Alex Trebek, ‘Jeopardy!’ host, dead at 80

Alex Trebek, long-time host of the game show “Jeopardy!”
Photo via Instagram

After 37 years of hosting and more than 8,000 episodes, America’s favorite game show host, Alex Trebek, has passed away. Trebek has been battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer since March of 2019.

Trebek’s Journey to “Jeopardy!”

In 1961, Trebek landed his first job as a “fill-in reporter and newscaster with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC TV.” Then, in 1966, he moved from journalism to hosting game shows, where he was the host of “Reach for the Top.” This show consisted of “teams of high school students against each other in academic competitions.” In 1970, he went on to host the Canadian show “Jackpot.”

By 1973, Trebek left his home in Canada and moved to Hollywood, California to further his game show host career. During that time, he hosted his first American game show “The Wizard of Odds,” which only “lasted for one season.” He got the gig from Alan Thicke, actor from “Growing Pains.” From 1974-1976 and 1978-1980, he hosted the game show called “High Rollers, which was aired on NBC.” He hosted the show “The $128,000 Question” from 1977-1978 and “Pitfall” from 1981-1982.

“Wheel of Fortune” creator, Merv Griffin, reached out to Trebek in 1984 asking him to host “Jeopardy!” The game show consists of three contestants where the “clues were offered in the form of answers and contestants answered in the form of questions.” The first time the air showed was from 1964 to 1975, but ended after that, until Trebek became the host in 1984 making it “one of the most popular game shows in television history.”

Trebek’s Awards and Book

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has listed all the years and accomplishments for the entirety of his career. In 1999, Trebek received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He also won the Online Film and Television Association (OFTA) award for best host of a game show in “1997, 1998, 2008, 2009 and 2019.”

Trebek was also the winner of the Daytime Emmy award in the outstanding game show host in 1989, 1990, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2019 and 2020. From 1985 to 2020, the years that he did not win these two awards, he has been nominated for them for almost every year consecutively.

Also in 2020, Trebek won the Academy Icon Award.

Just shy of four months before his death, he released a memoir about his life on July 21, 2020. This book was titled “The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life.” His memoir consisted of topics such as his career, family and cancer diagnosis.

Alex Trebek’s memoir, available to buy on Amazon ($15) and Barnes and Noble ($24).
Photo via Instagram

In one part of the memoir, Trebek described himself as “family more than an outside celebrity who comes into your home to entertain you.” From his time on “Jeopardy!” as a host, he said, “Viewers have gotten used to having me there, not so much as a showbiz personality but as an uncle.”

When mentioning his cancer diagnosis, he said, “I don’t like to use the terms battling or fighting when talking about cancer. It suggests there are only two outcomes: winning or losing.”

As for his family, he wrote about the time he found out about his half brother at the age of 40, as well as his own wife and kids.

Reactions to his Death

In an article by Fox News, People Magazine and Buzzfeed, celebrities such as John Legend, Chris Harrison, Mario Lopez, Ryan Seacrest, Pat Sajak, Vana White, Dr. Phil and Charlie Puth paid tribute to Trebek on Twitter.

Legend said, “I was obsessed with “Jeopardy” as a nerdy kid growing up in Ohio. I’ve loved and revered Alex Trebek since I can remember. What an iconic career. RIP Alex Trebek.”

Harrison said, “We lost a hosting legend today and a real gentleman Alex Trebek. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his Jeopardy family.”

Lopez said, “An inspiring, strong, distinguished legend of a man. What is Alex Trebek?”

Seacrest said, “Alex Trebek was like a family member who I watched every night. I remember going to the set to watch him tape a show before I started my TV career. He was a big influence and one of a kind. Rest in Peace, Alex.”

Sajak said, “It was an honor for me to be a part of his professional family for nearly 40 years. His strength and courage and grace during his recent health struggles inspired countless others. Alex was truly one of a kind.”

White said, “I will cherish the many memories I have shared with Alex Trebek that date back well before either of our careers took off.”

Mcgraw said, “Television has lost a true treasure and icon.”

Puth said, “The soundtrack of my life was hearing his voice every night at 7 p.m. There will never be a host quite like him ever again.”

With his passing, fans are wondering if the game show will ever be the same and who will take his place.