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Alex Trebek

George Alexander "Alex" Trebek (pronounced /trɨˈbɛk/; born July 22, 1940) is a game show host. Since 1984 he has been the host of the game show Jeopardy!, and prior to that, he hosted game shows such as Pitfall and Strategy. He has appeared in numerous television series, usually as himself. A native of Canada, he became a naturalized United States citizen in 1998.[1]


Early life

Trebek was born in Sudbury, Ontario, the son of Lucille (née Lagacé), a Franco-Ontarian, and George Edward Trebek, a Ukrainian-Canadian immigrant. He was educated at a Jesuit school before graduating from Toronto's Malvern Collegiate Institute in 1958, and later the University of Ottawa with a degree in philosophy. As a student at the University of New Hampshire he was a member of the English Debating Society. Interested in a career in broadcast news, he began his broadcasting career working for the CBC as a newscaster and sportscaster. Trebek specialized in national news and covering a wide range of special events for the CBC's radio and television divisions, including curling[2] and horse racing.[3]

Trebek once attended Collège Militaire Royal de Saint-Jean, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada, but for only six days.[4] Trebek briefly talked about his military school experiences in a 2003 interview in Esquire magazine.[5]

Rise in television

In 1966, he started hosting the high school quiz show, Reach for the Top. Trebek hosted a Canadian television show called Jackpot! in 1970. In 1973, he moved to the United States and worked for NBC as host of a new game show, The Wizard of Odds. A year later, Trebek hosted the popular Merrill Heatter-Bob Quigley game show, High Rollers, which had two incarnations on NBC (1974–76 and 1978–80) and an accompanying syndicated season (1975–76). In between stints as host of High Rollers, Trebek hosted the short-lived CBS game show, Double Dare, which turned out to be both the only CBS network show Trebek hosted and the first show he hosted for what was then Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions, as well as the second season of the syndicated series The $128,000 Question, which taped in Toronto. Since the second incarnation of High Rollers premiered while The $128,000 Question was still airing and taping episodes, Trebek became one of two hosts to emcee shows in both the United States and Canada, joining Jim Perry, who was hosting Definition and Headline Hunters in Canada and Card Sharks, which coincidentally premiered the same day as High Rollers in 1978, in the United States. Trebek's Francophone side was put on display in 1978, in a special bilingual edition of Reach for the Top and its Radio-Canada equivalent Génies en herbe. In this show Trebek alternated smoothly between French and English throughout.[6]

Unlike other hosts of the day, Trebek did not make many guest appearances as panelist or player on other shows; his only guest appearance was on a special week of NBC's Card Sharks,in 1980, where he and several other game show hosts (including Allen Ludden, Bill Cullen, Wink Martindale, Jack Clark, Gene Rayburn, and Jim Lange) competed in a week-long round robin tournament for charity. Trebek won the tournament, defeating Bill Cullen in the finals.

After High Rollers was cancelled in 1980, Trebek moved on to Battlestars for NBC . The series debuted in April 1981 and was canceled in 1982 after only seven months on the air. In September 1981 Trebek took the helm of the syndicated Pitfall, which taped in Vancouver and forced him to commute as he had while hosting High Rollers and The $128,000 Question in 1978. After both series ended, Trebek hosted a revival of Battlestars called The New Battlestars that ended after thirteen weeks, then shot a series of pilots for other series for producers Merrill Heatter (who he had worked for on High Rollers and Battlestars) and Merv Griffin. The Heatter pilots were Malcolm, an NBC-ordered pilot featuring Trebek with an animated character as his co-host, and Lucky Numbers, an attempt at a revival of High Rollers that didn't sell. For Griffin he shot two pilots for a revival of Jeopardy!, which he began hosting in 1984 and has done ever since.

In 1987, while still hosting Jeopardy!, Trebek returned to daytime television as host of NBC's Classic Concentration, his second show for Mark Goodson. He hosted both shows simultaneously until September 20, 1991, when Classic Concentration aired its final episode. In 1991 Trebek made broadcast history by becoming the first person to host three American game shows at the same time, earning this distinction on February 4, 1991, when he took over for Lynn Swann as host of NBC's To Tell The Truth, which he hosted until the end of the series' run on May 31, 1991.

