Remembering Alex Trebek

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Yahoo! Entertainment reflects on the life of Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, who died in November last year after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Trebek, who died at the age of 80, was revered in the United States and the worldover for his role over 35 years as the host of Jeopardy!. He was surrounded by his loved ones when he died.

“Hanging in”, was Trebek’s stoic assessment of how he was doing after receiving his diagnosis. He said he would fight on till the end, but whatever the outcome, he was unafraid of dying. He worked to always look on the bright side of life, right through his battle with cancer.

Trebek won seven Emmys during a run in which he hosted over 7,000 episodes of Jeopardy!. He was such an icon that when he announced his return for season 37 of the game show, fans were over the moon with delight. His last Emmy was in 2020, proving the enduring quality of his work.

Trebek graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in philosophy, before turning to journalism when he got a job with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in the 1960s. Trebek, a native speaker of both English and French, won fans over with his charm, as he discussed a wide range of topics, such as music and sports. It was at the CBC that he commenced his career as a quiz and game show host.

Trebek left for Hollywood in 1973, landing his first gig as host of The Wizard of Odds, a game show which lasted for only one year on NBC. He quickly followed this up with hosting gigs on High Rollers, The $128,000 Question, and Battlestars and Pitfall. Yet, it was only in 1984 that the mustached Trebek was chosen to host a revival of Jeopardy!, a role which changed his life forever and turned him into one of the most recognizable faces on television. Jeopardy! had already had two prior incarnations, the first being from 1964 to 1975 and the second from 1978 to 1979. Being the host of the show was not easy, it took a certain skill, an art, if you like, which he perfected over the decades.

One of the most important things about being the host of the show was that he had to put his ego to the side and allow the contestants to shine. He remarked that the reason he always referred to himself as the host of the show rather than the star, was because he wanted the stars to be the contestants.

Trebek loved to surprise people and sometimes, this meant doing things which defied even how people saw him. For instance, for the 18th season he buzzed off his signature mustache.

When he returned for the 37th season, he did so even though he was in enormous pain. He was already undergoing chemotherapy once a week. To determine the efficacy of the treatment, doctors will often have a patient use an Express MRI before, during and after chemo, to see if there are any substantial changes in the number of cancer cells in the body. Through these ordeals, Trebek kept a positive mindset, and showed a blue-collar, get-up-and-go, against-all-odds spirits that has left his colleagues and fans in awe of that great icon.

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