Alex Trebek, quintessential quizmaster as ‘Jeopardy!’ host for 3 a long time, dies at 80 – The Washington Submit

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Alex Trebek, who grew to become recognized to generations of tv viewers because the quintessential quizmaster, bringing an air of bookish politesse to the garish coli­seum of recreation reveals because the longtime host of “Jeopardy!,” died Nov. eight at his dwelling in Los Angeles. He was 80.

The official “Jeopardy!” Twitter account introduced the demise with out additional particulars.

Mr. Trebek had suffered a sequence of well being reversals in recent times, together with two coronary heart assaults and mind surgical procedure, and was recognized with pancreatic most cancers in 2019. He continued to host new episodes of his present till manufacturing was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, after which filmed socially distanced episodes that started airing Sept. 14.

[Fans share their favorite Alex Trebek and ‘Jeopardy!’ moments, from good-natured ribbing to emotional clips]

For greater than three a long time, Mr. Trebek was a each day presence in hundreds of thousands of households, incomes near-rabid loyalty for the mental problem of his present, through which questions had been introduced as solutions and solutions had been delivered within the type of questions. By the point of his demise, “Jeopardy!” was probably the most well-liked and longest-lasting applications of its sort in TV historical past.

Mr. Trebek, the self-made son of a resort chef, had no sequined co-presenter to match Vanna White on host Pat Sajak’s “Wheel of Fortune.” His present neither attracted nor allowed histrionics, no galloping, shrieking contestants reminiscent of these summoned to “Come on down!” on “The Price Is Right” with Bob Barker. Even the “Jeopardy!” theme track, probably the most recognizable jingles on tv, was restrained in its dainty dings.

There was no “hot seat” just like the chair for contestants on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” with Regis Philbin — a present that “Jeopardy!” purists disdained for its elementary subject material and inflated prize cash.

On “Jeopardy!” there have been solely questions and solutions — or moderately, solutions after which questions — leavened by the briefest of banter earlier than Mr. Trebek directed his three contestants again to enterprise.

He grew to become recognized, a reporter for the New Republic journal as soon as noticed, for his “crisp enunciation, acrobatic inflections [and] hammy dignity” as he primly — and with exact pronunciation — relayed clues in classes reminiscent of “European Cuisine,” “U.S. Geography,” “Ballet and Opera,” “Potent Potables” and “Potpourri.”

“The folding type of this cooling device became accepted in China during the Ming dynasty,” Mr. Trebek may declaim, as rivals raced to buzz in with the reply, “What is a fan?”

“Jeopardy!” was the creation of singer and talk-show host Merv Griffin, whose TV empire additionally included “Wheel of Fortune” and “Dance Fever.” His spouse, Julann Griffin, proposed the present’s conceit. If gamers offered questions as an alternative of solutions, she mentioned, then “Jeopardy!” can be protected from the high-profile dishonest scandals that plagued TV quiz reveals within the 1950s.

The Griffin brainchild aired on NBC from 1964 to 1975, then returned as “The All New Jeopardy!” from 1978 to 1979, each instances with the stately actor Artwork Fleming as host. Mr. Trebek took over when the present was revived in syndication in 1984, additionally serving throughout his first a number of seasons as producer.

Very like his program, Mr. Trebek indulged in few frills. He favored conservative fits. When he shaved his signature mustache in 2001 — “on a whim,” he mentioned — his viewership erupted in titillation.

Amanda Edwards

Getty Pictures

“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek in 2010 with celeb contestants, from left, Michael McKean, Isaac Mizrahi and Charles Shaughnessy.

Probably the most exuberant flourish in regards to the present may need been the exclamation mark within the title. Mr. Trebek, for his half, emitted few if any exclamations as he led contestants by the primary spherical of clues; then a second, higher-stakes spherical dubbed “Double Jeopardy!”; after which “Final Jeopardy!,” through which gamers might wager all or a few of their earnings on a single stumper.

“My job,” he informed the Related Press in 2012, “is to provide the atmosphere and assistance to the contestants to get them to perform at their very best. And if I’m successful doing that, I will be perceived as a nice guy and the audience will think of me as being a bit of a star. But not if I try to steal the limelight! The stars of ‘Jeopardy!’ are the material and the contestants.”

[‘We love you, Alex’: Watch Alex Trebek get emotional at ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s unexpected message]

(Maybe the present’s biggest stars had been Ken Jennings, who reigned over the grid for 74 reveals in 2004, claiming $2.5 million in winnings, and Watson, the IBM laptop that defeated Jennings and one other champion, Brad Rutter, in 2011.)

Followers who attended tapings of the present obtained a uncommon perception into Mr. Trebek’s dry humor when he held forth with them throughout business breaks, chopping up about how he didn’t “like spending time with stupid people,” which resulted in his having “very few friends.” He usually regaled the group with tales of his DIY home-improvement initiatives.

He mentioned his breakfast consisted of a Snickers and Weight-reduction plan Pepsi, or a Milky Manner and Weight-reduction plan Coke. And he was not at all times as staid as he may need appeared, as soon as tearing his Achilles’ tendon when he chased a burglar from his resort room in 2011.

However to most “Jeopardy!” viewers, Mr. Trebek was akin to a neighbor they noticed on daily basis with out turning into intimately acquainted. In a tribute to Mr. Trebek after his most cancers analysis was introduced, Jennings affectionately described him as “a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a Perry Ellis suit.” One of many few clues to his previous was his slight Canadian accent.

