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Cameron Diaz

Alex Trebek Biography

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Birth Name: Alex Trebek
Born: 07/22/1940
Birth Place: Sudbury, Ontario, CA

Born Georgi Suri-Alex Trebek in 1940 to Ukranian and French parentage, Trebek attended the University of Ottawa where he earned a degree in philosophy. By his senior year, however, Trebek found his philosophical interests waning. Surprisingly, with little to no work available for philosophy majors even then, Trebek made the wise choice to pursue a career in the only slightly more marketable field of broadcasting.

Landing his first professional gig straight out of college in 1958, Trebek started out as a fill-in reporter and newscaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Earning a reputation for his cool on-air demeanor, Trebek soon became a staple of both CBC's TV and radio divisions. By the mid 1960's, however, Trebek again became restless. In 1965, Trebek made a bold decision to leave newscasting behind entirely to try his hand in a different medium - the higher-profile -- albeit, far less respectable - arena of game shows. Having finally shed much of the taint from the notorious "quiz show corruption" scandals of the late 1950's, the genre was starting to resurge in popularity in both Canada and the United States. Ignoring the criticism of his erstwhile peers, (many of whom dismissed game show hosting to being little more than "electronic carnival barking"), Trebek embarked on his new career and never looked back.

Bringing along his trademark poise and dignity to the proceedings, Trebek's first hosting gig was for a Canadian quiz program called "Reach for the Top" (CBC) , which pitted local area high school students against one another for scholarships and prize money. From there, Trebek graduated to a higher-rent gig in 1970 - the nationally televised game show, "Jackpot" in 1970. Still, it was not until 1973, when Trebek was brought aboard as host of the new American game show, "The Wizard of Odds" (NBC, 1973-74) that his career really began taking off. A fairly unmemorable question-and answer style competition, "The Wizard of Odds" was cancelled after just one season. However, in 1974, the mustachioed Canadian quickly rebounded by signing on as the host of the popular new Heatter-Quigley game show, "High Rollers" (NBC, 1974-1980).

Over the next 10 years, Trebek remained consistently employed, moving from one B-list game show to another, including "The $128,000 Question" (1977-78) and "Pitfall" (CBC, 1981-1982). Despite maintaining a high profile during this period, Trebek was still far from being a household name.

All of that changed, however, in 1983 - the year Roger and Michael King, co-chairmen of the television distribution giant, KingWorld Entertainment, bought the syndication rights to the classic TV game show, "Jeopardy!" - a show created by TV impresario Merv Griffin. Fresh off the success of their newly syndicated "Wheel of Fortune" (also created by Griffin), King World was eager to expand its burgeoning empire. When the show's original host, Art Fleming, declined to come out of retirement for the revival, KingWorld was forced to look elsewhere. Fortunately, Trebek was available and the rest is history. Since its initial premiere in 1984, the new revival of "Jeopardy!" was one of the highest rated programs in television history. After two decades, several format changes, and 5000+ episodes, Trebek stuck in for the long haul, far surpassing even his esteemed predecessor, the late Art Fleming, in both popularity and tenure.

As one of the few game show hosts willing to publicly poke fun at his own on-screen persona, Trebek became something of a pop culture icon for Generation X. Throughout the 1980's and well into the new millennium, Trebek made a number of guest appearances in both film and television - usually as himself. His most memorable appearances were in sitcoms, including "Cheers" (NBC, 1982-1993), "The Nanny" (CBS, 1993-99), "Seinfeld" (NBC, 1990-1998) and "Family Guy" (Fox, 1999- ). Trebek also popped up in the hit comedy "White Men Can't Jump" (1992).

Contrary to his pristine image, Trebek's public life did not go unmarred. In 2000, Trebek was slapped with a lawsuit for allegedly scuffling with an airline employee. According to the suit, Trebek was belligerent and confrontational toward the employee when she tried to enforce the airline's baggage limitation policy. Though she claimed to have been assaulted by the game show host, witness statements and video surveillance footage contradicted the employee's claim and the suit was eventually dismissed.