‘Jeopardy!’: Alex Trebek Took Up Cursing Early in His Career – ‘I Needed a Vice’

Way before Alex Trebek was the iconic host of Jeopardy!, he started out his career in his native Canada.

In his memoir, The Answer Is…, the television personality opened up about finding his way in a new career in a new field. He eventually found success as we are well aware, but it wasn’t without its growing pains.

Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek | Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic

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Trebek originally didn’t want to write a memoir

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Trebek has stated that he wrote his memoir, The Answer Is…, after years of declining to do so. He shared that his reason for finally getting down to putting his life on paper was to thank his fans for their concern and kindness to him while he dealt with advanced pancreatic cancer.

The father of three explained that he “quickly discovered there are millions of people out there who seem to care and who feel I have played an important part in their lives. . . There is a very large glass display case inside the Jeopardy! studio that is filled with [cards and letters from fans]. It’s a humbling experience. . . So I started to come around to this idea of a book.”

Alex Trebek doesn’t drink for this reason

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In his book, the television host, who just turned 80 in July 2020, revealed that he doesn’t drink or smoke. In particular, as it relates to alcohol, he opened up that he avoids drinking for a specific reason.

“Having seen the way my father drank,” he wrote, “it never interested me. Occasionally I’ll have a glass of chardonnay, but my drink of choice is low-fat milk. Quite often, I’ll get up in the middle of the night, go to the refrigerator, and get a full glass of 1 percent milk. It’s become a habit. I drink low-fat milk and chardonnay – but not together.”

So Trebek took up cursing

In lieu of drinking or any other vices, Trebek writes that, as a young man, he decided to start cursing in an effort to be cool and fit in. It’s interesting to note that the Los Angeles resident consciously made the decision to take up what he calls “a vice” and decided that having a potty mouth was the way to go.

“[Cursing] was a deliberate action on my part,” he admitted. “Around this time in my career, I had the world by the tail. I was the talented newcomer in broadcasting. I was the bright, fair-haired boy. I was good at my job. I didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t do drugs. There were no big negatives associated with me.”

“And that caused problems, because it held me back from becoming one of the guys . . . People can be suspicious of someone who’s so chaste,” he said. “They’re afraid to let their guard down and be themselves for fear they’ll be judged. I needed a vice. . . I started cursing, or to be more precise, injecting curse words into my conversations.”

Trebek concluded that deciding to start cursing was not the best decision, only because it didn’t help him reach the goal he’d hoped for.

In the end, he wrote, “it didn’t help me become one of the guys. It just made me look like a jerk. My bad.”