‘Jeopardy!’: Alex Trebek Once Recalled Learning How to ‘Fit In’ in Hollywood

by Joe Rutland
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Becoming part of the Hollywood scene takes a little education. Late “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek took time to learn how to do so.

Trebek, who died from pancreatic cancer in November 2020, talked about his travails with Hollywood lifestyles in a 2018 interview with Vulture. When he first hit town, he was a single guy back in the 1980s.

“I was not a player,” Trebek said. “I dated not that often. I was a shy, small-town Canadian kid.”

Trebek, who followed Art Fleming as “Jeopardy!” host when the show was revived, was born in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. He was a naturalized American citizen from 1998 until his death.

‘Jeopardy’ Host Received Helping Hand From Former Warner Bros. Publicist

In the interview, he mentions Alan Hamel, who is a Canadian entertainer, producer, and television host.

“A friend of mine, Alan Hamel, who is married to Suzanne Somers, had come to California before I did,” Trebek said. “And I always thought, ‘He fits right into this society.’ I never felt like I belonged.”

But the “Jeopardy!” host didn’t start to feel like he belonged until someone older than him helped out.

“There was a man named Richard Gully, who had been a publicist for (Warner Bros. Chairman) Jack Warner,” he said. “We met, and because he threw a lot of dinner parties at the Bistro, an ‘in’ restaurant in Beverly Hills at the time, he often needed single guys to fill out the table.”

Trebek said Gully invited him and, with Gully’s presence, started introducing Trebek to people. It made Trebek feel more comfortable.

TV Show Producer Sugerman Started Introducing Trebek To Others

Another person who helped out was TV producer Burt Sugerman, who produced Trebek’s first game show “The Wizard of Odds” between 1973-74. Sugerman also produced the very popular Friday night music show “The Midnight Special” on NBC.

Sugerman, Trebek said, “introduced me to the backgammon-playing community.”

“I met people that way; I didn’t have to go out on my own,” the late “Jeopardy!” host said. “And once I’d achieved a certain degree of popularity, I would play in celebrity golf tournaments and meet stars. Frank Sinatra told me he was a fan of the show. Jimmy Stewart, too.

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. These major stars watch me on occasion,'” Trebek said. “I felt good about that.”

After “The Wizard of Odds” from 1973-74 on NBC, Trebek also hosted “High Rollers” from 1974-76 and 1978-80. He hosted “Classic Concentration” from 1987-91 at the same time he hosted “Jeopardy!” too.

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