Alex Trebek, who will be remembered for hosting the popular game show Jeopardy, has died. He was 80.
"Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex," the show tweeted Sunday.
In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for Jeopardy said episodes hosted by Trebek will continue to air through Dec. 25. His last day in the studio was Oct. 29.
Trebek opened up about his pancreatic cancer diagnosis for the first time publicly in March 2019, and frequently followed up with video messages taped on the Jeopardy set, keeping loyal viewers and fans abreast of the latest news regarding his health.
The host revealed he had stage 4 cancer, which indicated that the illness was no longer localized and had spread throughout the body.
“I'm gonna fight this, and I'm gonna keep working,” Trebek said when he first disclosed the news of his diagnosis. “And with the love and support of my family and friends, and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.”
In August 2019, he said he finished several rounds of chemotherapy treatments and was in near remission. The following month, Trebek announced that he would have to receive additional chemo treatments, saying his previous update "was a bit premature and certainly over-optimistic."
"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," the show's executive producer, Mike Richards, said in a statement.
Trebek’s lasting legacy will undoubtedly be his work as the host of Jeopardy, where he worked for more than 35 years and hosted more than 8,200 episodes. In 2018, his contract with the show was extended through 2022, there were reports that Trebek entertained the idea of retiring in 2020.
“Fifty-fifty and a little less,” Trebek told TMZ’s Harvey Levin during an interview on Fox News’ Objectified in 2018 when asked about his future on the show. Speculation about whether he’d leave the show in recent years seemed to irk Trebek, who told New York magazine’s Vulture in 2018, “I don’t understand the publicity around it.”
“The same thing happened when I shaved my mustache off in 2001,” Trebek told the outlet. “It got so much play. Folks, get a life. There are more important things.”
George Alexander Trebek was born in Sudbury, Canada, on July 22, 1940. He was the son of a French Canadian mother, Lucille, and a Ukrainian immigrant father, George. Trebek’s upbringing was typical of many young children at the time, he told Levin in their interview.
“Like many young boys, I had a paper route and I was a good student,” Trebek said. His family life was normal for a time too, though he admitted that his parents had “some pretty good arguments” before the two divorced when Trebek was 12. Soon after, the man who would one day become the host of one of the most popular shows in the history of television was sent to boarding school. “In high school, I started to fool around a little too much for the teachers and could be described as slightly unruly,” Trebek once said.
After graduating from the University of Ottawa High School in 1961, Trebek began working at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation full-time as a reporter and newscaster. Later on, Trebek would switch his career trajectory for what would eventually be his claim to fame: being an extraordinary game show host.
In the early '70s, Trebek moved to the US, and for the next decade, he was a familiar face seen on a variety of television game shows, including The Wizard of Odds, Double Dare, The $128,000 Question, and The New High Rollers.
In 1984, Trebek became the host of Jeopardy — and the rest was history. Over the course of his 35 years hosting, Trebek became a beloved pop culture figure in the US. To date, he’s won six Daytime Emmys out of an impressive 30 nominations. And the program itself boasts more Emmy wins than any trivia show ever.
Before his death, Trebek was asked what he’d do on the day of his final Jeopardy taping, to which he replied, “Well, it’ll take me a while to get home after taping because I leave the studio at rush hour.”
“Then I’ll come into the house and, probably, have a glass of wine with my wife. Then we’ll look at each other and say, 'What next? What now?'”
Trebek is survived by his wife of 30 years, Jean, and children Matthew, Emily, and Nicky.