Alex Trebek Keeps a Weird Momento of His Early Career in His Home

The appreciation of Alex Trebek in our pop culture continues, despite hearing more concerning news about the progression of his Stage IV pancreatic cancer. After being a radio/TV host for almost 60 years, Trebek obviously has a lot of stories to tell that even his fans may not know about.

Sure enough, an interesting aspect to his life was uncovered recently. Many legends often keep mementos of their pasts hanging on their walls to remind them of a certain time in their life. Trebek is no different, though his framed item is a little different from the ordinary.

On the other hand, it’s a good reminder for him about how fortunate he was to land the hosting role of Jeopardy in 1984. Before that, he had a hard time finding long-term employment in the U.S. game show field.

Trebek didn’t start hosting U.S. game shows until 1973

Alex Trebek speaks onstage
Alex Trebek | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

For 12 years, Trebek lived solely in his native Canada where he worked for the CBC in various capacities. He hosted sports and music programs on radio, then transitioned to hosting game shows for the same network. During the mid-’60s, he even hosted an American Bandstand type of show called Music Hop.

Not many know he also hosted a game show on the CBC that was a little like Jeopardy. The format wasn’t the same, yet it was an academic quiz competition with slightly more intellectual questions.

Called Reach for the Top, Trebek hosted this from 1966-73 before he moved to the U.S. to broaden his horizons.

Little did he know, hosting Reach for the Top set him up perfectly for Jeopardy years down the line. In the meantime, he had to host more simple-minded game shows airing on U.S. network TV during the 1970s and early ’80s.

At one point in 1981, he went back to hosting another game show in Canada, much to his chagrin.

The irony of working for a game show called ‘Pitfall’

Trebek went back to Canada periodically to take on hosting duties. One game show that aired in both Canada and America was called Pitfall, an all too fateful title.

The production company creating this oddball game suddenly went bankrupt in 1982. When attempting to pay Trebek $49,200, the host found out the check bounced.

According to Trebek, this was not a good time in his life being 42 without steady job. Plus, his father had just passed away, leaving him at a low point. Even though that check bounced, he managed to hang on and find other work. Not until 1984 did Jeopardy save his career.

Afterward, Trebek hung on to the bounced check and decided to frame it. To this day, he has it hanging on his wall at home as a reminder bad times in life can happen, but don’t last forever.

Most people would think he’d have a memento from ‘Jeopardy’

Now 36 years into hosting Jeopardy, most would think Alex Trebek’s wall items would contain memories of hosting arguably the greatest game show ever produced. If he ever decides to retire, his most prized framed picture might be something related to the show in the end.

One thing for sure is fans can’t imagine the show without him, hence his journey with cancer becoming all the more of a question mark. If receiving a bounced check from a 1980s game show was a reminder to him to never take anything for granted, hopefully the next prized memento for Trebek will be something from loyal watchers of Jeopardy.

Part of this should include those who’ve shown him support through his cancer battle as proof mental reinforcement (through pictures or not) are what keep cancer sufferers alive.