Over the years, Daytime Emmy Award winner Alex Trebek has become synonymous with “Jeopardy!” The longtime host has earned the trust and admiration of countless viewers across the nation.
Last March, Trebek announced that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer on his YouTube channel.
“I have some news to share with all of you, and it’s in keeping with my longtime policy of being open and transparent with our “Jeopardy!” fan base,” said Trebek. “Just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer,” he shared.
While the news he broke was devastating, the then-78-year-old’s message maintained a surprisingly positive tone delivered in true game show host form. “Now, normally the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m gonna fight this, and I’m gonna keep working,” announced the hopeful host before asking for prayers.
Though the health updates Trebek shared over the following year consistently held that similar tone of positivity, sadly he lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on Sunday morning.
Alex Trebek died at 80 years old.
For almost forty years, Trebek charismatically and genuinely interacted with the thousands of contestants that participated in America’s favorite game show.
His impactful presence in the realm of TV entertainment endured the test of time, with him earning a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for “the most game show episodes hosted by the same person,” outdoing even the revered Bob Barker. The “Jeopardy!” host held an impressive record of over 8,200 shows.
According to an announcement by the official “Jeopardy!” Twitter account, Trebek passed away at home surrounded by the ones he loved yesterday morning.
“Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” the show’s tweet read. “Thank you, Alex.”
And they weren’t the only ones heartbroken by Trebek’s death.
The heavy hearts of fans poured out over social media, including the celebrity likes of Ryan Reynolds, Jimmy Kimmel, and Steve Harvey, who held their dear friend in highest esteem.
Couldn’t we have one nice weekend? A kind gentleman whose excellence was so consistent, it was easy to take for granted. Rest well, Mr. Trebek. https://t.co/Zq7RN6kSKk
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) November 8, 2020
— Steve Harvey (@IAmSteveHarvey) November 8, 2020
William Shatner, John Legend, Seth Myers, among many others, also chimed in with their personal condolences:
Very sorry to hear the news about Alex Trebek. Condolences to his family. 😞
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) November 8, 2020
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.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) November 8, 2020
“RIP to a great giver a of joy and knowledge,” Seth Meyers simply wrote.
Fans also reminisced on a particularly emotional time in the show last year when contestant Dhruv Gaur spent $1995 of his $2000 to write a note of affectionate encouragement to Trebek amidst his cancer battle.
It simply read, “What is: We love you, Alex,” accompanied by a drawing of a heart.
Instantly choked up by the unexpected gesture, Trebek replied, “That’s very kind. Thank you,” as an audible “Awww” from the audience echoed in the background.
“Cost you $1,995. You’re left with five bucks,” the 79-year-old added, clearly using every ounce of his strength to stop himself from breaking down on national TV.
“Jeopardy!” will continue to air episodes hosted by Trebek through Christmas 2020, but they have not yet announced plans for a new host.
Whoever it is, he/she will have some HUGE shoes to fill, as Trebek’s 40-year reign as “Jeopardy!” king has certainly left its mark on the hearts of America.
“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,” said “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards. “His constant desire to learn, his kindness, and his professionalism will be with all of us forever.”