Alex Trebek is bigger than Jeopardy! at this point. In the hierarchy of game show hosts, it’s him and then Bob Barker and Pat Sajak a little further down. Maybe one day there will be room at that table of game show kings for Steve Harvey, but his mustache is going to need to put in at least another 20 years. Many of us only know Alex Trebek from his hosting spot on Jeopardy!, but he had been involved with nearly a dozen other game shows before he took over Jeopardy!’s hosting duties from Art Fleming in 1984.
Trebek turns 74 today, and from his recent series of interviews, it doesn’t look like he plans on stopping anytime soon. Here are ten facts that back up his status as a game show legend.
1.He nearly hosted Jeopardy! without wearing pants. Three of Jeopardy!’s contestants had planned to do the show without pants to relieve some stress — or at least that’s what the producers told Trebek. Trebek showed his lighter side walking onto the show’s set sans pants, even though none of the contestants had the guts to go through with the stunt.
2. He chased a thief down after he found her rummaging through his stuff. Three years ago, Alex Trebek was staying at a San Francisco hotel when he woke up to find a woman in his hotel room stealing his belongings. Trebek said that he put his underwear on and chased her down the hallway, snapping his Achilles tendon in the process. So not only did the world learn that one cannot steal from Alex Trebek and simply stroll away from the crime, but also that Trebek sleeps in the buff.
3. He prefers Eugene Levy’s impression of him over Will Ferrell’s. The best-known impression of Trebek is Ferrell’s punching bag to Sean Connery on SNL, but it’s not Trebek’s favorite. Trebek actually prefers the old SCTV parody done by Eugene Levy.
4. Alan Thicke gave Trebek his first job in America. To today’s youth he’s just a Wikipedia blip as the father of Robin Thicke, but to my generation he will always be Mike Seaver’s father — he also happens to be the guy who gave Trebek his American break. Alan Thicke was a producer in the 1970s on the game show Wizard of Odds and what can only be chalked up to as one Canadian helping another Canadian steal jobs from American game show hosts, recommended Trebek for the hosting gig.
5. You should be jealous of his work schedule. Trebek has it made in terms of his salary vs. work schedule. He films Jeopardy! just two days a week, coming in at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the production meeting, then knocking out a few trivia questions, and wrapping the day by 6. At the end of the day he’s raking in $10 million a year for roughly 24 hours of work a week.
6. Trebek didn’t give his Jeopardy! producers any notice about losing the ‘stache. Trebek shaved his mustache back in 2001 and did so in the middle of the day without telling anyone on the show’s staff. The clean-shaven looked shocked everyone, which Trebek thought was blown entirely out of proportion.
“And it got so much press, I couldn’t believe it. The wars with Iraq or whatever at that time, and people are all in a stew over my moustache. I have one response: Get a life.”
7. He takes time to chat with the crowd during commercial breaks. It’s refreshing to know that after hosting thousands of episodes, Alex Trebek still takes time during the commercial breaks to take questions from the crowd. Even when that means sharing what he had for dinner time after time. Via New Republic:
“They just want to know if I am in reality the way they perceive me on television. Is he a nice guy or not? Is he aloof or not?” Trebek feels loyalty to his fans — “I don’t have to talk to the audience,” he notes, correctly. But the questions tend to be the same, show after show, and are less than probing. What did he have for dinner the night before? someone wanted to know. He had the halibut, “just for the hell of it.”
8. He’s a Guinness World Record holder. You’ve truly reached a certain pinnacle of excellence when you can say that you’re in the Guinness Book of World Records. (I have no doubt that guy with the freakishly long fingernails is an incredibly proud individual.) Trebek broke Bob Barker’s record for having hosted the most episodes of a game show back in June, clocking in 6,829 episodes.
9. He’s all about a breakfast of champions: candy bars and soda. You don’t get to be a world record-holding game show host by playing it safe — well, maybe it’s possible, but Alex Trebek didn’t. Trebek seems to approach his nutrition with a true rebellious “IDGAF” attitude, refusing to drop his candy bar and soda diet even after two heart attacks.
“My breakfast of champions for years was a Snickers and a Diet Pepsi, and this past year I ran into a nutritionist who said, ‘Oh, Alex that’s terrible! You’ve got to be eating better than that at the start of the day.’ So I changed. I stopped eating Snickers and Diet Pepsi and I replaced them with Milky Ways and Diet Cokes, so you’re not going to catch me eating properly in the mornings.”
10. And in case you were unaware, Trebek likes his booze. We noted back in May that when it comes to game show hosts and their vices, Trebek does not turn down a drink. The guy has been doing the same job for 30 freakin’ years, he’s earned the right to host the occasional episode with a solid buzz.