Iconic TV quizmaster and devout Ottawa supporter, Alex Trebek dies at 80


Alex Trebek, the host of popular TV quiz show Jeopardy! lost his battle with pancreatic cancer yesterday at the age of 80.

To millions of Canadians Alex Trebek was almost like family, entering their homes during dinner time five nights a week. The quiz show legend hosted more episodes of any single television game show than anyone else in history.

Ottawa considered him one of their own — so much so that he was given the key to the City of Ottawa.

In March 2019, the University of Ottawa alumnus announced that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, vowing to “beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.”

The Ottawa Senators welcomed Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek to the Canadian Tire Centre On November 18, 2017 during the game versus the Coyotes. Sens lost 3-2 in OT.

Trebek said in his recently released autobiography THE ANSWER IS…, that hosting Canadian high school quiz show Reach for the Top helped to prepare him for hosting Jeopardy!

Trebek has been hosting Jeopardy! since Sept. 10, 1984, winning the Emmy for outstanding game show host six times. The show has won a total of 16 Emmy awards with Trebek as host.

While in town to receive the Officer of the Order of Canada honour, in November 2017, Trebek took in an Ottawa Senators game vs the Coyotes at Caandian Tire Centre.

“It is with great sadness that uOttawa acknowledges today the passing of Alex Trebek, who was both one of our most beloved alumni and one of our community’s most passionate supporters,” said University of Ottawa president, Jacques Frémont. “We mourn his loss and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family.”

Trebek’s contributions to our nation’s capital were so generous that he was awarded the keys to the city of Ottawa for “his philanthropy and activism, his unrelenting commitment to higher education, and his steadfast loyalty to the University of Ottawa.”

Canada’s favourite quiz show host was renowned for including questions and references to Canada during Jeopardy!. When Canadian contestants were on the show, he would always enjoy an inside joke or reference with them.

Trebek grew up in Sudbury in a bilngual household, before attending University of Ottawa in 1957, where he was also played basketball for the Gee-Gees. UOttawa president, Jacques Frémont said, “He graduated with a degree in Classical Philosophy, his major chosen, he later explained, because philosophy classes were held in the morning, allowing him to work in the afternoon and evening to earn his tuition.”

Frémont also said that Alex was a generous supporter of the University of Ottawa. In fact, his name figures prominently there with gifts including the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue, and his Innovation and Challenge Fund, along with his Distinguished Lecture Series and Leadership Award. He was also integral in the creation of the Alex Trebek Alumni Hall.

After University, Trebek moved to Toronto and began his broadcasting career with the CBC. He was also later known for his humanitarian work with World Vision.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted a heartfelt tribute statement, referring to Trebek as a Canadian icon. “We looked forward to his quick wit and wry jokes — and the questions about Canada he’d sneak into the show. Alex never hesitated to promote Canada on prime time TV, and to take the opportunity to stump even the brightest contestants with questions about Canadian culture, history, and geography,” said Trudeau.

“As the host of ‘Jeopardy!’ for almost four decades, he hosted more episodes of a single television game show than anyone else in history,” said a statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who also called Trebek an “icon” on Twitter.

Trebek also loved hockey. He endeared himself to hockey circles including Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs, who called Trebek “An incredible ambassador for our game and country.”

And most recently, last month Trebek created some added excitement at the NHL draft when he announced Tim Stuetzle as the first pick for our Ottawa Senators. NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman introduced Trebek as a University of Ottawa graduate.

Alex Trebek announces Tim Stuetzle as the first pick for the Ottawa Senators at this year’s NHL draft on October 6, 2020

“Alex was a true and much beloved Canadian icon, and a very special member of the Ottawa Senators family,” said Senators owner Eugene Melnyk in a statement posted to Twitter. “We will always be grateful to Alex for the special role he played in announcing the Senators’ first draft choice this year. For his legions of fans, Alex’s class and professionalism will endure as will his love for our game. Thank you, Alex, for your legacy. The Senators family and the entire Capital Region will miss you.” — Ottawa Senators

Trudeau’s statement really conveys what many Canadians are feeling today. “We will also never forget the night Alex showed up without his trademark moustache,” said Canada’s Prime Minister. “For every memorable moment on the show, millions more were made in living rooms around the world, as friends and families huddled around the TV, shouting at the screen, looking for the Daily Double.

Alex Trebek with Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette after receiving the Order of Canada in 2017.

“Alex was honoured with awards throughout his career, from Daytime Emmys and a Canadian Academy Icon Award to stars on Canada’s Walk of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was also named an Officer of the Order of Canada for his dedication to educational, environmental, and humanitarian causes. Alex also served as Honorary President of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to Alex’s family, friends, and his many, many fans,” said Trudeau.

Trebek was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 2017, along with The Tragically Hip and received a star on the Walk of Fame in both Toronto and Hollywood.

The Answer Is… You will truly be missed, Alex.

by Terry Lankstead

original version posted by totimes.ca

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