Long-time Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek died on Sunday at the age of 80 after battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer for more than a year.
Trebek was diagnosed in March 2019 and has been very public about both his diagnosis and the state of his health along the way, periodically releasing videos to update his fans. He had been taping episodes through October 29, which was his last day in the studio, and episodes featuring Trebek will air through Christmas Day.
“This is an enormous loss for the Jeopardy! staff, crew and all of Alex’s millions of fans. He was a legend of the industry that we were all lucky to watch night after night for 37 years,” said Mike Richards, executive producer of Jeopardy! in a statement.
“Working beside him for the past year and a half as he heroically continued to host Jeopardy! was an incredible honor. 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. His constant desire to learn, his kindness, and his professionalism will be with all of us forever.”
The show is not announcing plans for a new host at this time, although there have been reports that Jeopardy!’s winningest player of all time, Ken Jennings, is a potential candidate to take over the role. Jennings was named a consulting producer on the show in September.
On Sunday, Jennings tweeted:
Alex wasn’t just the best ever at what he did. He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I’m grateful for every minute I got to spend with him. pic.twitter.com/CdHCcbqmp2
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) November 8, 2020
Similarly, James Holzhauer, who drove Jeopardy! to new ratings highs with his daring play style during his 32-game run in spring 2019, tweeted:
It was one of the great privileges of my life to spend time with this courageous man while he fought the battle of his life. You will never be replaced in our hearts, Alex. https://t.co/LLoUASRMa9
— James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) November 8, 2020
Other tributes began pouring out as soon as the news broke.
Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger said: “Today we mourn the loss of Alex Trebek. A friend, a colleague, an icon…He graced us with his kindness, warmth, wit and pure elegance, which is why we welcomed him into our homes night after night, year after year. He also showed us what courage looks like as he battled cancer with dignity and determination. We are deeply saddened for his wife Jean, his family, and millions of Jeopardy fans.”
The ABC-owned television stations, which are owned by Disney, have served as Jeopardy!‘s home in the country’s biggest markets—including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago—since the show launched.
CBS Television Distribution distributes Jeopardy! to stations and on Sunday, CTD President Steve LoCascio said: “Words can’t even describe what a tremendous loss this is for our Jeopardy! family. Not only was Alex a television icon, but he was one of the most genuine, kind, caring people you could ever know. The way he openly and bravely battled cancer, while continuing to host the show, was a true inspiration. He has brought joy to the millions of fans – including generations of families—who have welcomed Alex into their living room each night. Our hearts go out to Alex’s wife and children. We have truly lost a legend.”
Trebek has hosted Jeopardy! since it made its syndicated debut in 1984, taking the show through nearly 37 seasons and setting a Guinness World Record for hosting the most episodes of a single game show. He won the Daytime Emmy for outstanding game-show host seven times and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award (along with Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak) from the National Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011. He and the show also won a Peabody Award that year. In 2013, he was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. He and Jeopardy! were both inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters’ Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2018. That year, Trebek was a keynote speaker at Promax Station Summit in Las Vegas.
Trebek was born in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and hosted dozens of game shows before becoming the host of Jeopardy! He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Jean, and children Matthew, Emily and Nicky. Gifts in Trebek’s memory should be directed to humanitarian organization World Vision International.