Alex Trebek

Alex Trebek Headshot

Game Show Host • Personality

Birth Name: Giorgi Suka-Alex Trebek

Birth Date: July 22, 1940

Death Date: November 8, 2020

Birth Place: Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

One of the most recognizable non-acting TV personalities in that medium's history, the charismatically unflappable Alex Trebek was part of that most venerable pantheon known as "The Greatest Game Show Hosts of All-Time." As host of the hit game show "Jeopardy!" (syndicated, 1984- ), Trebek joined such luminary figures as Bob Barker, Monte Hall, and Richard Dawson as one of the few true icons of the genre - that rare host who came to define a game show with nothing more than his presence.

Born Georgi Suri-Alex Trebek in 1940 to Ukranian and French parentage, Trebek attended the University of Ottawa where he earned a degree in philosophy. By his senior year, however, Trebek found his philosophical interests waning. Surprisingly, with little to no work available for philosophy majors even then, Trebek made the wise choice to pursue a career in the only slightly more marketable field of broadcasting.

Landing his first professional gig straight out of college in 1958, Trebek started out as a fill-in reporter and newscaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Earning a reputation for his cool on-air demeanor, Trebek soon became a staple of both CBC's TV and radio divisions. By the mid 1960's, however, Trebek again became restless. In 1965, Trebek made a bold decision to leave newscasting behind entirely to try his hand in a different medium - the higher-profile -- albeit, far less respectable - arena of game shows. Having finally shed much of the taint from the notorious "quiz show corruption" scandals of the late 1950's, the genre was starting to resurge in popularity in both Canada and the United States. Ignoring the criticism of his erstwhile peers, (many of whom dismissed game show hosting to being little more than "electronic carnival barking"), Trebek embarked on his new career and never looked back.

Bringing along his trademark poise and dignity to the proceedings, Trebek's first hosting gig was for a Canadian quiz program called "Reach for the Top" (CBC) , which pitted local area high school students against one another for scholarships and prize money. From there, Trebek graduated to a higher-rent gig in 1970 - the nationally televised game show, "Jackpot" in 1970. Still, it was not until 1973, when Trebek was brought aboard as host of the new American game show, "The Wizard of Odds" (NBC, 1973-74) that his career really began taking off. A fairly unmemorable question-and answer style competition, "The Wizard of Odds" was cancelled after just one season. However, in 1974, the mustachioed Canadian quickly rebounded by signing on as the host of the popular new Heatter-Quigley game show, "High Rollers" (NBC, 1974-1980).

Over the next 10 years, Trebek remained consistently employed, moving from one B-list game show to another, including "The $128,000 Question" (1977-78) and "Pitfall" (CBC, 1981-1982). Despite maintaining a high profile during this period, Trebek was still far from being a household name.

All of that changed, however, in 1983 - the year Roger and Michael King, co-chairmen of the television distribution giant, KingWorld Entertainment, bought the syndication rights to the classic TV game show, "Jeopardy!" - a show created by TV impresario Merv Griffin. Fresh off the success of their newly syndicated "Wheel of Fortune" (also created by Griffin), King World was eager to expand its burgeoning empire. When the show's original host, Art Fleming, declined to come out of retirement for the revival, KingWorld was forced to look elsewhere. Fortunately, Trebek was available and the rest is history. Since its initial premiere in 1984, the new revival of "Jeopardy!" was one of the highest rated programs in television history. After two decades, several format changes, and 5000+ episodes, Trebek stuck in for the long haul, far surpassing even his esteemed predecessor, the late Art Fleming, in both popularity and tenure.

As one of the few game show hosts willing to publicly poke fun at his own on-screen persona, Trebek became something of a pop culture icon for Generation X. Throughout the 1980's and well into the new millennium, Trebek made a number of guest appearances in both film and television - usually as himself. His most memorable appearances were in sitcoms, including "Cheers" (NBC, 1982-1993), "The Nanny" (CBS, 1993-99), "Seinfeld" (NBC, 1990-1998) and "Family Guy" (Fox, 1999- ). Trebek also popped up in the hit comedy "White Men Can't Jump" (1992).

Contrary to his pristine image, Trebek's public life did not go unmarred. In 2000, Trebek was slapped with a lawsuit for allegedly scuffling with an airline employee. According to the suit, Trebek was belligerent and confrontational toward the employee when she tried to enforce the airline's baggage limitation policy. Though she claimed to have been assaulted by the game show host, witness statements and video surveillance footage contradicted the employee's claim and the suit was eventually dismissed.