Trebek also appears in many Colonial Penn Life Insurance commercials, and reprises his role as host of To Tell the Truth in a 2010 advertisement for DirecTV.

Personal life

Divorced from his first wife, Elaine Callei, he has been married to Jean Currivan-Trebek, a real estate businesswoman and the mother of his two children, since April 30, 1990.[1]

Trebek became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1998. He now lives in Studio City, California with his wife, Jean, and two children, Matthew (born 1990) and Emily (born 1993). In an interview with a talk show host, Trebek complained that "I had only been a citizen for two weeks when I received a summons to appear for jury duty!"[7]

In 1996, Trebek ran the Olympic Torch in Jacksonville, Florida, through a leg of its journey to Alaska.[8]

In late 2001, during Jeopardy!'s 18th season, Trebek shaved the mustache that he had worn for over 30 years. He wore a fake mustache for the first half of the April 1, 2008, episode as an April Fools' joke.

Trebek and Pat Sajak, host of Wheel of Fortune, traded places on April Fools' Day 1997. Sajak hosted Jeopardy!, and Trebek hosted Wheel of Fortune with Sajak's wife, Lesly, as Trebek's co-host. Sajak and Wheel of Fortune co-host Vanna White played contestants at the Wheel, with winnings going toward charities.

On Friday, January 30, 2004, Trebek escaped major injury after falling asleep behind the wheel of his pickup truck while driving alone on a rural road in the Central Coast town of Templeton, California, returning from a family home in Lake Nacimiento. The truck sideswiped a string of mailboxes, flew 45 feet[9] over an embankment, and came to rest against a utility pole in a ditch. Trebek was not cited for the accident and returned to work taping Jeopardy! the following Tuesday.[10][11]

Trebek appeared on Celebrity Poker Showdown in 2005. He came in second place in his qualifying game, losing to Cheryl Hines. On May 9, 2008, Trebek was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live, on which he discussed his 24-year career as the host of Jeopardy! Kimmel's other guest was Kelsey Grammer, who had won an episode of Celebrity Jeopardy 17 years earlier. The segment included a video clip from that episode.

Trebek formerly[12] owned and managed a 700 acre (2.8 km²) ranch near Paso Robles in Creston, California previously owned by Fred and Helen Sahadi, parents of trainer Jenine Sahadi.[13] The property was known as Cardiff Stud Farm but Trebek renamed it Creston Farms where he bred, trained and provided state-of-the-art care for Thoroughbred race horses.[14] Among Thoroughbreds raced by Trebek, his colt, Reba's Gold, is a stakes-winning son of Slew O'Gold.[15]

On December 11, 2007, Trebek was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after suffering a minor heart attack in his home. He was released on December 15, 2007.[16] Trebek returned to the production of Jeopardy! as scheduled on January 14, 2008 to tape the Teen Tournament.[17][18][19]

Honors and awards

The handprints of Alex Trebek in front of Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park

Alex Trebek has been awarded five Outstanding Game Show Host Emmy Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (located at 6501 Hollywood Boulevard, near those for Ann-Margret and Vincent Price).

He hosts the annual National Geographic Bee in the U.S. and The Great Canadian Geography Challenge in Canada. Active with the World Vision charitable organization, he has traveled to many Third World countries with World Vision projects, taping reports on the group's efforts on behalf of children around the world.[20]

In 1995, Trebek, and the entire Jeopardy! crew became involved with the USO, and have appeared on several military bases throughout the world, both in an attempt to find contestants, and as a morale booster for the troops.

The American Federation for the Blind in 2001 awarded Trebek with one of six Access Awards for his role in accommodating notable Jeopardy! champion Eddie Timanus.

In March 2006, it was announced that he would receive a star on Canada's Walk of Fame. He is the third game show host to be inducted (the first being Monty Hall of Let's Make a Deal as well as Howie Mandel of Deal or No Deal). His star is located on King Street West near those of the Crazy Canucks and Eugene Levy.


