His most famous role was as the host of the syndicated game show “Jeopardy!” From 1984 till his death in November 2020, he presented the show. Trebek died of pancreatic cancer on November 8, 2020, at the age of 80, after a year-long fight.
On July 22, 1940, George Alexander Trebek was born in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. His father, George Edward Trebek, was a Ukrainian immigrant, and his mother, Lucille Lagacé, was a Franco-Ontarian, therefore he grew up speaking both English and French. He went to Sudbury High School (now Sudbury Secondary School) and went on to the University of Ottawa to further his education.
Beginnings of a Career
He earned a philosophy degree from the University of Ottawa in 1961. He began his television career the following year, working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). He began by filling in for broadcasters, then progressed to reading the national news and covering a variety of special events for the CBC’s television and radio divisions.
Career as a Host
Trebek’s first hosting assignment was in 1963 for the Canadian music show “Music Hop.” In Canada, he also hosted the high school quiz show “Reach for the Top” (1966), was a CBC classical music host from 1967 to 1970, and hosted the weekly afternoon game show Strategy (1969). After getting a job presenting NBC’s new game show “The Wizard of Odds,” he relocated to the United States in 1974.
He hosted NBC’s “High Rollers,” the second season of “The $128,000 Question,” and the first and only CBS game show he worked on, “Double Dare,” in the 1970s and 1980s. Trebek also hosted “Battlestars” on NBC from October 1981 to April 1982, a six-month series. Because the production company Catalena Productions went bankrupt, he did not get a paycheck for his services as the host of the show “Pitfall.”
Trebek taped two episodes for a resurrection of the game show “Jeopardy!” with the help of game show media magnate Merv Griffin, and the show was picked up. He started presenting it in 1984, and it is his most well-known role in his long career. After the original “Jeopardy!” host Art Fleming declined the project owing to artistic issues, he secured the job as host.
Since then, the revival of “Jeopardy!” has been a huge hit, garnering a record-breaking 33 Daytime Emmy Awards. Trebek set the Guinness World Mark for most gameshow episodes hosted by the same host when he hit 6,829 episodes with “Jeopardy!” in 2014, surpassing Bob Barker’s record from “The Price is Right.”
For his efforts on the shows “To Tell the Truth,” “Classic Concentration,” and “Jeopardy!” in 1991, he created broadcast history by becoming the first person to host three American game shows at the same time.
Salary of Alex Trebek from Jeopardy
Trebek was paid $18 million per year on “Jeopardy!” He shot five episodes every day on the show, which was taped 46 days a year. To put it another way, he made about $391,000 per tape day, or $78,000 per actual program.
In comparison, Vanna White’s income is $208,333 every work day, while Pat Sajak’s salary is $312,500 per work day on another successful long-running game show, Wheel of Fortune. Pat gets $52,083 each show while Vanna earns $34,722 per show, when broken down by show.
Trebek appeared on a wide range of shows as a panelist or player in addition to his hosting positions. In 1980, he competed in a week-long round robin competition on NBC’s “Card Sharks” alongside numerous other game show hosts, including Allen Ludden, Bill Cullen, Wink Martindale, Jack Clark, and Gene Rayburn, for charity. In the end, he was victorious in the event. In 1975, he starred on NBC’s “The Magnificent Marable Machine,” and in 1978, he appeared on “To Say the Least.” Trebek appeared on “Celebrity Bowling” in 1976 with Jim McKrell, and the two won their match against Dick Gautier and Scatman Crothers.
In 1974, Trebek married businesswoman Elaine Callei. They divorced in 1981 and never had children together. In 1990, he married real estate project manager Jean Currivan, with whom he has two daughters. In 1998, he was granted naturalization as a US citizen.
He was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer in March 2019 and received intensive therapy. He had been cancer-free for one year as of March 2020. Unfortunately, Alex died of cancer on November 8, 2020, at the age of 80, much to the surprise of the world.
Trebek revealed in a 2014 podcast interview with The Nerdist that he donates a considerable amount of his annual income to charity. In 1998, he gave the Santa Monica Conservancy 74 acres of land in the Hollywood Hills. The donation increased the size of the public parkland by a factor of two. Hikers and cyclists have already made extensive use of the trails. He gave $5 million to the University of Ottawa’s Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue in 2016. He has given the school, which is his alma mater, a total of $7.5 million.
Purchasing Real Estate
Trebek lived in a 10,000-square-foot house in Studio City, California, that he bought for $2.15 million in 1991. Alex’s widow placed this home for sale in January 2022 for just under $7 million.
He spent $4.1 million in the mid-1990s to purchase a 724-acre horse ranch in Creston, California. In 2005, he sold the ranch for $10 million. His 30-acre lake home in Nacimiento, California, was advertised for $1.4 million in 2019. He sold this house for $1.3 million in just a few months.
Alex Trebek was an American game show host who was born in Canada and had a net worth of $75 million when he died.