Jeopardy! Host Alex Trebek on His Surprise Favorite Impersonation

It's hard to believe Alex Trebek was the face of Jeopardy! for over 36 years. The long-time host passed at the age of 80 from pancreatic cancer on November 8. As far as becoming such a staple and its place in pop culture history, there plenty of instances where the game show was parodied. Most famously, the host was played by Will Ferrell on the long-running NBC late-night series Saturday Night Live. On SNL's "Celebrity Jeopardy" conceived by Norm MacDonald, the skit typically involved the host and two cast members playing lampooned buffoon versions of celebrities often giving the worst and generally incorrect responses to questions. Surprisingly, it wasn't Ferrell's impression that Trebek liked the most, but rather fellow Canadian Eugene Levy of Second City Television (SCTV).

A Message From Alex Trebek | JEOPARDY!
A Message From Alex Trebek | JEOPARDY!

Why Jeopardy Host Alex Trebek Lived Eugene Levy's Impression

"Eugene Levy to this day I maintain did the best Alex Trebek ever, better than Will Ferrell," Trebek told the Archive of American Television. "He looked more the part, too. He had the dark hair and he had the black mustache." Levy played Alex Trebel in the parody. "He was introduced at first as Alex Trebel, but I guess they figured 'let's forget about this charade and let's just call you Alex Trebek.'"

MacDonald created the sketch mostly to use his Burt Reynolds impression and it led to Darrell Hammond's Sean Connery. The sketch took off really well even when MacDonald was fired from SNL and Hammond's Connery became its most popular "celebrity" often finding opportunities to emasculate and mock "Trebek" and his mother. Hammond mentioned in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter how Connery became his most successful character and the one audiences still reference in his stand-up.

"I loved them," Trebek said. "It means you've arrived. If you do a take-off of somebody, it is a sign that you believe your audience will immediately recognize who you're poking fun at. And if that's the case, that means there must be a lot of people who have watched your show over the years or are watching now. So, they know immediately what the reference is. You're popular not only because of your own show, but the take-offs and mentions on other shows."

Though SNL was able to get Trebek to appear on Ferrell's final time in the sketch as a cast member, creator Lorne Michaels was never able to get Connery, who was enjoying retirement at the time. You can watch the rest of the interview below.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.

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