Due to Trebek's long history on television, he is a familiar figure and therefore a popular parody target; parodies usually emphasize his stoic nature and his attempts at native pronunciation of foreign terms. Parodies of him have included Eugene Levy's portrayal of a game show host named "Alex Trebel" on Second City Television, Ike Barinholtz's impersonation of him on MadTV, and Family Guy Adam West's dual parody of Trebek and DC Comic's Mister Mxyzptlk, banishing Trebek "back to the fifth dimension where he belongs" by writing "Kebert Xela" (Alex Trebek backwards) during a Final Jeopardy! round in the episode "I Take Thee Quagmire". On an actual episode of Jeopardy!, contestant Jared Cohen wagered his last dollar with the question "What is Kebert Xela", then proceeded to explain its significance after Trebek had read it. In the children's show Arthur, the title characater appears on "Riddle Quest" in the episode Arthur and the Big Riddle/Double Dare, where Arthur and another contestant must answer riddles posed by host "Alex Lebek" (voiced by Trebek). Trebek has also played himself or a version of himself on various shows, as well as being the subject of a practical joke in an episode of TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes, finding himself the subject of a made-up personality cult. Trebek also briefly appears as himself in the 1998 movie Mafia! during a parade in early 20th-century Italy. The best-known parody of Trebek is Will Ferrell's portrayal on Saturday Night Live's parody sketches of Celebrity Jeopardy!; Trebek himself appeared in the final such sketch in Ferrell's 2002 finale as a series regular (there have since been two other sketches, one in 2005 and another in 2009, when Ferrell hosted).

Television and film appearances

Shows hosted

  • Music Hop (1962–1972) - Host from 1963–1964
  • Vacation Time (1964) - Co-host
  • Reach for the Top (1966–1973) - Quizmaster
  • Strategy (1969) - Host
  • The Wizard of Odds (1973) - Host
  • Double Dare (1976–1977)
  • High Rollers - Host (NBC, 1974–1976, 1978–1980)
  • Stars on Ice (CTV, 1976–1980) - Host
  • The $128,000 Question (1977–1978)
  • Wall $treet (1980–1981)
  • Battlestars (1981–1983)
  • Pitfall (1981–1982)
  • Malcolm (1983 pilot)
  • Jeopardy! (1984–present)
  • Lucky Numbers (1985 Pilot)
  • VTV-Value Television (1987) - Co-host with Meredith MacRae
  • Classic Concentration (1987–1991)
  • Super Jeopardy! - Host (1990)
  • To Tell the Truth (1990–1991) - Host from February to May 1991
  • Wheel of Fortune - Host for April Fools' Day episode in 1997, also a substitute host in 1981
  • Barris & Company - Co-host/Announcer
  • Outside/Inside - Host
  • Pick and Choose - Host
  • T.G.I.F. - Announcer
  • Live from the Hollywood Bowl - Host of annual live broadcasts.
  • The Red Badge of Courage / Heart of Courage - Canadian-produced show highlighting brave individuals
  • The National Geographic Bee national finals - Host (1989–present)
  • The Pillsbury Bake-Off- Host (1996–1998)

Cameo appearances

  • Mama's Family (1987) - himself as the host of Jeopardy!
  • Cheers (1990) - himself as the host of Jeopardy!
  • Predator 2 (1990) -himself as the host of Jeopardy! (Voice)
  • The Golden Girls (1992) - himself as the host of Jeopardy!
  • White Men Can't Jump (1992) - himself as the host of Jeopardy!
  • Short Cuts (1993) - himself as the host of Jeopardy!
  • Rugrats (1993) - as Alan Quebec, the host of Super Stumpers, on which Didi Pickles is a contestant
  • The Nanny (1995) - himself as the host of Jeopardy!
  • Beverly Hills, 90210 (1995) - himself as the host of Jeopardy!
  • The X-Files (1995-96 season: episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space")
  • The Simpsons (1997) - himself as the host of Jeopardy! in Miracle on Evergreen Terrace (Voice)
  • Finding Forrester (2000) - himself as the host of Jeopardy!
  • Arthur (2000) - as Alex Lebek, the host of Riddle Quest, on which Arthur is a contestant
  • Pepper Ann (2001) - As himself in the 2001 finale. His character was to have married the title character's mother Lydia Pearson sometime during the fifteen year span between the events of the series and the futuristic final episode.
  • Family Guy (2006) - himself as the host of Jeopardy! (Voice)
  • The Bucket List (2008) - himself as the host of Jeopardy! (Voice)


