‘Jeopardy!’: How Was Alex Trebek Always Able to Pronounce Things Correctly?

by Jennifer Shea
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Late, great “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek was unfailingly accurate in his pronunciations. And he had a trick to make sure he never stumbled over a word during the taping of the game show.

Trebek said he felt compelled to get it right because audiences looked to “Jeopardy!” as an authoritative source.

“I read through the questions before we tape,” Trebek explained in a 2014 interview with USA Today. “I look up words if I don’t know the pronunciation, or if it’s a foreign word.”

He added, “I think it’s incumbent [on] a program such as ours to correctly pronounce words. People are looking at ‘Jeopardy!’ and using us as a barometer for accuracy of information.”

‘Jeopardy!’ Host Caused a Furor by Shaving His Mustache

In 2001, Trebek made waves by shaving his iconic mustache. Reflecting on the decision years later, he said he was surprised at the reaction that one seemingly superficial choice provoked.

“I decided on a whim between taping shows that day,” Trebek told USA Today. “I was amazed at the reaction out there. There was a lot of turmoil going on in the world, and yet the big thing was Alex Trebek’s mustache.”

Then, in 2018, Trebek kicked off the 35th season of “Jeopardy!” by showing up with a silver beard. Soon thereafter, he switched to a goatee.

“Jeopardy!” asked fans to vote on social media, and many fans weighed in in defense of the beard. But Trebek himself did not seem to like it very much, because next thing fans knew, he had shaved the goatee down to a mustache again.

Finally, in an Instagram video, Trebek shaved even the mustache, returning to the clean-shaven look. Turns out there was one vote that counted more than all the others.

“Sorry to have to tell you folks, but voting is now closed,” Trebek said in the Instagram video. “And we’ve determined that the winner is my wife, Jean. She voted for me to be clean-shaven, and so, that’s it.”

Trebek’s Widow Jean Speaks on His Behalf

In a recent appearance on “Inspiring America,” Trebek’s widow Jean spoke to Savannah Guthrie about Trebek’s life and legacy.

She said Trebek always tried to make a difference in the world, whether the cause was starving Ethiopians or homeless people in Los Angeles. Jean explained that Trebek believed in people’s innate goodness and thought they could rise to challenges with a little encouragement.

“I think that is one of Alex’s gifts was that he could be very resolute and know that the truth will not hurt you, and he wanted to empower people to move through whatever challenge they had in life with a sense of inner strength, inner dignity, and love,” she said.

Trebek died on Nov. 8, 2020 of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife Jean and children Nicky, Matthew and Emily.

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