Longtime 'Jeopardy!' Host Alex Trebek Dies of Pancreatic Cancer at 80

Alex Trebek (WTHR YouTube channel)

Nearly a year and a half after being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek died Sunday, several news media outlets reported. He was 80.

Trebek died at his California home surrounded by family and friends, Jeopardy! studio Sony said.

ABC11.com in Los Angeles reported that when Trebek announced his diagnosis in March 2019, he said, "Normally the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I'm going to fight this, and I'm going to keep working," he said. "I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease."

Trebek had hosted the popular television game show, seen by an estimated 24 million viewers each week, for the past 36 years.

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 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.

This summer, Charisma News reported on the benevolence and compassion of Trebek and his wife, Jean. The Trebeks opened a housing facility for the homeless near his Hollywood neighborhood. The "Alex and Jean Trebek Community Room" offers temporary housing to men and women trying to get back on their feet.

Additionally, he was a long-time World Vision ambassador, joining the World Vision team in the 1908s.

Jean Trebek grew up Catholic and has a strong faith in God, according to this Guideposts article from July 2020.

Trebek, who began hosting Jeopardy! 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.

He never pretended to know the answers himself if he really didn't, deferring to the show's experts to decide whether a somewhat vague answer had come close enough to be counted as correct.

"I try not to take myself too seriously," he told an interviewer in 2004.

The show was the brainstorm of Julann 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.

Jeopardy! 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.

Portions of this story were excerpted from The Associated Press. © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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