  1. "Who Is Alex Trebek?", CBS Los Angeles biography, Apr 20, 2007. URL retrieved September 21, 2007
  2. TVArchive.ca - CBC Championship Curling
  3. NewspaperARCHIVE.com - Search old newspaper articles online
  4. CBC Podcast, "Q" with Jian Ghomeshi, Interview originally broadcast 2008-05-28 (relevant content is at end of interview), URL retrieved October 10, 2008.
  5. A. J. Jacobs (March 2003). "What I've Learned: Alex Trebek". Esquire. http://www.esquire.com/features/what-ive-learned/ESQ0403-APR_WIL. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  6. http://archives.cbc.ca/programs/2089/
  7. Alex Trebek : Television Newscaster Biography
  8. "J! Archive - Show #5365, aired Friday, December 28, 2007 - Contestant interveiew". 2007-12-28. http://www.j-archive.com/showgame.php?game_id=2252. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "I'm sure there were as many heartwarming stories as there were wacky adventures associated with the carrying of the torch. I carried it in Florida." 
  9. "J! Archive - Show #5012, aired Tuesday, May 30, 2006 - Contestant interview". 2006-05-30. http://www.j-archive.com/showgame.php?game_id=984. Retrieved 2006-12-29. "I got you beat. When I fell asleep at the wheel, my pickup flew 45 feet." 
  10. "'Jeopardy!' host Trebek in car crash". Associated Press. 2004-01-31. http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/TV/01/31/trebek.ap/index.html. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  11. "'Jeopardy!' host hopes to return Tuesday". Associated Press. 2004-02-02. http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/TV/02/02/people.trebek.ap/index.html. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  12. CBC Radio program "Q", interview with Jian Ghomeshi, 2008-05-28
  13. Jenine Sahadi - NTRA
  14. http://www.ctba.com/farms01/CRESTONFRMS.pdf
  15. Rebas Gold Horse Pedigree
  16. Albiniak, Paige (2007-12-16). "Alex Trebek Released from Hospital: Jeopardy! Host Heads Home to Recuperate from Heart Attack". Broadcasting & Cable. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6513228.html. Retrieved 2008-02-12. "Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek was released from Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Hospital Saturday [December 15]..." 
  17. "Jeopardy! official web site Alex Trebek announcement". 2007-12-11. http://www.jeopardy.com/announcementalextrebek20071211.php. Retrieved 2007-12-11. "Alex Trebek, host of Jeopardy!, has had a minor heart attack. He is resting comfortably in a Los Angeles hospital, and he will be back in the studio for the next scheduled tapings in January." 
  18. Jablon, Robert (2007-12-11). "Trebek Hospitalized With Heart Attack". Associated Press. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jQkNHtRpZWQh_mFyiHvkdIMP9eIAD8TFFPGG0. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  19. "Interview with Alex Trebek". The Ellen DeGeneres Show. 2008-01-18. "We've got our Teen Tournament coming up in two weeks. We just taped that. I went back to work, felt great doing it."
  20. World Vision's website says Trebek has been a sponsor of the charity since the early 1980s ("Bid on the Jeopardy set!", World Vision website, 2002). His travels publicizing the charity's work include trips to Zambia ("Alex Trebek to Visit Zambia with World Vision" World Vision website, June 21, 2007) and Uganda ("Celebrities Supporting World Vision", World Vision Canada website). World Vision's website says that Trebek "been regularly involved with World Vision and is often seen on the organization's television shows" (World Vision Canada website, ibid)

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