 2014 (overtaking the legendary Bob Barker). He was also a longtime spokesman for Colonial Penn Insurance.
Trebek officially became an American citizen in 1998.
In March 2019, Trebek announced his diagnosis of Stage IV pancreatic cancer. As he underwent treatments for the disease, he continued hosting Jeopardy until his death on November 8, 2020.
In September of 2021, the producers of Jeopardy! re-dedicated Stage 10 at Sony Pictures Studios, the show's long-time home, the Alex Trebek Stage in his honor.
Shows hosted by Alex:
- Music Hop (1963-1964)
- The Wizard of Odds (1973-74)
- Double Dare (1976) (1976-77)
- High Rollers (1974-76, 1978-80)
- Pitfall! (1981)
- Battlestars (1981-82)
- Starcade (1982 pilots only)
- Malcolm (1983, unsold pilot)
- Jeopardy! (1984-2020)
- Classic Concentration (1987-91)
- To Tell the Truth (1990-91; that version's third host note )
- Wheel of Fortune (1997 note )
Roles in fiction
Here are the tropes:
- Actually Pretty Funny: Classic Concentration showed a lighthearted and fun side of Trebek that you didn't get to see on Jeopardy!, which has contributed to its newfound popularity since Buzzr has put it back out in reruns.
- Approval of God: He has stated that he was a fan of Will Ferrell's portrayal of him in the Celebrity Jeopardy! skits on Saturday Night Live (even appearing As Himself on Ferrell's final episode), as well as Eugene Levy's much lesser known portrayal in the High Q skits on SCTV. Trebek noted that he never met Sean Connery (his SNL Sitcom Arch-Nemesis) in real life.
- Canada, Eh?: He was a native of Ontario, and while not frequent, he sometimes brought up his Canadian heritage for laughs. He also used the Canadian pronunciation "soary" regularly on Jeopardy! As he was also bilingual in French, he would tend to pronounce French words or French loanwords in the "proper" manner (most notably "genre").
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': On a talk show, Alex announced that as soon as he had become an American citizen, he was called for jury duty within the first week.
- Cool Old Guy: Despite being born in 1940, Trebek had been idolized by television fans young enough to be his grandchildren. This is especially true with his long-running tenure as Jeopardy! host.
- Deadpan Snarker: He sometimes got in a few wisecracks during Jeopardy! contestant interviews, and in public appearances, he would often add a few more, including many targeted at himself.
- Determinator: Kept hosting Jeopardy! and maintained his poise right up until the very end. Those who worked on the program said that for the taping of the final week of shows he was in incredible pain, but you'd never know it from watching.
- Gallows Humor: His public announcement of his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer ended with him stating that he wished to beat the low survival rate "because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years." Unfortunately, he passed roughly a year and a half after the announcement.
- Gentleman Snarker: As mentioned above, he was known to crack wise from time to time, but, good-natured man that he was, whenever he did so, he did but jest; no offense in the world.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: He often displayed this on Jeopardy!, usually reading foreign words in as close to the original language as he can approximate, or speaking to contestants in other languages if they mention fluency in them.
- Guest Host: Most notably, Alex took over Pat Sajak's hosting duties on Wheel of Fortune on April 1, 1997 while the latter hosted Jeopardy! Previously, he guest hosted a week of shows in August 1980 when then-host Chuck Woolery took ill. Alex later said that when Merv Griffin talked about reviving Jeopardy!, it was because Merv remembered Alex from hosting those guest shows.
- Nice Guy: Everyone who has ever known him can tell you with certainty that he was one of the friendliest and most genuinely gracious and humble people around.
- Old Shame:
- During a 2002 episode of Jeopardy!, Alex accidentally referred to his first American game show The Wizard of Odds as The Wizard of Oz. He later admitted that it was "easily forgotten", and jokingly asked "Was it me or was it the show?" before confirming it was the latter.
- He also didn't have fond memories of Pitfall!, largely because one of his paychecks from the show bounced (he had it framed in his office). The production company, Catalena Productions, filed for bankruptcy at the midpoint of the show's lifespan which also resulted in many of Pitfall's contestants not receiving prizes they'd won. Trebek wasn't exactly pleased when a contestant brought it up as "the best thing ever" when he was young on an episode of Jeopardy! some years later, and he jabbed the contestant by saying that program was the one time he was "stiffed for his salary". According to Alex, when Merv Griffin offered him the chance to host a revival of Jeopardy! his first question to Merv was "Will I get paid?" having learned from this experience.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Trebek's Canadian accent was detectable to viewers who were paying attention, most often when he would say "sorry" to an incorrect or losing contestant.
- Phrase Catcher: "Thank you, Johnny" or some variation thereof to Johnny Gilbert's "And now, here is the host of Jeopardy!- ALEX TREBEK!"
- Playing Against Type: Trebek was almost always typecast as the game show host, but he'd sometimes branch out.
- In one episode of The X-Files, he played a member of The Men in Black. (They wanted Johnny Cash, but they couldn't get him.) Lampshaded in-universe- the reports of one of those guys looking like Alex Trebek just makes the people who reported it look more crazy. (That episode also featured Charles Nelson Reilly, who he had worked with on Battlestars- CNR actually met his long-term partner there, Patrick Hughes III, backstage.)
- Alex appeared in an episode of Vega$ (his name misspelled in the credits as 'Alex Trebeck'), as the grieving husband of a character played by Linda Thompson, but it's pretty much a cameo and he's only on-screen for about a minute.
- Posthumous Credit: In Free Guy. The film originally would have been released in July 2020, but due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, it was delayed until August 2021, several months after Trebek's passing. Fittingly, it released the same day as the end of Alex's final season of the show.
- Porn Stache: His iconic mustache was originally like this, but it got trimmed down. He shaved it off in 2001.
- Shout-Out: To Mr. Mxyzptlk. In one Family Guy episode, he vanished when Mayor Adam West tricked him into saying "Kebert Xela". Which came full circle when an actual Jeopardy contestant who had $1 going into Final Jeopardy wrote down "What is Kebert Xela?" as his answer, hoping to send Alex to "another dimension." Alex, true to form, intentionally mispronounced it.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Alex mentioned his love for chocolate on some of the shows he hosted. He admitted to being a chocoholic on a 1993 episode of Jeopardy!, and he tried to talk a contestant into sharing a chocolate-themed prize with him on Classic Concentration.
- Typecasting: Whenever he appeared in roles on non-game shows, Alex often played the host of a quiz show.
- Vetinari Job Security: Jeopardy! has struggled to replace him and went into Season 38 still without a permanent host.