Alex Trebek, beloved host of 'Jeopardy!' since 1984, dies at 80

Alex Trebek on Jeopardy
(Image credit: Eric McCandless/Getty Images)

The voice. The tone. The clues, the facts, and year after year of daily doubles. Alex Trebek was Jeopardy!, having taken over the quiz show that caused millions of us at home and on stage to answer in the form of a question.

Trebek announced on March 6, 2019, that he had been diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. He fought for more than a year, keeping his viewers apprised of his condition.

Trek died on Nov. 8, 2020, with his family and friends by his side. The show's Twitter account announced his passing.

For a show as simple — and as difficult as — Jeopardy! is, Trebek managed to make everyone on stage feel as though they belonged. (And they did — the game show is not an easy one to make it on to.) Same goes for those of us at home, who would quickly blurt out answers only to be followed by "Oh, right. That's what it was."

The gist of Jeopardy! is that Trebek would present the answer, and the contestants would provide the answer — the question to the answer, that is — in the form of a question. It's devilishly clever, forcing the brain to do a bit of a flip.

After two rounds, contestants faced "Final Jeopardy" — one last question that could seal their fate.

On March 6, 2019, Trebek and Jeopardy uploaded a video to YouTube announcing Trebek's cancer diagnosis. "Just like 50,000 other people in the United States this year, this week I was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer," Trebek said. "Now, normally, the prognosis for this his not very encouraging. But I'm going to fight this. 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," he continued, "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."

It was that sort of deadpan humor that made Trebek such a beloved personality. That extended to Ken Jennings, who holds the record for the longest winning streak on the show at 74, and also is the highest earner on the game show, taking home more than $4.5 million.

Phil Nickinson

Phil spent his 20s in the newsroom of the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, his 30s on the road for and Mobile Nations and is the Dad part of Modern Dad.