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15 Things You Didn’t Know About Alex Trebek

Updated August 24, 2020 12.6k views15 items

Alex Trebek has remained the host of one of the most popular game shows in television history for over 35 years - and these fun facts about him show why. The congenial Canadian with perfect pronunciation took the reins of the rebooted answer-question show Jeopardy! in 1984. More than 8,000 Trebek-hosted episodes later, Jeopardy! is still a hit in the Nielsen ratings.

The Ontario-born, naturalized American citizen has his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and won seven Outstanding Game Show Host Emmy Awards. He's fought two cardiac events and a brain blood clot; more recently, he's been contending with pancreatic cancer. Following the outpouring of public support when he announced his stage 4 diagnosis in 2019, Trebek decided to write a memoir called, appropriately, The Answer Is...

The memoir offers readers a slew of interesting facts about Alex Trebek. The game show host has also been more open about his life during interviews over the past couple of years. What Alex Trebek facts will surprise you the most? Read about who he was chasing when he ruptured his Achilles tendon in 2011. Why did he walk out without his pants to start a show in 2005? And, what happened when he accidentally ate several hash brownies at a party in the 1970s?

  • Photo: Double Dare / CBS

    Trebek Wanted To Be A Priest When He Was Growing Up

    When Trebek was growing up in Ontario, Canada, he dabbled with the idea that he would one day become a priest. However, just one visit to a monastery totally changed his mind.

    Trebek admitted that his love of talking was all the persuasion he needed to come up with a new dream job:

    I took a vow not only of poverty but of silence. And I'm not one to keep my big mouth shut. I enjoy talking.

  • He Wants Betty White To Take Over Hosting 'Jeopardy!'

    Trebek has been the host of Jeopardy! for over three decades. In the wake of his approaching 80th birthday and stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis, he has been thinking about who would replace him on the cerebral game show. In July 2020, he joked that he thinks his longtime pal Betty White should take over hosting duties. White is nearing her own milestone birthday as she approaches triple digits. 

    "I joke with the audience all the time and I say, 'Betty White,' because they want somebody younger, somebody funnier," Trebek quipped.

    For her part, White is a fan of both Trebek and Jeopardy! "First, it's such a good game," she said. "Second, I happen to have a huge crush on the host, Alex Trebek."

    Trebek has stated in the past that he isn't actually interested in giving an opinion on his replacement. "It's not a decision that would be up to me. And I would not make myself available to presenting an opinion,” Trebek said. "I would leave it up to the people in charge."

  • Photo: Jeopardy! / CBS Television Distribution

    Trebek Had No Idea He Had A Half-Brother Until He Started Hosting 'Jeopardy!'

    In his 2020 memoir, Trebek discusses the events surrounding his parents' divorce. After their separation, his mother moved from Canada, by herself, to Detroit. Trebek writes:

    My mother left Sudbury and moved to Detroit. When she and my father broke up, she took up with a gentleman in Sudbury, and he got her pregnant. He didn’t want to marry her, so she left town and had the baby [boy] and gave him up for adoption.

    "I didn’t know I had a half-brother until shortly after I started hosting Jeopardy!," the game show host added. "He and I have communicated over the years, but we are not close. Because of the way things happened, I had kind of a resentment for my mother. But we settled that before she died - long before she died."

  • Photo: Reach for the Top / CBUT

    The 'Jeopardy!' Host Can Speak Six Languages

    The game show host with impeccable pronunciation was raised in a bilingual household in Ontario, Canada. His father was a Ukrainian immigrant and his mother was French Canadian. Trebek learned both English and French as a child. 

    Trebek said that he can speak four additional languages. "I can get by in Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Swahili," said Trebek. "But don't expect much in Hawaiian and Welsh."