The world was saddened to learn on Sunday morning that beloved Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 80. News of Trebek's passing was announced via the long-running game show's Twitter account with the following statement: "Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex." Trebek was married to Elaine Callei (now Elaine Trebek Kares) from 1974 until their divorce in 1981 and is survived by his second wife, Jean, and their two adult children, Emily and Matthew.
In March 2019, Trebek revealed via video that he had been diagnosed with Stage Four pancreatic cancer. In March of this year, he opened up about the intensive year he's had – from the "highs" of the love and support he'd received from around the world to the "lows" of chemotherapy's impact – but still remained positive as he proudly revealed that he was part of the 18% that have survived the first year. Trebek admitted that he had thoughts about giving up, but viewed that as a "betrayal" to his wife and family, his millions of fans, and to his faith in God.
"Hi everyone, I have some news to share with all of you and it's in keeping with my longtime policy of being open and transparent with our Jeopardy! fan base. I also wanted to prevent you from reading or hearing some overblown or inaccurate reports regarding my health. So therefore, I wanted to be the one to pass along this information.
Now, 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. Truth told, I have to! Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years! So help me. Keep the faith and we'll win. We'll get it done. Thank you."
Having hosted the Merv Griffin-created game show since 1984, Trebek would go on to win five Daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding game show host. In 2011, Trebek received a Peabody Award for "encouraging, celebrating and rewarding knowledge." Trebek also holds the Guinness World Record for the most game show episodes hosted by the same host (same program) since June 13, 2014 (with a total of 6,829 episodes of Jeopardy! hosted), replacing the previous record-holder, Bob Barker. Trebek discussed the possibility of retiring in 2018 but would go on to sign a contract extension that would keep him in the Jeopardy hosting spot through the 2021-2022 season. In 2018, Trebek took a medical leave to have surgery for blood clots on his brain that resulted from a fall. In 2007 and 2012, Trebek suffered mild heart attacks that also required treatment.
Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex. pic.twitter.com/Yk2a90CHIM
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) November 8, 2020