Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek loses battle with pancreatic cancer

Alex Trebek lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.
Alex Trebek lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. Photo credit: Getty

Alex Trebek, the esteemed host of the game show Jeopardy!, has died after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. 

The longtime philanthropist was 80 years old.

"Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends," a spokesperson for the show said in a statement, later posted on Twitter.

"Thank you Alex."

The multiple Emmy Award winner gained industry-wide respect as the affable host of the popular ABC show, which has achieved consistently high ratings throughout its decades-long run.

He confirmed his stage-four cancer diagnosis in March 2019, telling fans he would be "open and transparent" as he underwent treatment for the disease - jokingly adding his contract with Jeopardy! was dependent on his survival. 

Trebek continued to host the show while undergoing treatment, including chemotherapy. When the COVID-19 pandemic found a firm foothold in the United States earlier this year, filming continued without a studio audience to protect the immuno-compromised Trebek from the virus.

 In July, he issued a statement confirming he would refuse future treatment if the immunotherapy regimen was unsuccessful.

"I want everyone to know that I am optimistic about my current plan and thank them for their concerns," he wrote.

The Canadian-born presenter cut his teeth hosting several American game shows, such as The Wizard of Odds and High Rollers, before taking up his role on Jeopardy! in 1984. Over 36 years, Trebek hosted more than 8000 episodes.

Former Jeopardy! tournament of champions winner, Buzzy Cohen, was among the first to pay tribute to the long-standing host.

"Absolutely heartbreaking to lose someone who meant so much to so many. Even if this show hadn’t changed my life in so many ways, this loss would be immeasurable," he 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."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has offered his condolences to Trebek's family.

"We have lost an icon. Almost every night for more than three decades, Alex Trebek entertained and educated millions around the world," Trudeau said in a statement on Twitter.

"Today we lost a legend and a beloved member of the Sony Pictures family. For 37 amazing years, Alex Trebek was that comforting voice, that moment of escape and entertainment at the end of a long, hard day for millions of people around the world," Sony Pictures tweeted.

Trebek is the recipient of stars on Canada's Walk of Fame - the second game show host to be inducted - and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has been awarded seven Outstanding Game Show Host Emmy Awards, in 1989, 1990, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2019 and 2020 respectively.

He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 2016, received a Key to the City by the City of Ottawa.

He died peacefully on Sunday (local time) surrounded by his friends and family.