Rest in peace Alex Trebek. Trebek, the host of “Jeopardy”, passed away last week at the age of 80. He was one of the most celebrated hosts in American television history. Apparently, he almost found his way to primetime in Canada, as well.
According to Awful Announcing, Trebek was a finalist to host CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada in 1971. Here is the story:
The year was 1971 and Hockey Night in Canada had just fired Ward Cornell and was looking for a younger and more dynamic replacement. The way former executive producer Ralph Mellanby tells it, five candidates made the short list. One of them was Dave Hodge, who ultimately got the job and hosted the show for 16 years. Another was Trebek, who had joined the CBC after graduating from the University of Ottawa and was best known for hosting a high school game show called Reach for the Top. He had also hosted broadcasts of horse racing and figure skating. “We wanted to get younger and more vibrant,” Mellanby said. “And one of the guys I got from Ottawa was Alex Trebek. He was doing some sports and other things. I really liked Trebek.”
Mellanby said he was in the office of his boss, Ted Hough, the former president of the Canadian Sports Network, which produced Hockey Night. As Hough and Mellanby watched the audition tapes of the five finalists, the more Mellanby wanted Trebek to fill the chair. But he was overruled by his boss, who had a strict rule that immediately eliminated Trebek from the running. “We’re watching (Trebek’s) audition and I said, ‘Ted, that’s the guy I really want,’ ” Mellanby said. “And he said, ‘We’re not hiring him. We don’t hire guys with moustaches!’ So I hired Dave Hodge.”
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So, I guess it was Trebek’s mustache that held him back from a career in sports media. It’s probably for the best, Trebek was absolutely phenomenal as the host of Jeopardy.
Alex Trebek will forever be a legend.