Alex Trebek Biography

Alex Trebek Biography on Monsters and Critics


"George Alexander Trebek" (born as "Giorgi Suka-Alex Trebek" on July 22, 1940) is an Emmy Award-winning Canadian-American television personality and game show host, best known as the host of the game show "Jeopardy!" since September 10, 1984. He has hosted numerous game/quiz shows and has appeared in television series, usually as himself. Though a native of Canada, he became a naturalized United States citizen in 1998.

Early life

Alex Trebek was born in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, to George Edward Trebek, a Ukrainian immigrant father and Lucille Lagacé, a Franco-Ontarian mother. He was educated by the Jesuits before graduating from Toronto's Malvern Collegiate Institute in 1958, and later the University of Ottawa with a degree in philosophy. Interested in a career in broadcast news, he began his broadcasting career working for the CBC as a newscaster. Specializing in national news and covering a wide range of special events for the CBC's radio and television divisions, Trebek earned a reputation as a broadcaster who maintained his poise and composure in the most difficult settings.

Trebek once attended the former Royal Roads Military College, in Victoria BC, Canada, but did not complete first year.

Rise in television

In 1964 he started hosting the high school quiz show "Reach for the Top". In 1970 he hosted 'Jackpot!'. In 1973, he moved to the United States and worked for NBC as host of a new game show, "The Wizard of Odds". A year later, Trebek hosted the popular Merrill Heatter-Bob Quigley game show "High Rollers", which had two incarnations on NBC (1974-76 and 1978-80). In 1982, Trebek was given the chance to host a pilot episode of "Starcade" (he was eventually replaced by Mark Richards). He also hosted game shows such as "Battlestars" and "Pitfall" before he was chosen to host the revived version of the game show "Jeopardy!" in 1984. (Art Fleming, the man whom Trebek was replacing, had retired from television.) He has been its host ever since, for the past 23 years. After three years of syndicated success with "Jeopardy", he was hired by Mark Goodson to host the NBC daytime game show "Classic Concentration", which he continued with, and which also proved a success.

In 1991, he became the only host in United States TV history to helm three "daily" national game shows at once — "Jeopardy!", "Classic Concentration" and "To Tell the Truth". He is one of four hosts to emcee a game show in the United States and a game show in Canada at the same time. The other three are Jim Perry (who hosted "Card Sharks" and "Sale of the Century" as well as several Canadian shows, including "Definition"), Geoff Edwards (who pulled off the feat in 1989 by hosting "Jackpot" and USA's "Chain Reaction", which taped in Canada), and Howie Mandel (who hosts both the U.S. and Canadian versions of "Deal or No Deal"). Trebek and Perry are the only two known hosts in the industry to host three different game shows at once in North American television.

Having been divorced from his first wife, Elaine Callei, he has been married to his second wife, Jean Currivan-Trebek, a real estate businesswoman and the mother of his two children, since April 30, 1990.

Trebek was also a celebrity guest at the World Wrestling Entertainment's annual event "WrestleMania VII", on March 24, 1991, where he served as a special guest announcer, interviewing wrestlers. Most memorable was when he interviewed Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and was scared away by Jake's snake, Damien.

Honors and awards

Having skillfully guided the series to years of unprecedented success, Alex Trebek has been personally honored with four Outstanding Game Show Host Emmy Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (located at 6501 Hollywood Boulevard, near those for Ann-Margret and Vincent Price).

Trebek is active with a number of educational organizations and charities, and donates a great deal of his free time to touring overseas with the USO. He hosts the annual "National Geographic Bee" in the U.S. and "The Great Canadian Geography Challenge" in Canada. He is on the boards of the National Geographic Society Education Foundation and the National Advisory Council for the Literary Volunteers of America. Active with the World Vision charitable organization, he has traveled to many Third World countries with World Vision projects, taping reports on the group's efforts on behalf of children around the world.

In March of 2006, it was announced that he would receive a star on Canada's Walk of Fame. He is the second game show host to be inducted (the first being Monty Hall). He is also one of the few inductees to have stars on both Canada's and Hollywood's walks.


