‘Jeopardy!’: The Time a Young Alex Trebek Got Kicked Out of Boarding School and Had to Beg to Get Back In

While Alex Trebek has been known for decades as the suit-and-tie-wearing, academically exacting host of Jeopardy!, he hasn’t always been.

The 80-year-old shared in his memoir, The Answer Is… about his school days in Canada, with self-described behavior so trying, he was eventually asked not to return.

Find out the lengths the future television personality went to in order to get back into his school’s good graces.

Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Trebek’s parents got married because his mother was expecting him

As a young man, Trebek wrote in his memoir, he became privy to the fact that his parents had married because his mother learned she was expecting the future quiz show host. But there was most certainly love between the pair.

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“I think [his mother’s] taking up with Dad might’ve been a way to rebel a little,” Trebek wrote, “and to try to get herself out of the house and out on her own. And Dad was happy because he had found a family. They cared deeply for each other.”

“They had to get married because Mom got pregnant…,” he said. “My mother went through thirty-six hours of labor before delivering me. She lived to be 95 and reminded me of this many times.”

Alex Trebek was asked not to return to school because of his antics

Trebek’s parents’ relationship began to deteriorate, and they separated, causing him to act up in school. Unfortunately, it almost cost him his education.

“I mentioned earlier that my parents cared deeply for each other, but they were ill-suited,” Trebek admitted. “Dad was a smoker and a heavy drinker. Mom was a teetotaler, and she was brighter than he was. Divorce was almost unheard of in our community, but they separated, which caused me no end of grief.”

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A father of three today, Trebek, as many children do in moments of family strife, blamed himself.

“Somehow I thought it was my fault because they had been “forced” to marry…” he recalled. “I began acting out, and that didn’t serve me well at the University of Ottawa prep school. I was unruly, so unruly they were going to throw me out.”

Alex Trebek…begging?

His school didn’t throw him out but they told Trebek with finality that he was not welcome back.

At first, he wrote, his younger self was just fine with the situation. His unhappiness with the circumstances at home had seemingly affected his demeanor at school as well. As far as he was concerned, it was good riddance to be done with that school.

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The original heartbreaker. #JeopardyVault

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Then the realization swept over him that he had thrown something valuable away.

“[T]hat summer,” he wrote, “I started thinking, ‘Jeez, this is not good.’ So my dad and I went to Ottawa…and basically on bended knee we begged the principal to be allowed to come back…He said he’d take a chance on me, and I never gave him cause to regret that decision.”

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