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George Alexander “Alex” Trebek is a game show host. Since 1984 he has been the host of the game show Jeopardy!, and prior to that, he hosted game shows such as Pitfall and High Rollers. He has appeared in numerous television series, usually as himself. A native of Canada, he became a naturalized United States citizen in 1998.
Trebek was born in Sudbury, Ontario, the son of Lucille, a Franco-Ontarian, and George Edward Trebek, a Ukrainian-Canadian immigrant. He was educated at a Jesuit school before graduating from Toronto’s Malvern Collegiate Institute in 1958, and later the University of Ottawa with a degree in philosophy. As a student at the University of New Hampshire, he was a member of the English Debating Society. Interested in a career in broadcast news, he began his broadcasting career working for the CBC as a newscaster and sportscaster. Trebek specialized in national news and covering a wide range of special events for the CBC’s radio and television divisions, including curling and horse racing.
Trebek once attended Collège Militaire Royal de Saint-Jean, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec, Canada, but for only six days. Trebek briefly talked about his military school experiences in a 2003 interview in Esquire magazine.
Trebek’s first hosting job was on a Canadian music program called Music Hop in 1963. In 1966, he hosted high school quiz show Reach for the Top. 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 and an accompanying syndicated season. In between stints as host of High Rollers, Trebek hosted the short-lived CBS game show, Double Dare, which turned out to be both the only CBS network show Trebek hosted and the first show he hosted for what was then Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions, as well as the second season of the syndicated series The $128,000 Question, which taped in Toronto. Since the second incarnation of High Rollers premiered while The $128,000 Question was still airing and taping episodes, Trebek became one of two hosts to emcee shows in both the United States and Canada, joining Jim Perry, who was hosting Definition and Headline Hunters in Canada and Card Sharks, which coincidentally premiered the same day as High Rollers in 1978, in the United States. Trebek’s Francophone side was put on display in 1978, in a special bilingual edition of Reach for the Top and its Radio-Canada equivalent Génies en herbe. In this show Trebek alternated smoothly between French and English throughout.