Due to Trebek's long history on television, he is a familiar figure and therefore a popular parody target, which usually emphasize his stoic nature and his attempts at native pronunciation of foreign terms. Parodies of him include Eugene Levy portraying a game show host named 'Alex Trebel' on "Second City Television", Ike Barinholtz portraying him on "MadTV", and Adam West of "Family Guy" banishing Trebek 'back to the fifth dimension where he belongs' in the episode 'I Take Thee Quagmire.' Trebek has also played himself or a version of himself on "Pinky and the Brain" and "Rugrats", as well as being the subject of a practical joke in an episode of "TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes", finding himself the subject of a made-up personality cult. The most well known parody of Trebek is Will Ferrell's portrayal on "Saturday Night Live" parody sketches of Celebrity "Jeopardy!"; Trebek himself appeared in the final such sketch in 2002.

Thoroughbred horse racing

Trebek owns and manages a 700 acre (2.8 km²) ranch near Paso Robles in Creston, California formerly owned by Fred and Helen Sahadi, parents of trainer Jenine Sahadi. (... more) The property was known as Cardiff Stud Farm but Trebek renamed it Creston Farms where he breeds, trains and provides state-of-the-art care for Thoroughbred race horses. (... more)

Among Thoroughbreds raced by Trebek, his colt, Reba's Gold, was a stakes-winning grandson of Seattle Slew. (... more)

Until recently, Alex Trebek also owned a winery called Creston Vineyards.


Trebek became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1998. He now lives in Studio City, California with his wife (Jean) and two children (Matthew and Emily).

In an interview with a talk show host, Trebek complained that 'I had only been a citizen for two weeks when I received a summons to appear for jury duty!'

After tinting his graying hair for several years, Trebek stopped tinting his hair in the late 1980s after fellow game show host Bob Barker renounced hair-dye in 1987. Monty Hall would also follow suit.

Trebek hosted the 1996 & 1998 Pillsbury Bake-Off. In the 1996 Bake-Off (held in Dallas, Texas), Trebek witnessed history in the making, when Kurt Wait became the first man ever to win a Pillsbury Bake-Off. His creation was a fudge macadamia torte. Pillsbury raised the grand prize from $50,000 to $1,000,000 starting in 1996.

In late 2001, during "Jeopardy!"s 18th season, Trebek shaved his famous mustache that he had had for over 30 years. A screen saver from the official Web site gives a clue based on this fact.

In 1995, During Operation Joint Endeavour, Trebek was included in the USO tour giving troops mock "Jeopardy!" rounds, and allowing them to take the Pre-test for getting on the show.

Trebek is avid antique collector, including of what some consider the best examples of vintage American automobile hubcaps; a set of which are on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

On Friday, January 30, 2004, Trebek escaped major injury after falling asleep behind the wheel of his pickup truck while driving alone on a rural road in the Central Coast town of Templeton, California, returning from a family home in Lake Nacimiento. The truck sideswiped a string of mailboxes, flew 45 feet over an embankment, and came to rest against a utility pole in a ditch. Trebek was not cited for the accident and returned to work taping "Jeopardy!" the following Tuesday.

Trebek appeared on Celebrity Poker Showdown in 2005. He came in second place in his qualifying game, losing to Cheryl Hines.

In 1996, Trebek ran the Olympic Torch in Jacksonville, Florida, through a leg of its journey to Atlanta.

TV and film appearances

Shows hosted

"Music Hop" (1952–1972), Trebek hosted from 1963-1964

"Vacation Time" (1964), co-host

"Reach for the Top" (1966–1973), Quizmaster

"Strategy" - Host (1971)

"The Wizard of Odds" (1973)

"Double Dare" (1976–1977)

"High Rollers" - Host (NBC, 1974–1976, 1978–1980)

"The $128,000 Question" (1977–1978)

"Battlestars" (1981–1983)

"Pitfall" (1981–1982)

"Malcolm" (1983 pilot)

"Jeopardy!" (1984–present)

"Classic Concentration" (1987–1991)

"Super Jeopardy!" - Host (1990)

"To Tell the Truth" (1990–1991), host from February to May 1991

"Wheel of Fortune" - Host for April Fools' Day episode in 1997, also a substitute host in 1979

"Barris & Company" - Co-Host/Announcer

"Outside/Inside" - Host

"Pick and Choose" - Host

"Stars on Ice" - Host

"T.G.I.F." - Announcer

"Live from the Hollywood Bowl" - Host of annual live broadcasts.