Alex Trebek announced that he was battling pancreatic cancer in 2019. Through his illness, Trebek kept hosting "Jeopardy!" through its 2020-21 season. Alex Trebek died at his home in Hollywood on November 8, 2020. He was 80.

Credits

Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time

Host
Show
2020

Alex Trebek's Game Changers

Actor
Show
2020

What Is Jeopardy!? Alex Trebek and America's Most Popular Quiz Show

Guest
Show
2020

A Day With Alex Trebek Behind the Scenes of "Jeopardy!"

Actor
Show
2019

Game Changers

Actor
Show
2018

Game Changers

Host
Show
2017

Live with Kelly and Ryan

Guest
Talk
2017

Big Fan

Guest
Game Show
2017

Who Is Arthur Chu?

Self
Movie
2017

To Tell the TruthStream

Guest
Game Show
2016

ChelseaStream

Guest
Talk
2016
41%

I Get That a Lot

Actor
Show
2015

Unusually Thicke

Guest Star
Show
2014

The Queen Latifah Show

Guest
Talk
2013

Live! With Kelly and Michael

Guest
Talk
2012

CBS This Morning

Guest
Show
2012

The 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards

Guest
Show
2011

Geo Bee 2011

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Show
2011

The Talk

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Talk
2010

Hot in ClevelandStream

Guest Star
Narrator
Series
2010

2010 National Geographic Bee

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2010

2009 National Geographic Bee

Host
Show
2009

Geo Bee 2009

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2009

Canada's Next Great Prime Minister

Host
Show
2009

RuPaul's Drag RaceStream

Guest
Series
2009

etalk

Guest
Show
2006

How I Met Your MotherStream

Guest Star
Alex Trebek
Series
2005
84%

The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Guest
Talk
2003

Jimmy Kimmel Live!Stream

Guest
Talk
2003

Live With Regis and Kelly

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Show
2001

Ladies Man

Guest Star
Series
1999
8%

Family Guy

Guest Voice
Himself
Show
1999

Family GuyStream

Guest Voice
Himself
Series
1999

The Weird Al ShowStream

Guest Star
Series
1997
73%

ArthurStream

Actor
Series
1996

ArthurStream

Guest Star
Series
1996

Access HollywoodStream

Guest
News
1996

The NannyStream

Guest Star
Series
1993

Dave's World

Guest Star
Series
1993

The X-FilesStream

Guest Star
Man in Black 2
Series
1993
74%

Mad About YouStream

Guest Star
Series
1992

RugratsStream

Guest Voice
Alan Quebec
Series
1991

Beverly Hills 90210Stream

Guest Star
Series
1990

To Tell the Truth

Host
Show
1990

The SimpsonsStream

Guest Voice
Himself
Series
1989
85%

BaywatchStream

Self
Series
1989

SeinfeldStream

Guest Star
Himself
Series
1989
89%

Classic Concentration

Host
Game Show
1987

The Golden GirlsStream

Guest Star
Himself
Series
1985

Jeopardy!Stream

Host
Game Show
1984

Mama's FamilyStream

Guest Star
Series
1983

CheersStream

Guest Star
Alex Trebek
Series
1982
87%

Battlestars

Host
Game Show
1981

CBS News Sunday MorningStream

Guest
News
1979

The Comedy ShopStream

Guest
Series
1978

Double DareStream

Host
Game Show
1976

Good Morning America

Guest
News
1975

High Rollers

Host
Game Show
1975

TattletalesStream

Guest
Game Show
1974

The Wizard of Odds

Host
Game Show
1973

Sesame StreetStream

Guest Star
Series
1969

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonStream

Guest
Talk
1962

News aboutAlex Trebek

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Alex Trebek on Jeopardy! in 1984

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Ken Jennings on Mayim Bialik, Sharing ‘Jeopardy!’ Hosting, and Special Bond with Alex Trebek

Alex Trebek in a Jeopardy! logo (L) and Vanna White and Pat Sajack in a Wheel of Fortune logo (R)

Pluto TV Launches ‘Jeopardy!’ & ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Channels With Classic Episodes

Alex Trebek on 'Jeopardy!'

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‘Jeopardy!’: Alex Trebek Suggested Laura Coates or Alex Faust To Replace Him as Show’s Host

Jeopardy Logo

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Alex Trebek’s Widow Jean Speaks to NBC News in First Interview Since His Death

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