Trebek’s Passing Marks End of Era for Game Shows

Samantha Nadler, Staff Writer

The world lost one of the most beloved pop culture icons on November 8, 2020. The social media pages for the iconic game show “Jeopardy!” announced longtime host Alex Trebek had passed away at the age of 80 after a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. His legacy of being an accomplished and inspirational game show host will live on for many years to come.

Alex was born July 22, 1940, in Sudbury, Ontario, to the Trebek family of Lucille and George, and he was always a curious young child. He attended the University of Ontario High School after attending Jesuit schools until the age of 12. After high school, Trebek went to the University of Ontario to study philosophy in 1957. However, he decided to pursue a journalism career after graduating from college. That quickly changed when Trebek decided to pursue a career as a game show host in 1966, hosting Canadian game shows such as “Reach to the Top” and “Jackpot.”

Trebek moved from Canada to California in 1973 to accomplish his goal of hosting game shows. His first American show, “The Wizard of Odds,” aired in 1973 but did not survive longer than a single season. He then hosted other short-lived game shows such as “High Rollers,” “The $128,000 Question,” and “Pitfall,” each airing in the United States as well as Trebek’s native Canada.

In 1984, a revival was announced for an old game show called “Jeopardy!,” a trivia game show in which contestants answer facts in the form of a question. “Wheel of Fortune” creator Merv Griffin encouraged Trebek to be the host of the revival of “Jeopardy!,” and Trebek agreed. He hosted the first episode of “Jeopardy!” September 10, 1984.

Until his death in 2020 Trebek hosted “Jeopardy!” for more than 8,200 episodes, the most for any game show in television history, a feat that would later be written in the Guiness Book of World Records. He only missed one episode of “Jeopardy!,” which was on April Fool’s Day of 1997, in which he and “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak switched places.

In 2019, Trebek announced that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was resilient, undergoing multiple rounds of chemotherapy and hosting “Jeopardy!” despite his medical troubles. He would then release his memoir, “The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life” in July 2020, only months before his passing.

Trebek’s final episode of “Jeopardy!” aired January 8, 2021, and was followed by weeks of episodes hosted by interim guest hosts, beginning with winningest champion in “Jeopardy!” history and fan-favorite Ken Jennings. While Trebek may no longer be alive hosting the show, his spirit will continue to live on in the entertainment industry and by many future game show hosts and viewers. He is still loved by many, especially his wife Jean and children Matthew, Emily and Nicky.

Said Jennings in his first episode as guest host: “No one will ever replace the great Alex Trebek. But we can honor him by playing the game he loved.” That is exactly what the people who work on “Jeopardy!” have done for the past few weeks: honor one of the greatest game show hosts who ever lived.