TV & Showbiz

Remembering ‘Jeopardy’ Host Alex Trebek: 1940-2020

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‘Jeopardy’ host Alex Trebek died early Sunday morning after a public battle with Stage IV pancreatic cancer, show executives confirmed.

Alex Trebek died Sunday at age 80, TMZ reported.

The celebrity news outlet reported that a representive of Jeopardy, the answer-and-question game Trebek hosted for more than 35 years, confirmed the news.

The show confirmed it on its official Twitter account:

Trebek announced in March 2019 his Stage IV pancreatic cancer diagnosis. He tod shocked cans in a YouTube video of the battle he faced:

He said, in part:

Just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working. And with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.

There seemed to be hope in May of 2019, when he told People his tumors had shrunk by 50%. He said he responded well to chemotherapy. And he became an inspiration for his fight against the horrible disease.

But deep down, we knew pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease. The American Cancer Society said the 5-year survival rate for Stage IV pancreatic cancer is only about nine percent.

But fans ran with Trebek’s optimism and hoped he’d be in that nine percent. By all accounts, he gave it a valiant fight.

A perfect match for his show

Once in a while, an emcee comes along who just seems a perfect fit for a particular game show. I pointed that out in a 2019 post listing 13 game show hosts from the 1970s who were still with us. From that list, we’ve lost Trebek, Regis Philbin and Tom Kennedy this year.

Bob Barker was a perfect fit for The Price is Right. Gene Rayburn was the perfect fit for the wild and zany Match Game. And Trebek, with his stable, serious demeanor that occasionally stepped aside to reveal a rapier wit, served as a perfect fit for Merv Griffin’s creation called Jeopardy.

Many game show fans knew Trebeck long before the current syndicated version of Jeopardy hit the airwaves in 1984.

The first time I saw him was in the mid-1970s when he hosted High Rollers on NBC with hostess Ruta Lee. Here’s the July 4, 1975, episode, one of the few known to still exist, with a little mishap with Lee in the opening:

The Canadian-born Trebek hosted his first show, a music program, in 1963. His first quiz show, also on Canadian TV, Reach for the Top, came in 1966.

He moved to the United States and hosted his first American game show, The Wizard of Odds, in 1973. He would later host two versions of High Rollers, Double Dare, Battlestars and Classic Concentration. He also hosted an odd-little game called Pitfall with a line of elevators contestants had to navigate. The production company for that show went bankrupt and Trebek said it was the only show that ever stiffed him.

But 1984’s Jeopardy brought us another rare perfect marriage of host and show. Before Alex Trebek, Ameica associated Art Fleming with the show.

But for generations, that association will only be Trebek.

He planned a 30-second farewell

Earlier this year, Trebek told ABC News that when it came time to step down from the show, he would ask for just 30 seconds at the end of his final show.

In that 30 seconds, he said, he’d thank all the people he wanted to thank. He even said he’d already rehearsed his on-air goodbye.

He also planned to say he has no idea who would replace him.

“But I’m sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me…then they will be a success and the show will continue being a success,” he planned to say. “And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye.”

Trebek reportedly recorded enough episodes to last roughly through Christmas. But as far as we know so far, he didn’t get a chance to make the goodbye speech.

Until we meet again, Mr. Trebek, thank you for the memories.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.