Late host Alex Trebek may best be remembered for “Jeopardy!” But he hosted a number of gameshows before then, including one that didn’t even air.
Trebek was the host of the game show “Pitfall” during the 1980s. Most people have probably never heard of the show before. In an era where gameshows dominated the TV landscape, “Pitfall” failed to launch. To host the show, Trebek had to cross country borders to film. The show filmed in Vancouver, Canada. But Trebek lived in Los Angeles.
Known for his work ethic, Trebek didn’t mind making the trek to Canada to film. In total, the game show host spent months working on the show. “Pitfall” was a trivia show in the vein of “Jeopardy!” and others. But there was one big twist. Contestants were balanced on a bridge above a pitfall. The contestants had to use their multitasking skills to win. They had to successfully answer questions while walking across the bridge without falling off.
Unfortunately, none of Trebek’s efforts ever saw the light of day. Catalena Productions, the studio behind the show, hit a financial snag during production. As a result, they had to can the show and all of the already recorded episodes as well. It was a blow for Trebek during a period in which he needed a win.
Alex Trebek and ‘Jeopardy!’
In fact, Trebek ultimately wasn’t even paid for the work and travel he put in. The production company wrote him a bad check that he couldn’t cash. Trebek decided to frame the check as a result.
“‘Pitfall’ was not a pleasant experience. They bounced my payment check. It came at a bad time because my father had died and my marriage had dissolved. I was in bad, bad straits and could have used the money,” Trebek said of his experience on the show.
Fortunately for Trebek, things began to look up for the game show host. Just two years later, he landed at “Jeopardy!,” which would become the defining game show of his career. Under “Jeopardy!,” Trebek became one of the game show industry’s longest and most iconic figures. He entertained audiences for decades with his quick wit and kind heart.
It’s easy to say that Trebek made the show what it became today. But it’s still strange to imagine him on a trivia show of an entirely different nature if “Pitfall” had made it to the air and would have been a hit.