Last week, on November 8th, 2020, we said goodbye to Alex Trebek, the legendary host of Jeopardy! After a battle with cancer, he passed away at the age of 80. For many of us, he has been part of the beating heart of the acclaimed game show all of our lives. This is certainly the end of an era.
When he was your host, it didn’t matter where you’re from or what you look like. What mattered is what you know or did not know. Trebek, as he stood behind the podium wearing a crisp suit night after night, was the guy with the facts. He was the face of a public oasis of truth, knowledge, and fun. Now, we’ll dive into the past and the legacy of the man with all the answers.
What Are Early Years?
Alex Trebek comes from pretty modest beginnings: his father, a Ukrainian immigrant to Canada, was a chef at a hotel. He grew up in a French-English bilingual home in Ontario and went to college in Ottawa and studied philosophy. He always had his eye on a career in broadcasting.
Before he even finished college he started working at the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Every time an announcer would be absent, Trebek was right there, delighted to fill in. He was eventually given a full-time broadcasting position. He applied to be the host for Hockey Night in Canada, but due to his huge mustache, he was turned down.
In 1973, Trebek packed his bags and left Canada to move to the U.S., where he got a job on the cleverly named The Wizard of Odds gameshow. It seemed like Trebek had found his calling as a naturally peppy and charismatic gameshow host. In the ensuing years, he played on several more shows.
Jeopardy! had been floating around since 1964, when it first began running. It was then was taken off the air for a few years, only to run again and be taken off again. Then, in 1984 Trebek came on board and the show started to become what it is today. With Trebek at its vanguard, Jeopardy! has been running for 36 years and 8,000 episodes.
What Is Legacy?
Without a hint of doubt, Alex Trebek is a foundational pillar in the history of game shows. He has held the Guinness Record for most episodes hosted by the same presenter. He has seven Emmys for Outstanding Game Show Host and one of the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame also bears his name. Seriously, his list of prestigious accolades and achievements is super extensive.
Beneath all of his awards, standing at the foundation of his legacy is a profound and sometimes overlooked message. “Alex was so much more than a host,” wrote James Holzhauer, the famed Jeopardy! winner. “He was an impartial arbiter of truth and facts in a world that needs exactly that.” Alex Trebek was able to put everyone on equal ground, give every participant an equal opportunity, and help the world flourish with knowledge.