By Sravan Gannavarapu
BU News Service
LOS ANGELES – The television and quiz show industry has suffered one of its greatest losses. “Jeopardy!’ host and Emmy award winner Alex Trebek passed away Sunday morning at the age of 80 after a long battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” the show said in a statement on Twitter. “Thank you, Alex.”
Known for his facial hair and friendly personality, Trebek has been a revolutionary figure in the entertainment world since he first took over as the host of “Jeopardy!” from Art Fleming in 1984. A man who easily connected with home viewers, Trebek could be compared to the late Walter Cronkite, whose voice was in the homes of viewers for years as both an authoritative and comforting presence.
Trebek earned a Guinness World Record for hosting the most episodes of a single game show – over 8,000. The only episode which he did not host since his debut was in 1997 during an April Fool’s swap with Pat Sajak from “Wheel of Fortune.”
Trebek hosted the program for 37 years, breaking records while watching the show rise to fame. Furthermore, he was a seven-time recipient of the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host.
Back in March 2019, Trebek released a video stating that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Nonetheless, he continued to host the show, including the recent “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” special that featured 74-time champion Ken Jennings, the all-time money winner Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauer, the player who holds the record for the most money won in a single game. The $1million competition was won by Jennings with Rutter and Holzhauer each receiving $250,000.
All three men, as well as many former champions, took to social media to express sadness and grief over a man who helped them greatly in their lives.
“Alex wasn’t just the best ever at what he did,” Jennings tweeted. “He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I’m grateful for every minute I got to spend with him.”
Contestants had been supporting Trebek in his diagnosis since it was announced. In 2019, during a semi-final match in “Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions,” college champion Dhruv Gaur delivered a touching “We love you, Alex” during Final Jeopardy. All the contestants wore purple ribbons in honor of the fight against pancreatic cancer that sadly claimed the life of Teacher’s Tournament champion Larry Martin.
“Jeopardy!” announced Sunday that episodes with Trebek will continue to air until Dec. 25, 2020. There is no word as to who will eventually take Trebek’s place – whoever it is will have to fill very large shoes.
Trebek is survived by his wife Jean, and their two children, Matthew and Emily.