SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — Beloved ‘Jeopardy’ host Alex Trebek, who has been battling pancreatic cancer, has died of from the disease, game show officials tweeted Sunday morning. He was 80.
In a short statement on Twitter, the game show said: “Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex.”READ MORE: San Francisco DA Boudin Files Charges Against SF Sheriff’s Deputy Accused of Sexual Assault, Threats
Trebek, presided over the beloved quiz show for more than 30 years, was a master of the format, engaging in friendly banter with contestants and appearing genuinely pleased when they answered correctly.
He was also able to move the game along in a brisk no-nonsense fashion whenever people struggled for answers.
The Canadian-born Trebek was more than qualified for the job, having started his game show career on âReach for the Topâ in his native country.
Moving to the U.S. in 1973, he appeared on âThe Wizard of Odds,â âClassic Concentration,â âTo Tell the Truth,â âHigh Rollers,â âThe $128,000 Questionâ and âDouble Dare.â
The Canadian-born host, who made a point of informing fans about his health directly, spoke in a calm, even tone as he revealed his illness and hope for a cure in a video posted March 6, 2019.
In the video, Trebek said he was joining the 50,000 other Americans who receive such a diagnosis each year and that he recognized that the prognosis was not encouraging.
But Trebek said he intended to fight it and keep working, even joking that he needed to beat the disease because his âJeopardy!â contract ran for three more years. Less than a week later, he opened the show with a message acknowledging the outpouring of kind words and prayers heâd received.
âThanks to the â believe it or not â hundreds of thousands of people who have sent in tweets, texts, emails, cards and letters wishing me well,â Trebek said. âIâm a lucky guy.â
âJeopardy!â bills itself as âAmericaâs favorite quiz showâ and captivated the public with a unique format in which contestants were told the answers and had to provide the questions on a variety of subjects, including movies, politics, history and popular culture.
They would answer by saying âWhat is … ?â or âWho is …. ?â
Trebek, who became its host in 1984, was a master of the format, engaging in friendly banter with contestants, appearing genuinely pleased when they answered correctly and, at the same time, moving the game along in a brisk no-nonsense fashion whenever people struggled for answers.READ MORE: Los Gatos School Teacher Convicted Of Molesting Students Sued By Victim's Family
He never pretended to know the answers himself if he really didnât, deferring to the showâs experts to decide whether a somewhat vague answer had come close enough to be counted as correct.
âI try not to take myself too seriously,â he told an interviewer in 2004. âI donât want to come off as a pompous ass and indicate that I know everything when I donât.â
The show was the brainstorm of Juann Griffin, wife of the late talk show host-entrepreneur Merv Griffin, who said she suggested to him one day that he create a game show where people were given the answers.
âJeopardy!â debuted on NBC in 1964 with Art Fleming as emcee and was an immediate hit. It lasted until 1975, then was revived in syndication with Trebek.
Long identified by a full head of hair and trim mustache (though in 2001 he startled viewers by shaving his mustache, âcompletely on a whimâ), Trebek was more than qualified for the job, having started his game show career on âReach for the Topâ in his native country.
Moving to the U.S. in 1973, he appeared on âThe Wizard of Odds,â âHigh Rollers,â âThe $128,000 Questionâ and âDouble Dare.â Even during his run on âJeopardy!â, Trebek worked on other shows. In the early 1990s, he was the host of three â âJeopardy!â, âTo Tell the Truthâ and âClassic Concentration.â
âJeopardy!â made him famous. He won five Emmys as its host, and received stars on both the Hollywood and Canadian walks of fame. In 2012, the show won a prestigious Peabody Award.
He taped his daily âJeopardy!â shows at a frenetic pace, recording as many as 10 episodes (two weeksâ worth) in just two days. After what was described as a mild heart attack in 2007, he was back at work in just a month.
He posted a video in January 2018 announcing heâd undergone surgery for blood clots on the brain that followed a fall heâd taken. The show was on hiatus during his recovery.
It had yet to bring in a substitute host for Trebek â save once, when he and âWheel of Fortuneâ host Pat Sajak swapped their TV jobs as an Aprilâs Fool prank.
In 2012, Trebek acknowledged that he was considering retirement, but had been urged by friends to stay on so he could reach 30 years on the show. He still loved the job, he declared: âWhatâs not to love? You have the security of a familiar environment, a familiar format, but you have the excitement of new clues and new contestants on every program. You canât beat that!â
Although many viewers considered him one of the key reasons for the showâs success, Trebek himself insisted he was only there to keep things moving.MORE NEWS: UPDATE: 'Non-Specific' Online Threat Shuts Down San Francisco State Campus
âIâm introduced as the host of âJeopardy!,â not the star,â he said in a 2012 interview. âMy job is to provide the atmosphere and assistance to the contestants to get them to perform at their very best,â he explained. âAnd if Iâm successful doing that, I will be perceived as a nice guy and the audience will think of me as being a bit of a star.â