It’s a sad day at The 300s as we mourn the loss of Alex Trebek. He was a television legend, a first-ballot game show host hall of famer, and a prominent face on the Mount Rushmore of game show hosts. Trebek had been on U.S. television since 1973, and behind the Jeopardy! lectern since 1984. He fought pancreatic cancer over the last year and a half with courage, candor, and dignity. He passed away today at the age of 80.
It goes without saying that Alex Trebek was one of the greatest television game show hosts of all time. In 2014, Guinness World Records presented him with the world record for most episodes of a game show hosted, with 6,829 at the time.
Trebek was nominated for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host a record 31 times. His seven Emmys are second only to Bob Barker’s whopping 14. He is one of only two people ever nominated for this Emmy for two different game shows. The other was the undisputed Dean of Game Show Hosts, Bill Cullen. In 1990, he was the only person ever to be nominated for this award for two shows in one year (Jeopardy! and Classic Concentration). In 1991, he became the first person to host three American game shows simultaneously (To Tell the Truth, in addition to the aforementioned Jeopardy! and Classic Concentration).
As a game show fan, this is a very sad day. As a television viewer, it’s also sad for me to say goodbye to another person who has been on television every weekday of my life. With David Letterman’s retirement in 2015, and Bob Barker, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw all retiring in the 2000s, I can’t think of many people left on television who have been on television my whole life. Pat Sajak and Vanna White may be the only people left on that list for me.
While game show hosts aren’t members of our families, and we don’t root for them the way we root for athletes and our favorite sports teams, they do come into our homes on a regular basis and can make profound impacts on our lives, as recent champ Burt Thakur shared:
Yet another cruel side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was the sidelining of Alex Trebek during the last few months of his life. The man was itching to get back behind the lectern, but it simply wasn’t feasible in the early stages of the pandemic. That’s not to sound greedy, as if I needed even more from him, but I know it was something Trebek loved to do. Maybe, for thirty minutes at a time, it allowed him to focus on something other than his health.
And unfortunately, as is all too common with game show hosts, his final words on television may very well be “we’ll see you tomorrow.” It’s not often game show hosts get to hang ’em up on their own terms. Barker in 2007 was more the exception than the rule.
But today we pause to remember Alex Trebek, are reminded of the indelible impact he left not only on television but on this nation, and are thankful for all of his contributions. We love you, Alex.