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Alex Trebek is the face of Jeopardy! and as such he’s forever linked with the program. That’s why it’s not all that surprising to learn he’s influenced the categories on the game show’s famous quiz board. Keep reading to learn which Jeopardy! category the TV personality inspired the program’s writers to introduce to the game. 

Alex Trebek’s hosted ‘Jeopardy!’ for 36 years

2020 marks 36 years of Trebek manning the quiz board. He’s read countless categories and clues to eager contestants, unveiled daily doubles, and chatted with players in what’s become a trademark of the game show. 

Alex Trebek on the set of 'Jeopardy!' Season 28
Alex Trebek on the set of Jeopardy! Season 28 | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Trebek joined Jeopardy! as the host of the program in 1984, taking over from the show’s original host, Art Fleming. Up to that point, Trebek had worked on a number of game shows and other programs but Jeopardy! would make him a household name. 

He inspired ‘Jeopardy!’ writers to introduce Maladies category

Now, Trebek’s not only an iconic game show host but an author too. His memoir, The Answer Is …: Reflections On My Life, debuted on July 21, 2020. Thanks to its pages and The Washington Post, we know some behind-the-scenes details about Jeopardy! and Trebek.

Namely, that over the years Trebek’s endured some pretty nasty injuries. And that’s what inspired the writers at Jeopardy! To add the Maladies category to the game board. 

In 2018, Trebek underwent surgery for blood clots in his brain. He also had a heart attack in 2007, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and another one in 2012. He also snapped his Achilles’ tendon, which led to him wearing a cast for six weeks. 


Alex Trebek Says He’d ‘Be Fighting Like Mad Every Day to Overcome’ Cancer If He ‘Were 25 or 30’

But no malady has been as hard on him as pancreatic cancer, Trebek wrote in his book. He went public with the diagnosis in March 2019 in a video posted to the official Jeopardy! Twitter and other social media channels. He is now undergoing an experimental treatment. But Trebek admits he’s told his family if it stops working he’s going to give up treatment. 

Alex Trebek gives writers input on clues

Trebek doesn’t just host the show, he has a say when it comes to clues. The writers at Jeopardy! come up with clues and categories for a slate of games, which the host always goes over before a taping.

Trebek prefers clues a certain way, for the shortest part to come first. Understandably, after decades of hosting the show, he’s gotten very familiar with clues and categories.

He continues to host ‘Jeopardy!’

Despite the coronavirus pandemic putting a halt to traditional Jeopardy! tapings, Trebek continues to host the game show. He’s filmed videos for the program from home and, according to the Los Angeles Times, Trebek plans on being back in the studio. 

Just a few weeks after the release of his memoir, he intends to host Jeopardy! And tape new episodes. Although things will be a little different than he’s used to; contestants will practice social distancing measures and there will be partitions between them. Plus, there won’t be a studio audience for Trebek to chat with in between shows.

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