Best Known For
Alex Trebek has served as the host of Jeopardy!, one of the most popular game shows in television history, for which he has won several Daytime Emmy Awards.
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Alex Trebek was born on July 22, 1940, in Sudbury, Canada, a large city in northern Ontario. His mother, Lucille Trebek, was a French-Canadian woman with some First Nations ancestry, and his father, George Trebek, was a Russian immigrant who worked as a chef at a local hotel. "My dad drank pretty heavily, and he never missed a day of work in his life," Trebek recalls. Trebek describes his father as a hoarder of knickknacks that had a way of proving useful years later. "His basic philosophy was don't throw out something because someday it'll come in handy," he says about his father. A bright and curious child from a very young age, Trebek attended Jesuit schools until the age of 12, when he decided to leave Sudbury to attend the University of Ottawa High School in the Canadian capital. "Sudbury is a more distant memory," he now admits, "because I was born there and raised there, but I left to go away to boarding school."
After graduating from high school in 1957, Trebek continued on to the University of Ottawa to study philosophy. Upon graduation in 1961, Trebek decided to ditch philosophy and pursue a career in journalism. He landed his first job as a fill-in reporter and newscaster with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC TV. Although he quickly earned a reputation for his cool on-screen demeanor, in 1966 he decided to shift his focus from journalism to the more lucrative field of hosting game shows. He became the host of the Canadian quiz show Reach for the Top, which pitted teams of high school students against each other in academic competitions. In 1970, Trebek graduated to hosting the more prominent, nationally televised Canadian game show Jackpot.
Then, in 1973, Trebek decided to leave his native country in favor of the place where the biggest television stars are made: Hollywood. His first American television gig was as host of the short-lived 1973 NBC game show The Wizard of Odds. The show only lasted one season; in 1974 Trebek signed on to host its replacement, another game show called High Rollers. Trebek hosted the show through a pair of two-year runs on NBC, from 1974-76 and again from 1978-80. At the same time, he also expanded his repertoire to host other game shows such as The $128,000 Question (1978-80) and Pitfall (1981-82), which aired in both the United States and Canada.
In 1984, ABC tapped Trebek to host a new game show by the famous creator of Wheel of Fortune, Merv Griffin. The trivia show, called Jeopardy!, employed a unique format in which clues were offered in the form of answers and contestants answered in the form of questions.
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