Alex Trebek: Longtime Jeopardy! host dead at 80

Known for his quick wit and being the host with all the answers, Alex Trebek was the face of Jeopardy! The Canadian-American personality hosted the popular game show for a record-setting 37 years after starting from 1984. 

George Alexander Trebek, who went by Alex Trebek, was born July 22, 1940, in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Fluent in both English and French, Trebek got his start working part-time at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio to help pay his college tuition. Upon graduating from the University of Ottawa, Trebek earned a full-time position at CBC providing news, weather, and sports broadcasts. He later transferred to Toronto, where his excellent poise, composure, and improvisation skills earned him the spot of hosting a wide range of programs and special events, such as Music Hop (1963-64) and Reach for the Top (1966-73). Inspired by fellow Canadian Alan Thicke, Trebek began hosting game shows in the United States. 

In 1984, Trebek became the host of the syndicated version of Jeopardy! and it took the world by storm. While quiz shows were already well known in the game show community, Jeopardy!’s unique format of trivia—questions/clues as answers and responses as questions—revolutionized the game show industry forever. The excitement brought by this show was only compounded by Trebek’s decorum and charismatic personality; he proved to be a popular host. 

This style of trivia expanded into school classrooms. Teachers would often use the format of Jeopardy! to test if students were able to retain the content previously taught. When asked about her opinion regarding this method of teaching, GN student Julie Paska ’21 answered, “I believe Jeopardy! is a super effective way to teach students content. It’s engaging, interactive, and a great way to get students to pay attention. Competition drives hardworking students to succeed, and Jeopardy! always gets the job done.”

In March 2019, Trebek announced that he had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer but would continue to put his suit on every day and host episodes of Jeopardy! On many occasions, Trebek detailed the excruciating pain he was experiencing, but his undying spirit allowed him to power through every single recording. 

According to The New York Times, “Trebek’s fans and Jeopardy! enthusiasts rallied around Trebek during his final months as they saw him as the essence of durability.” Unfortunately, on November 8, 2020, more than two years after his initial diagnosis, Trebek passed away in his Los Angeles home at the age of 80, surrounded by his friends and family. Today, Trebek is remembered as the host of Jeopardy! Tomorrow, he will be remembered as the man that brought smiles to all of America every night.