Long time viewers of the popular quiz show Jeopardy! came together to mourn the death of host and TV icon Alex Trebek. After a battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Trebek passed away in his home surrounded by his loved ones on November 8 at the age of 80.
Jeopardy! host since 1984, Trebek first publicized his cancer diagnosis in a video announcement in March 2019. Trebek expressed that he planned to fight and continue hosting the show for as long as he could. The cancer diagnosis came months after Trebek’s contract renewal with Sony Pictures Television to continue hosting through 2022. October 29 marked his last in the studio, ten days before his death.
In a January interview during ABC’s What Is Jeopardy? special, Trebek acknowledged that he already envisioned what his final goodbye would look like for his last episode of the show.
“I’ve kind of, in my mind, rehearsed it already, and what I would do on that day is tell the director, ‘Time the show down to leave me 30 seconds at the end. That’s all I want,'” Trebek said. “And I will say my goodbyes and I will tell people: ‘Don’t ask me who’s going to replace me because I have no say whatsoever. But I’m sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me … then they will be a success and the show will continue being a success. And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye.’”
Fans of the show were deeply saddened by the news especially people who grew up watching Trebek on cable. Staff and crew also expressed their condolences to Trebek’s family and friends. Several contestants from the show expressed the impact the host had on their lives and for others, it was how they learned English. For Jeopardy! champion Burt Thakur, he got to tell Trebek in person.
“You know, here’s a true story, man. I grew up, I learned English because of you,” Thakur told Trebek. “And so, my grandfather, who raised me — I’m gonna get tears right now — I used to sit on his lap and watch you every day so it’s a pretty special moment for me, man.”
Setting a Guinness World Record for hosting the most episodes of a single game show, Trebek hosted nearly 37 seasons and more than 8,200 Jeopardy! episodes. He also won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host seven times and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Trebek’s last Jeopardy! episode is scheduled to air on December 25. The show has made no official announcements on who would become the replacement.