Photo Courtesy of Jeopardy.com
By Angela Hickey
Longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek November 8 week after succumbing to Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Trebek was 80 years old.
Born in Sudbury, Ontario, Trebek studied philosophy before becoming a journalist. He later began his career in 1961, at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation before moving on to hosting the Canadian music program Music Hop in 1963. After moving to the U.S. in 1973, he worked various hosting jobs for NBC and CBS before he began hosting Jeopardy! full time in 1984.
Over the last 36 years, Trebek has hosted more than 8,200 episodes of Jeopardy!, the most episodes done by a presenter of any single TV game show, according to a statement from Sony Pictures. His role led him to receive five Daytime Emmy Awards for his role as host. His longevity was reflected in a personal milestone when he passed Bob Barker of The Price is Right in the Guinness Book of World Records as the host of the most game-show episodes.
“I’m just enjoying what I’m doing, I’m happy to have a job. I like the show, I like the contestants and it pays well,” said Trebek in a 2014 interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
In 2018, Trebek began hinting that he may retire in 2018, but instead signed an additional contract extension, extending his run to 2020.
Trebek revealed the truth of his diagnosis in 2019, prompting tributes from across the entertainment industry and across the nation.
Unlike many celebrities who conceal illness, Mr. Trebek was transparent about what he was going through. Sometimes his pain would shoot “from a 3 to an 11” during tapings, he told CBS’s “Sunday Morning” in May 2019.
“I taped the show, and then I made it to the dressing room on one occasion, just barely, before I writhed in pain and cried in pain,” he revealed in an interview with The New York Times.
Despite the pain he experienced throughout his treatments, he remained strong because to give up, he said, would have been to betray loved ones who were helping him to survive.
Trebek was a staple in the American home for generations, loved and respected by millions of people across the country.
“He graced us with his kindness, warmth, wit and pure elegance, which is why we welcomed him into our homes night after night, year after year,” stated Bob Iger, executive chairman of Disney. “He also showed us what courage looks like as he battled cancer with dignity and determination.”
Trebek continued to work in the studio pre-recording episodes up until his last day on set on October 29. These pre-recorded episodes done by Trebek will air throughout December, with Trebek’s final episode airing on December 25.
“The show is not announcing plans for a new host at this time,” expressed Sony Pictures in a statement released after news broke of Trebek’s passing.
Alex is survived by his wife, Jean, whom he married in 1990, and their three children, Matthew, Emily, and Nickey.