Fans of Jeopardy! are beginning 2021 on a nostalgic note, since the game show is airing its last episodes hosted by Alex Trebek between Jan. 4-Jan. 8. The legendary game show host passed away at 80 years old after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8, 2020, and taped his very last episode just 10 days before his death.
Alex’s last episode, airing this Friday, will conclude with “a special tribute to the life and work of the man who captained America’s Favorite Quiz Show with skill, style, and sophistication for 36+ years,” according to a statement from Sony Pictures Television, which produces Jeopardy! Before the TV tribute, however, we also want to look back at Alex’s long career in hosting which began in the ’60s.
"If we all pitch in just a little bit, we're gonna get there." pic.twitter.com/Ip6HZJi43Y
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) January 5, 2021
Alex — who was born in Ontario and attended Canada’s University of Ottawa — got his start in media and news at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 1961, before graduating from college with a philosophy degree. “I went to school in the mornings and worked at nights. I did everything, at one time replacing every announcer in every possible job,” Alex had said, according to CBC-TV publicity materials from 1964, according to CBC Radio Canada.
By 1963, Alex landed his first hosting job on a teen music/dance program called Music Hop that aired in Canada. You can see a clip of him interviewing legendary singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot below! The gig was the start of a successful trajectory in Alex’s TV and radio career, which was followed by other hosting gigs on Canadian programs like a high school quiz show called Reach for the Top, a game show called Strategy, and a morning drive radio show for CBC Toronto called I’m Here Til 9 in the years leading up to 1973.
In 1973, Alex made his big break on American television with a hosting role on an NBC game show called The Wizard of Odds. While the show only lasted until 1974, Alex never had a hard time securing a hosting role afterwards, which he did on American game shows like Double Dare, High Rollers, and Battlestars for the remainder of the late ’70s/early ’80s.
Fate came calling in 1984: Alex was asked to host the revival of Jeopardy!, since the host of the original show, Art Fleming, did not wish to return. It was a perfect match, and Alex went on to host more than 8,000 episodes by the time he passed away in Nov. 2020. The TV icon even still reported to his job for more than a year after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March of 2019.
Throughout his life, Alex also had two marriages. He married his first wife, broadcaster Elaine Callei Trebek, in 1974 but divorced in 1981. He then tied the knot with sound healer and Reiki master Jean Currivan Trebek in 1990, and they remained together up until Alex’s death at the end of 2020. They welcomed two children: Emily Trebek, 28, and Matthew Trebek, 31. You can see even more photos of Alex and the extraordinary life he lived in HollywoodLife‘s gallery above.