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Alex Trebek, longtime host of 'Jeopardy!,' dies at 80 after cancer battle

His role as the 'Jeopardy!' host earned Trebek five Daytime Emmy Awards and a spot in the Guinness Book of Records.

Alex Trebek, longtime host of 'Jeopardy!,' dies at 80 after cancer battle
Cover Image Source: Getty Images/ "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek at Encore Las Vegas on April 9, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller)

Alex Trebek, the legendary TV game-show host who quizzed Jeopardy! contestants on history, geography, hip-hop lyrics, "Potent Potables," and "Potpourri," died in Los Angeles on Sunday morning at age 80. "Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends," said a statement shared on the show's Twitter account yesterday. "Thank you, Alex." Trebek's death comes less than two years after the genial television personality revealed in March 2019 that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. 







Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards described the father-of-three's death as an "enormous loss" for the show's crew in a statement on Sunday, reports NBC News. The producer said it was an honor to work with Trebek the past year and a half as the host continued working even while undergoing treatment for cancer. "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," Richards said. "His constant desire to learn, his kindness, and his professionalism will be with all of us forever."







Speaking to CNN's Ana Cabrera, Richards said that Trebek was "the most professional person" he'd ever worked with in any capacity. "Here he was battling, cancer, pain, chemo, exhaustion... but you couldn't tell when the cameras rolled. As a professional, the fact that he kept pushing and that he recorded what would now be his final episodes less than two weeks ago, gives you an idea of just how much he believed in the show, how much he cared for it. But then, as a man, he was an amazing dad and he loved [his wife] Jean so much that it was inspirational. He was really that great."







Trebek, who hosted more than 8,200 episodes of Jeopardy! over 37 seasons — the most by a presenter of any single TV game show — reportedly filmed his last show on October 29, reports CNN. The show will continue to air episodes hosted by him for the next six weeks and said that it would not announce plans for a new host just yet. "We didn't that it was going to be his last," Richards said of Trebek's final taping but added that the host had not quite been for his usual filming schedule of five shows a day. "He was in pain and we knew it. He'd had surgery. I couldn't believe he was already back from the surgery that he'd had just two weeks before that."










"I had chills the entire tape day. That first show of that final week — which is the week of Christmas — he gives a speech, talking about togetherness [and] how important family is. It will resonate even more now. It was so beautiful that we were all emotional, we were all in tears, and we all started clapping and it almost distracted him because he was going, 'Okay, now let's play 'Jeopardy!' It was one of those days [where] he was at the top of his game even though, clearly he was very ill," Richards revealed.







Born in Sudbury, Ontario, Trebek studied philosophy before becoming a reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. He switched from journalism to hosting game shows in 1966, starting with a quiz show titled Reach for the Top and a few years later, Jackpot. Trebek landed his big break in 1984 when producer-host Merv Griffin chose him to emcee a revival of Jeopardy! paired with another hit game show, Wheel of Fortune. It went on to earn Trebek five Daytime Emmy Awards for his role as host and a spot in the Guinness Book of Records as the person who had hosted 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," Trebek said of the honor in a 2014 interview. Although he began hinting it might be time to retire in 2018, he agreed to sign one last contract extension, which was to run through 2022. "He loved that 'Jeopardy!' popularized intelligence and it was important for him," said Richards. "I think he really became synonymous with the show, in that he really was that smart." The iconic host "reveled in these intelligent people, in the contestants, in the writers," Richards revealed, adding that Trebek would review every clue for each show, rewriting them, and giving them his own flavor. "It's just who he was -- he craved knowledge. And it showed."






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