Alex Trebek Owes His ‘Jeopardy!’ Success to 1 Man: He’s ‘The Reason I Got My Big Break’

Alex Trebek spent 36 years hosting Jeopardy! In that time, he won a series of Emmys (including a Lifetime Achievement Award), tapped more than 7,000 episodes of the love game show, and became a household name.

After a year-and-a-half battle with pancreatic cancer, Trebek died on Sunday, November 8. He was 80 years old. His fans have been looking back on his life and legacy ever since. And some may not be aware that the Canadian-born star has credited another famous face for helping launch his stormy career.

Alex Trebek on 'Jeopardy!'  The biggest competition of all time
Alex Trebek on ‘Jeopardy!’ The biggest tournament of all time | Eric McCandless / ABC through Getty Images

Alex Trebek began hosting game shows in the 1960s

Trebek had his first job in television at the Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). He took a part-time job at the company to help pay for his tuition at the University of Ottawa. Upon graduating in 1961, Trebek was offered a full-time job at CBC as a nominee for radio and television broadcasts.

After moving to Toronto, he got his first hospitality jobs. He has directed two performances – one called a teenage music series Music hop, the other is a game showcase for high performances called Reach for the top.

Next on Trebek’s bucket list was a career in the United States, and another Canadian-born star helped him get there.

Alex Trebek hosts 'High Rollers'
Alex Trebek hosts ‘High Rollers’ | Ron Tom / NBCU / NBCUniversal Photo Bank via Getty Images via Getty Images

Alex Trebek said Alan Thicke gave him a great rest

In an interview with Access to Hollywood in 2016, Trebek revealed that the late Alan Thicke is to be thanked for his American career. He and the Growing pains the star (who died in December 2016) was a longtime friend, and it all started when Thicke appeared as the musical guest on Trebek’s old talking show.

“Alan Thicke is the reason I got my big break here in the United States,” he told the uprising. “In the early 1970s, I worked as a staff journalist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto, Canada. And one of my jobs was to host a so-called daytime talk mix show Evening. And then Alan and his singing partner, Bryan Russell, appeared as guests on that show several times. ”

He continued:

“In early 1973, I received a phone call one Wednesday afternoon from Alan Thicke. And he said, ‘My writing partner and I have created a new game show for NBC called Odds Wizard. We have missed all available guests. We can’t settle on anyone. Would you consider interviews as a guest of that program? ‘I said,’ Yes. ‘ So the next day, he flew to Toronto. That night we went to his parents’ home, he explained the game to me. The next day, I went back to his parents ’house. We ran with his parents and neighbors, and the next day, Saturday, I went to New York City, I went to the New York Hilton Hotel. He worked with Marty Pasetta, the late director, and used the game. We did a run in front of an audience. I immediately went back to Toronto, and at 11:30 that night, Alan called me and said, ‘You got the job. We want you to come to California to do the pilot. ‘”

Trebek went on to host several other game shows after Odds Wizard: CBS’s Double double, The $ 128,000 question, and NBC’s The New High Rollers.

Jeopardy! has already started years before Trebek became a host. It was first broadcast in 1964 hosted by Merv Griffin and ran for 11 years before being canceled. It was restored in 1978 with little success. In 1984, Trebek became a host, and the rest of television history. And we have Alan Thicke to thank.

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