Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek succumbs to cancer at age 80

Alex Trebek, in his first hosting job on CBC's Music Hop, circa 1963.

Alex Trebek succumbed to pancreatic cancer early Sunday morning. The Sudbury, ON-native was 80.

The long-running Jeopardy! host went public with his Stage 4 diagnosis back in March 2019. He last posted a health update in July saying he was “feeling great” while continuing treatment and that it was “paying off, though it does fatigue me a great deal.”

His last day in the studio was Oct. 29, according to Sony, with Jeopardy! episodes featuring Trebek to continuing airing through Dec. 25.

Alex Trebek

Trebek’s broadcasting career started at the CBC where he worked nights while pursuing a philosophy degree from the University of Ottawa. He made the jump from radio and TV news to hosting in 1963 with Music Hop, followed by hosting turns on high school quiz show, Reach For The Top, and Canadian game show, Strategy.

Moving stateside in 1973, he established himself as a game show host on programs including NBC’s The Wizard of Odds, High RollersCBS show Double Dare, and syndicated series The $128,000 Question, which taped in Toronto.

He began hosting Jeopardy! in 1984 and more than 8,000 episodes later holds the Guinness World Record for “the most gameshow episodes hosted by the same presenter (same program).” He won his sixth and seventh Daytime Emmy Awards for Jeopardy! in 2019 and 2020, respectively, in addition to a 2011 Lifetime Achievement Emmy. Also an inductee of the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and the Library of American Broadcasting, Trebek was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017.

The University of Ottawa, which Trebek donated generously to and helped establish the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue and Alex Trebek Alumni Hall, among other initiatives, issued a statement saying the host never forgot his alma mater.

“The world knew Alex as the charismatic host of Jeopardy!, but here at uOttawa we knew Alex as an engaged and engaging man, a unique and caring individual who dedicated his philanthropy to the creation and sustaining of programs to promote civic dialogue,” the university stated. “Alex spent many years sharing the right questions with the world on Jeopardy!. It is fitting that his gifts will allow future generations of students at uOttawa to continue asking the right questions, and finding important new answers that benefit us all.”


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