So painful! “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek, who successfully educated and entertained millions of people on the widely admired quiz show, has passed away at 80 years after battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer, the show has announced Sunday.
“Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex,” the show wrote in a statement.
Although Trebek, who hosted “Jeopardy!” for 36 years, had announced he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2019.
“I’m going to fight this and I’m going to keep working and with the love and support from my family and friends and with the help of your prayers,” he vowed in a video released at the time. “I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.
“Truth told, I have to because, under the terms of my contract, I have to host ‘Jeopardy!’ for three more years, so help me. Keep the faith and we will win. We will get it done.”
A brief tour into the presenter: George Alexander Trebek was born on July 22, 1940, in Sudbury, Ontario in Canada to Lucille and George Trebek. His father was a chef at a hotel and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. He had one younger sister, Barbara, who passed away in 2007 after battling breast cancer.
Trebek moved to Ottawa when he was 12 years old for boarding school and then stayed there for college, attending the University of Ottawa in the late 1950s, where he majored in philosophy.
He first got into broadcasting in college when he took a summer job to help him pay for school. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation then offered him a full-time position, which he took while finishing his education.
In 1963, Trebek moved to Toronto, where he hosted a live teen music show called “Music Hop,” and beginning in 1966, Trebek moved into the game show sphere when he hosted a Canadian academic quiz show called “Reach for the Top.”
Just like Will Ferrell’s now-famous “SNL” skit “Celebrity Jeopardy,” “Reach for the Top” sparked Second City’s sketch show “SCTV” to make a parody sketch in which Eugene Levy portrayed a quiz show host named “Alex Trebel.”
“Eugene Levy to this day did the best Alex Trebek ever,” Trebek said in a 2007 interview, adding, “Better than Will Ferrell.” When asked what he thinks of parodies of him he said, “I love them. It means you’ve arrived.”
Later in the 1970s, Trebek moved to the United States where, with the help of Alan Thicke, he became the host of the short-lived NBC game show “The Wizard of Odds.” His girlfriend then, Elaine Callei, moved to the US with him and they tied the knot in 1974. They were married for 7 years before splitting in 1981. By 1998, Trebek became a US citizen.
During an interview with Television Academy in 2007, Trebek said, “My dad got along with everybody. He was everybody’s best friend. He also enjoyed drinking with everybody. Mom didn’t drink, doesn’t drink. Didn’t smoke, doesn’t smoke … she got along with people also and to a certain extent, I guess I picked up on that from them. At least, I hope I did.”
Trebek hosted shows including “High Rollers,” CBS’ “Double Dare,” “$128,000 Question” and “Pitfall” before he landed the role that would define his legacy. In 1984, Trebek was tapped to host a reboot of Merv Griffin’s quiz show “Jeopardy!”
The main show played on NBC from 1964-1975 and featured Art Fleming as its host. It was picked up again with Fleming from 1978-79 before the current version with Trebek premiered on Sept. 10, 1984.
Trebek has won five Daytime Emmy Awards for hosting “Jeopardy!” and in 2011, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honoured him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2014, Trebek scooped a Guinness World Record for “the most game show episodes hosted by the same presenter.”
Trebek has also been inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, the National Association of Broadcasters Broadcasting Hall of Fame and has won a Peabody Award, and has appeared as himself on many TV shows including, “Cheers,” “The Golden Girls,” “The Larry Sanders Show,” “The Nanny,” “The Simpsons,” “Seinfeld,” “Baywatch,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Family Guy” and “Orange Is the New Black.”
Trebek married Jean Currivan in 1990 and they remained married up until his death. In January 2019, he told People he wishes he’d met her sooner, so they could have had a long life together. The couple had two kids together, Emily, who works in real estate, and Matthew, who owns two restaurants, Oso and Lucille’s, in Harlem.