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Alex Trebek, Iconic Host of ‘Jeopardy!,’ Dead at 80

Alex Trebek, the charmingly matter-of-fact host of the brain-teasing “Jeopardy!” for 36 years — more episodes of a game show than anyone in history — has died following his highly publicized battle with pancreatic cancer.

He was 80.

The show’s Instagram account confirmed his death Sunday, posting simply, “‘Jeopardy!’ is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex.”

Pre-taped shows with Trebek as host will air until Christmas Day. There are no immediate plans regarding a replacement.

The future TV star was born July 22, 1940, in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. With a background in philosophy, Trebek aimed for a career in broadcast journalism, taking his first steps in that direction for the CBC while he was still in school at the University of Ottawa.

Covering news for the network, he first tried his hand at hosting with the 1963 Canadian music series “Music Hop,” and hosted his first quiz show, “Reach for the Top,” in 1966.

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One of TV’s most famous mustaches

His hosting duties continued, and they expanded once he relocated to Los Angeles, where he hosted the game shows “The Wizard of Odds” (1973-1974), “Double Dare” (1976-1977), and “The New High Rollers” (1979-1980).

In 1984, Trebek shot two different pilots for a revival of the classic game show “Jeopardy!” (1964-1975), which had been hosted by his friend Art Fleming. One of the Merv Griffin-produced pilots was picked up and became a pop cultural sensation, with handsome, drily funny Trebek reading answers instead of questions, and requiring contestants to always answer in the form of a question. The show called for vast general knowledge, distinguishing it from games of chance.

Trebek became a star for his precise diction and his, “Oh, no — sorry,” Trebek’s way of gently, and sometimes not so gently, letting a contestant know they’d missed an easy one.

Trebek, often a multi-tasker, successfully hosted “Classic Concentration” (1987-1991) during his early “Jeopardy!” years, among other side jobs.

The previously mustachioed host became so iconic he was called upon to play himself in numerous guest spots on series, in person or voicing animated appearances, including on such shows as “Mama’s Family” (1988), “The Golden Girls” (1992), “Ellen” (1995), “The Nanny” (1995), “Beverly Hills, 90210″ (1995),”Seinfeld” (1996), “Men Behaving Badly” (1997), “The Simpsons” (1997), “Baywatch” (1998), “Mad About You” (1999), “Family Guy” (2006), “How I Met Your Mother” (2013), “Hot in Cleveland” (2014), and “Orange Is the New Black” (2018).

An infrequent guest on game shows, he placed second on “Celebrity Poker Showdown” in 2005 and “To Tell the Truth” in 2018.

Among many industry honors, Trebek was the recipient of seven Outstanding Game Show Host Daytime Emmys, a Lifetime Achievement Daytime Emmy, and — though a naturalized U.S. citizen — was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017. In 2013, he was voted one of the Top 10 most trust Americans by Reader’s Digest.

Alex-Trebek-Jeopardy-ExtraTV

Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

In 2019, contestant Dhur Gaur made Trebek choke up with this answer.

Trebek announced he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer on March 6 of last year, and went on to grant interviews to spread information about the disease, and to give hope to others dealing with it. Though he had a poor prognosis and the treatment was extremely painful and draining, he continued to work and to project optimism.

He published an inspirational memoir, “The Answer Is… Reflections on My Life” just four months ago.

Trebek is survived by his second wife, Jean, to whom he was wed for 30 years, and by his three children.


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