The late iconic Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek was well-known for his signature mustache, which he had for decades on the game show. However, in 2001, he stunned everyone when he shaved off his famous facial hair for the first time in years.
From the time Trebek took the reins of Jeopardy! when it rebooted in 1984, he had a trademark look highlighted by a thick mustache. That’s why he made headlines around the world for his new, clean-shaven look. Even Trebek was surprised by how much attention removing hair from his upper lip received.
From the 2000s on, Trebek would grow the facial hair back for periods at a time. Yet in the years leading up to his November 2020 passing, he mostly stayed clean-shaven. During a November 2018 interview with Vulture, the game show host spoke about the uproar over his facial hair. He said it used to be “unique” for him to have a mustache, but he prefers to “play around” with his facial hair options.
“The host — me — used to be unique by having a mustache,” Trebek explained to Vulture. “I no longer have it, although I like to play around with my facial hair. At the beginning of this season I had the full beard, and that came down to a Van Dyke, and then a mustache, and now I’m clean-shaven.”
For Trebek, it’s a way of having fun with his appearance. Even though Jeopardy! is a serious show as he said, he liked to keep things lighthearted and just have fun.
“Yeah, [the different facial hair looks are] just to have fun,” he added in the interview. “I often joke that Jeopardy! is a serious program hosted by someone who does not take himself seriously.”
‘Jeopardy!’ Host Alex Trebek’s Son Cried After He Shaved His Mustache
After Alex Trebek shaved off his mustache in 2001, his fans weren’t the only people befuddled by the change. His wife was left shocked, and their son even more so.
While speaking with The Archive of American Television in 2014, Trebek recalled the publicity over the adjustment to his look. Not only did media outlets cover the change to the Jeopardy! host’s appearance, but he received quite a bit of criticism from his family as well. He shared the story of coming home to his wife and son, and revealed it didn’t exactly go over well.
“I stood in the doorway and I said, ‘Hi guys’… We talked for a few minutes… for a few minutes more… and a few minutes more… And they didn’t even notice,” Trebek said emphatically.
“I had to say, ‘Do you notice anything different about dad today?’ Then Jean said, ‘Oh my God, you shaved your mustache!’” the Jeopardy! host continued.
“Matthew started to cry,” he recalled. “You do not mess with your children’s lives in that way.”
“It was just on a whim. And what amazed me afterwards… was the amount of press that got! It made newspapers and magazines everywhere!” he said. “I was surprised – and to a certain extent – appalled by this. I said, ‘My God, this is a television quiz show host shaving his mustache.’”