'Jeopardy!' host Alex Trebek dies at age 80

Drew Weisholtz

Longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek died Sunday morning at the age of 80.

The Twitter account for the beloved game show confirmed the news, writing, "Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex."

According to a statement, episodes hosted by Trebek will air through Dec. 25, 2020 as his last day in the studio was Oct. 29. At this time, the show is not announcing plans for a new host.

In March 2019, Trebek revealed that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer in a video shared by the game show. He was so overwhelmed by the show of support that he thanked fans in another video where he confessed, "I'm a lucky guy."

After he finished taping "Jeopardy's!" 35th season in April 2019, Trebek provided another update on his health, remaining optimistic.

Related: Burt Thakur, who came out as Thursday's champion, emotionally thanked Trebek for making an indelible impact on his life.

"I've always tried to be straight with you and I'm not going to stop now," he said. "So despite what you may have heard, I'm feeling good, I'm continuing with my therapy and we — by we, the staff — is already working on our next season, the 36th year of 'Jeopardy!'"

In May 2019, he told People magazine that some of his tumors had shrunk in half.

"The doctors said that they hadn't seen this kind of positive result in their memory," he said. "It's kind of mind-boggling. I've already gone from where I was to this. The doctors are so excited, just beside themselves with joy."

That same month, Trebek won a Daytime Emmy Award for hosting "Jeopardy!" and used the time to deliver a sweet and amusing acceptance speech.

During the summer of 2019, he did indeed follow through on his earlier remarks and announced he had returned to his hosting duties for the show's 36th season after finishing his chemotherapy.

"Today, 'Jeopardy!' begins its 36th season on the air, and I'm happy to report I'm still here,'' he said on the show when it returned for the new season.

In September 2019, though, he revealed in a YouTube video that he would need to undergo more chemotherapy.

“One of the things I have learned in the past six months is that the course of pancreatic cancer treatment is not a straightforward affair," he said. "There are always curves and unexpected events."

In an October 2019 interview with Canada's CTV, he spoke candidly about his condition.

"I’m not afraid of dying," he said. "I’ve lived a good life, a full life, and I’m nearing the end of that life … if it happens, why should I be afraid of it?

A native of Canada, Trebek had hosted the popular game show since it was relaunched in 1984. A fixture in living rooms, he was a staple on the small screen and, in 2014, set the Guinness record for most game show episodes hosted by the same person on the same program, eclipsing Bob Barker for his work on “The Price is Right.”

Born on July 22, 1940, he hosted a variety of TV shows in the '60s in his native country before moving south and landing his first game show in the United States in 1973 with "The Wizard of Odds." As game shows remained a hot commodity in the country in the '70s, so, too, did Trebek and he would go on to star that decade in short-lived efforts like "High Rollers," "The $128,000 Question," "Pitfall" and "Battlestars."

Image: Ron Galella Archive - File Photos (Ron Galella, Ltd. / WireImage)
Image: Ron Galella Archive - File Photos (Ron Galella, Ltd. / WireImage)

In 1984, he snagged the job that would define his career by hosting "Jeopardy!," which was a revival of the show of the same name that originally aired from 1964 to 1975. The show would go on to be a huge hit and Trebek would win six Daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding game show host. In 2011, he also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmys.

Image: JEOPARDY!, host Alex Trebek (during 'Final Jeopardy' segment), 1984-, (C) ABC / Courtesy: Everett Coll (Everett)
Image: JEOPARDY!, host Alex Trebek (during 'Final Jeopardy' segment), 1984-, (C) ABC / Courtesy: Everett Coll (Everett)

"You have to set your ego aside," Trebek told New York in 2018 about the key to hosting "Jeopardy!" "The stars of the show are the contestants and the game itself. That’s why I’ve always insisted that I be introduced as the host and not the star."

Trebek also took on other jobs after "Jeopardy!" had established itself, hosting "Classic Concentration" from 1988 to 1991 and a short-lived stint on an updated version of "To Tell the Truth" in 1991.

Even though he was known for hosting a program that tested people’s intelligence, Trebek always maintained an everyman spirit and was never above having fun, whether it was singing answers or not shying away when his facial hair riveted the Internet.

Trebek was a cultural icon who transcended any one age group, appearing as himself on such popular shows over the years as “Cheers,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “The Simpsons,” “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “The Golden Girls” and “The Simpsons.”

He leaves behind a wife, Jean Currivan-Trebek, and their two children.

His popularity also increased with help from "Saturday Night Live" in a series of "Jeopardy!" sketches in which a frustrated Trebek, portrayed by Will Ferrell, is forced to deal with the ridiculous performances of various celebrities appearing as contestants.

In his later years, Trebek endured a string of setbacks to his health, including heart attacks in 2007 and 2012.

Image: Alex Trebek (Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)
Image: Alex Trebek (Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)

In 2018, he also revealed he had been tested for Alzheimer’s and took a leave of absence from the show to recover from brain surgery.

In October 2017, he renewed his contract to continue as host of “Jeopardy!” through 2022.

There is no word on who will replace Trebek.