Alex Trebek, whose decades as host of the quiz show “Jeopardy!” made him one of the most popular fixtures on American television, died on Sunday at age 80.
Trebek had waged a very public struggle against pancreatic cancer for nearly two years, but continued taping his program until recently.
His death was announced on Twitter from the “Jeopardy!” account, which stated Trebek” passed away peacefully at home early this afternoon, surrounded by family and friends,” adding, “Thank you, Alex.”
CNN media analyst Brian Stelter known as Trebek “the best game show host of his creation… You constantly observed, and you came out brighter”
Even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted his condolences to the family of the Canadian-born Trebek.
“We have lost an icon,” he explained. “Almost every night for at least three decades, Alex Trebek amused and educated millions around the world, instilling in so many of us a love for trivia.”
Trebek, who became a US citizen in 1998, had hosted “Jeopardy!” since 1984.
– A 36-year run –
He hosted other game shows, including “Double Dare” and “Classic Concentration,” and hosting the National Geographic Bee for 25 decades.
But it was his time at “Jeopardy!” — a 36-year run nearly unheard of by television standards — along with his clear wisdom, gentlemanly aplomb and sly good humor that brought him the eternal devotion of millions of viewers.
He won a ton of awards. Trebek was a five-time day Emmy Award winner. He had a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He was so deeply immersed in American popular culture that Trebek — or his imitators — appeared in a lot of films and TV shows; comic Will Ferrell played him on “Saturday Night Live”; he once even attracted headlines by shaving his signature moustache.
Sometimes two or even three generations of viewers would gather prior to televisions to watch him.
One contestant, Burt Thakur, grew tearful on a recently aired episode when he told Trebek just how, as a little child in India, he saw the show on his grandfather’s lap.
“I recognized English due to you. And therefore, my buddy who raised me I’m likely to get tears appropriate now – I used to take a chair on his lap and see one daily.
– Cancer diagnosis –
Trebek received a flood of encouraging email after announcing his Stage 4 cancer. “I will fight this,” he told his fans. Many wrote to inform him they were inspired by his battle.
He’d had previously health scares, such as two heart attacks and also a bad automobile accident, but always came back.
George Alexander Trebek was born on July 22, 1940, in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. His dad was a Ukrainian immigrant; his mother a French-speaking Canadian.
Having a degree in philosophy in hand, he moved to work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1961; by 1966 he had been hosting a high school quiz show.
Trebek moved to the United States in 1973 to host a new NBC game show, “The Wizard of Odds.”
He took over the reins at “Jeopardy!” in 1984 when a friend of his, original host Art Fleming, declined to return.
Trebek held the record for the most game show episodes hosted with the same presenter, in 6,829, according to Variety.
“You work hard, you do your best,” he said with typical modesty at one awards show.
Trebek and his wife Jean Currivan have two Children.