"The Red Badge of Courage" / "Heart of Courage" - Canadian-produced show highlighting brave individuals

"The National Geographic Bee" - Host (1989-present)


"The X-Files": In the tongue-in-cheek X-Files episode 'Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'', Trebek appeared as himself in a character's flashback sequence. In that brief scene he appeared to lead a double life as a man in black in a government conspiracy to intimidate and ridicule UFO witnesses. Any UFO witness who claimed to have been intimidated from testifying by Alex Trebek, 'the game show host?!' would appear to be hallucinating.

"The Simpsons": In the Christmas episode Miracle on Evergreen Terrace, Bart burns down his family's Christmas tree and presents, and the whole town chips in to give them a worthwhile Christmas. The town soon finds out that Bart lied, and thinks that the family had supported this, so they demand their money back. The family had already spent all of the money on a new car, but it gets destroyed by the snow. To get the town's money back, Marge decides to go onto Jeopardy! but finishes well in the negative. Trebek meets up with Marge backstage after the filming and says to her, 'You were down fifty-two hundred dollars, Marge' and makes a hand-it-over motion. As Marge tries to defend herself, Alex interrupts 'I asked you before the game if you knew the rules and you said you did'. Marge runs away as two burly 'judges' seem to chase after Lisa and her. One of the judges remarks 'She ain't gettin' the home version.' He is later seen among the looters at the end with arms full of stolen goods.

"White Men Can't Jump": Alex appears as himself hosting Jeopardy in this basketball-themed film, when the character Gloria goes on the program.

"Family Guy": Alex appears as himself on an episode of Jeopardy! featuring Mayor Adam West. In the final Jeopardy round, West tricks Alex to say his name backwards (Kebert Xela) sending him into the fifth dimension, a parody of Superman enemy Mr. Mxyzptlk. On the June 15th, 2007 episode of Jeopardy, Jared Cohen, the last place contestant answered 'Kebert Xela' as his answer. Alex Trebek did not acknowledge the reference, yet people in the audience laughed. The contestant stated 'I heard this gets you back in another dimension.'

"Cheers": In the episode 'What is...Cliff Clavin?' Cliff Clavin appears on Jeopardy! and Trebek appears as host. Cliff's answer ('Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?'), is one of the most famous scenes in sitcom history.

"Arthur": In the episode 'Arthur and the Big Riddle' Alex Trebek did a voice appearance as 'Alex Lebeck', the host of a kids game show called 'Riddle Quest', both parodies to his name and his game show.

"Rugrats": In one episode, Didi appears on an episode of the fictional game show 'Super Stumpers.' Trebek provided the voice for the host of the show, 'Alan Quebec.'

"Universe of Energy": In the Universe of Energy ride at Walt Disney World's Epcot, Ellen DeGeneres' dream involves her appearing on Jeopardy! hosted by Alex Trebek

"S.W.A.T.": In the movie S.W.A.T., the main criminal is at one time arrested while laying on top of Alex Trebek's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

"Golden Girls": In one episode, Dorothy Zbornak auditioned to be on Jeopardy; Alex appears as himself.

"Mama's Family": Thelma 'Mama' Harper appears on Jeopardy and Trebek appears as Host.

"Charlie's Angels": Trebek appears as himself at the beginning of this movie, congratulating Cameron Diaz's character Natalie for being a 5-day Jeopardy champion.

"Pepper Ann": Alex cameos in the final episode of Pepper Ann as Lydia Pearson's husband.

Appeared as himself in the 1993 Robert Altman film "Short Cuts".

"Beverly Hills 90210": Alex appears as host, Brandon and Claire are both vying for a spot on college Jeopardy. Both have dreams of appearing on Jeopardy

CBC Radio 3": After a running gag with a CBC producer trying to find celebrities (including Queen Elizabeth II and Canadians William Shatner and Pamela Anderson) to appear on the Radio 3 podcast's 100th episode, the show closes with a greeting from former CBC host Trebek.

"The Peacemaker" : Alex appears on the Jeopardy show playing in the hotel where Dusan Gavrich is taking a shower. The category is Half Brothers, a reference to the fact that Gavrich and another terrorist, Vlado Mirich, are half brothers.

External links

(Alex Trebek) at the Notable Names Database

(Alex Trebek's Charity Work)


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about Alex Trebek.