Beloved Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has died at the age of 80. Just after high noon on Sunday, the official social media accounts for Jeopardy! announced, “Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex.” Trebek spent the last 36 years asking answers.
The Canadian born personality and icon graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in Philosophy. Post-graduation, Trebek abandoned his degree path to pursue a stronger passion of his—journalism. The young graduate got a job with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a reporter. Several years later, he transitioned from journalist to television game show host.
Art Flemming hosted the first incarnation of Jeopardy! which started in the mid-1960s. The new show, created by Merv Griffin, came after several scandals killed off many game shows of the 1950s for allegedly feeding contestants correct answers. Griffin’s wife suggested that they give contestants the answers and ask the questions. The show was canceled about a decade after its start but was revived with a new host sporting an iconic mustache in 1984. Since then Jeopardy! has been a symbol of pop culture and Americana.
In March 2019, Trebek recorded a video on the Jeopardy! set announcing he had recently been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. Acknowledging the prognosis of his illness and with tons of fight in him, he assured his loyal audience, “I’m going to fight this!” Since then, he used his platform to raise awareness for the cancer.
Celebrities have taken to Twitter to write their condolences and fond memories with the late host. Ken Jennings, Jeopardy! “Greatest of All Time” tournament champion who also holds the record for the most games won on Jeopardy after his 74-game winning streak in the early 2000s, posted a photo of himself and Trebek, tweeting, “Alex wasn’t just the best ever at what he did. He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I’m grateful for every minute I got to spend with him.” He then added another tweet to the thread, “Thinking today about his family and his Jeopardy! family—which, in a way, included millions of us.” Jennings joined the Jeopardy! staff as a consulting producer this season.
James Holzhauer, the man whom you may know as “Jeopardy! James” after his money-building streak on the show in 2019, also expressed his sadness upon hearing the sober news, tweeting, “It was one of the great privileges of my life to spend time with this courageous man while he fought the battle of his life. You will never be replaced in our hearts, Alex.”
This past summer, Trebek released a memoir entitled “The Answer Is . . .: Reflections on My Life.” You can purchase the New York Times recommended read here.
Jeopardy! was forced to go on hiatus this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The quiz show returned with new episodes this fall. The last batch of Jeopardy! episodes were recorded on Oct. 29. Its final broadcast is scheduled to be Christmas Day.
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