Alex Trebek Dies: Longtime Host Of ‘Jeopardy!’ Was 80

Bruce Haring
·4 min read

Alex Trebek, the longtime host of television quiz show Jeopardy! who inspired millions with his brave public battle against pancreatic cancer, has died. He was 80 and died at home, according to a spokesperson.

Trebek had stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and went public about his condition in March 2019, updating fans on his condition via social media and frequent interviews.

Trebek became host of Jeopardy! upon its revival in 1984. He was under contract until 2022, and pressed on with tapings and media appearances throughout his illness, saying the interactions with the show and his fans were helping him cope.

Jeopardy! recently began Trebek’s 37th season as show host. Earlier this year, he was aboard for the show’s high-rated “Greatest of All-Time” tournament on prime-time television. The tournament was won by Ken Jennings, whom some have speculated as the host who will take over from Trebek.

Trebek-hosted episodes will air through December 25th. His last day taping in studio was October 29.

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Born in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada in 1940 (he became an American citizen in 1998), Trebek also hosted such shows as The Wizard of Odds, Double Dare, High Rollers, Battlestars, Classic Concentration and To Tell The Truth. He also was an actor, frequently appearing as himself in many TV and film spots.

Trebek hosted more than 8,200 Jeopardy! episodes, setting a Guinness World Record for hosting the most episodes of a single game show. He won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host seven times, and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He received the Order of Canada honor from his native land in 2017.

One of his last public appearances came when he announced the third overall draft pick for the Ottawa Senators at the 2020 NHL Draft in October.

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“This is an enormous loss for the Jeopardy! staff, crew and all of Alex’s millions of fans,” said Mike Richards, the Jeopardy! executive producer. “He was a legend of the industry that we were all lucky to watch night after night for 37 years. Working beside him for the past year and a half as he heroically continued to host Jeopardy! was an incredible honor. His belief in the importance of the show and his willingness to push himself to perform at the highest level was the most inspiring demonstration of courage I have ever seen. His constant desire to learn, his kindness, and his professionalism will be with all of us forever.”

“Today we lost a legend and a beloved member of the Sony Pictures family,” said Tony Vinciquerra, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “For 37 amazing years, Alex was that comforting voice, that moment of escape and entertainment at the end of a long, hard day for millions of people around the world. He was the heart and soul of Jeopardy! and he will be deeply missed by everyone who made him part of their lives. Our hearts go out to Jean, Matthew, Emily, and Nicky.”

“We join our colleagues at Sony Pictures in mourning the passing of Alex Trebek,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, Chairman, President and CEO, Sony Corporation. “Alex was an extraordinary talent whose intelligence, wit and comforting presence appealed to millions of people around the world and made Jeopardy! the outstanding show it is today.”

Steve LoCascio, President of CBS Television Distribution, called Trebek’s death “a tremendous loss” for the Jeopardy! family.

“Not only was Alex a television icon, but he was one of the most genuine, kind, caring people you could ever know,” LoCascio said. “The way he openly and bravely battled cancer, while continuing to host the show, was a true inspiration. He has brought joy to the millions of fans – including generations of families — who have welcomed Alex into their living room each night. Our hearts go out to Alex’s wife and children. We have truly lost a legend.”

Trebek is survived by his wife of 30 years, Jean, and children Matthew, Emily, and Nicky. The family has announced no plans for a service, but gifts in his memory can go to World Vision, a humanitarian charity focused on aiding those in poverty.

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