Alex Trebek, the host of Jeopardy! for over 35 years and more than 8,200 episodes, has died at the age of 80 after his battle with pancreatic cancer.
The official Jeopardy! Twitter account posted the news soon after Alex Trebek’s death, stating, “Jeopardy! Is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex.” A spokesperson for Jeopardy! Told BuzzFeed News that Trebek’s last day filming was on October 29 and that his episodes will continue to air through December 25.
Born in Ontario in 1940, Alex Trebek began his broadcast career in 1961, working for the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, where he would read the CBC national radio news and cover events for CBC Radio and CBC Television. His first hosting job was in 1963 for the Canadian musical show, Music Hop. In 1966, Trebek started hosting his first quiz show with Reach for the Top.
After hosting many Canadian shows, Alex Trebek moved to the United States in 1973, where he hosted a number of game shows, including Jackpot, High Rollers, The $128,000 Question, Battlestars, Pitfall, and the CBS game show, Double Dare.
But in 1984, Alex Trebek began hosting the series he would become known for: Jeopardy! While still hosting Jeopardy!, Trebek made history in 1991 by hosting three American game shows at the same time, including Classic Concentration, and To Tell the Truth.
Over his years hosting Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek won six Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Game Show Host. In 2011, Trebek received the lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and in 2014, he was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for setting the record of most episodes hosted of a game show, surpassing the previous record-holder, The Price is Right’s Bob Barker.
Alex Trebek was remarkably open with his audience about his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, announcing the news to the public in March 2019. Trebek stated, “I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease,” following that by joking, “I have to because under the terms of my contract I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years!” After saying that he was nearly in remission, Trebek announced on September 2019 that the statement had been “premature and certainly over-optimistic,” stating that he had more chemo treatments ahead of him.
Jeopardy! quit filming over the summer, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet after several months off, Alex Trebek had stated he was eager to begin taping the show again. Despite saying that he felt fatigued over the last year due to chemotherapy, Trebek still taped five episodes a day. Earlier this year, Trebek also wrote his memoir, The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life.
Alex Trebek also often played himself in a variety of projects, most notably appearing in episodes of The Simpsons, Family Guy, Seinfeld, and How I Met Your Mother. He even said that he admired Will Ferrell’s infamous take on him on Saturday Night Live, even appearing on Ferrell’s last episode of the late-night show. Trebek recently appeared on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and is scheduled to make a cameo in the upcoming Ryan Reynolds film, Free Guy.
Over decades as host of Jeopardy!, Trebek became one of the most beloved game show hosts of all-time, a consummate professional that still always had fun with his job until the very end. Trebek made knowing random bits of information feel like an accomplishment, and his ability to relay trivia about everything from historical battles to rap lyrics made every episode he hosted charming and delightful. If the answer is “Alex Trebek,” the question is “Who will be a greatly missed icon of television?”
Alex Trebek is survived by his wife Jean, and his three children, Matthew, Emily and Nicky.