[Alex Trebek’s memoir, ‘The Answer Is . . .,’ is everything a ‘Jeopardy!’ fan could want]

George Alexander Trebek was born in Sudbury, Ontario, on July 22, 1940. His father was a Ukrainian immigrant, and his mom was French Canadian. In a memoir revealed in July, “The Answer Is . . . Reflections on My Life,” Mr. Trebek described a childhood marked by poverty and sickness, together with a painful type of rheumatism that he developed after falling right into a frozen lake at age 7.

Mr. Trebek mentioned that he thought of turning into a priest however didn’t take pleasure in his experimentation with a vow of silence. “I was a very good student, but leaned more toward show business than anything else because I had a way of entertaining the class,” he informed the Toronto Star. “I wasn’t the class clown, but always prominent — even when I was quiet.”

He mentioned he was almost expelled from boarding faculty after which dropped out of a navy school after three days as a result of he didn’t want to topic himself to a buzz lower.

Mr. Trebek started working on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. whereas learning philosophy on the College of Ottawa, the place he graduated in 1961. As a broadcaster for radio and tv, he delivered protection in English and French, reported on information, climate and sports activities, and hosted “Reach for the Top,” a well-liked teen quiz present.

In 1973, Mr. Trebek got here to america as host of “The Wizard of Odds,” a short-lived recreation present created by fellow Canadian Alan Thicke.

“It was canceled on a Friday, and I was disappointed, of course,” Mr. Trebek as soon as mentioned on “The Dan Patrick Show,” a sports activities speak program. “It was replaced the following Monday by a show called ‘High Rollers,’ which I also hosted. . . . After two and a half years, it was canceled, and it was replaced by another show which I hosted. So I have the either great honor or dubious honor of having replaced myself on three different occasions.”

Alan Greth


Recreation present host Alex Trebek, photographed in his Los Angeles dwelling, in 1988.

Mr. Trebek, who grew to become a U.S. citizen in 1998, additionally hosted reveals together with “Double Dare,” “The $128,000 Question” and “Battlestars.” He subbed for Chuck Woolery, Sajak’s predecessor on “Wheel of Fortune,” bringing him to the eye of Griffin. For a interval Mr. Trebek hosted “Classic Concentration” and “To Tell the Truth” whereas additionally presiding over “Jeopardy!,” the place he reportedly commanded $10 million a 12 months.

As “Jeopardy!” host, Mr. Trebek participated in nationwide contestant searches and shepherded the primary teen, senior and celeb tournaments. He additionally contributed clues, drawing from his information in such arcane fields as oil drilling and bullfighting. He personally reviewed all clues earlier than taping a present and claimed that he might reply about 65 % of them appropriately. If he judged one too tough, he requested writers to not use it.

“I’ll say, ‘Nobody’s going to get this,’ ” he informed the New York Instances in a 2020 interview. “And they usually take my suggestions, because I view myself as every man.”

By the point Mr. Trebek accomplished 30 years as host, “Jeopardy!” reached 25 million viewers every week. His Emmys included a lifetime achievement award, and, in 2013, he ranked No. eight in a Reader’s Digest ballot of essentially the most trusted folks in America. Jimmy Carter, the highest-ranking president on the checklist, arrived at No. 24.

A ubiquitous presence in popular culture, Mr. Trebek appeared within the “Got milk?” promoting marketing campaign, in movies together with “White Men Can’t Jump” (1992) and on tv reveals together with “The Simpsons” and “The X-Files.” In a memorable episode of “Cheers,” Mr. Trebek welcomed as a contestant the postal provider Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger), the sitcom’s most undesirable bachelor, in a spherical of “Jeopardy!” with classes together with “beer,” “mothers and sons” and “celibacy.”

Mr. Trebek was spoofed on “Second City Television,” the Canadian TV sketch present, and “Saturday Night Live,” with comic Will Ferrell, as his impersonator, barely containing his contempt for dimwitted contestants on “Celebrity Jeopardy!”

“I’ll take ‘Swords’ for $400,” Sean Connery, portrayed by Darrell Hammond, intoned in a Scottish accent when the class of clues was in reality “ ‘S’ Words.”

Mr. Trebek’s first marriage, to Elaine Callei, resulted in divorce. In 1990, he married Jean Currivan. A whole checklist of survivors was not instantly accessible.

Little modified about “Jeopardy!” because the years wore on for the present, for Mr. Trebek and for followers. Newfangled matters, reminiscent of twerking, had been sometimes launched. Over time, contestants revealed themselves to be extra accustomed to Dan Brown, writer of “The Da Vinci Code,” than with the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the New Republic famous. And Mr. Trebek was known as upon to study to rap to learn sure clues.

However primarily the present stayed “comfortable, like an old pair of shoes,” Mr. Trebek as soon as mentioned. In its fidelity, it grew to become all of the extra comforting for the legions of followers who turned to “Jeopardy!” for its promise of clear proper and unsuitable solutions in a world the place the matter of what’s true was more and more subjected to partisan debate.

“There’s a certain comfort that comes from knowing a fact,” Mr. Trebek informed the Instances in July. “The sun is up in the sky. There’s nothing you can say that’s going to change that. You can’t say, ‘The sun’s not up there, there’s no sky.’ There is reality, and there’s nothing wrong with accepting reality. It’s when you try to distort reality, to maneuver it into accommodating your particular point of view, your particular bigotry, your particular whatever — that’s when you run into problems.”

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