Alex Trebek dead at 80

Game show host Alex Trebek poses on the set of the "Jeopardy!" Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational Tournament Show Taping on April 17, 2010 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

Legendary game show host Alex Trebek has died after a long battle with cancer.

Jeopardy! confirmed Trebek's death Sunday afternoon:

Trebek had started his 37th season as host of Jeopardy! this year. He announced a Stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis in March 2019.

According to the official “Jeopardy!” website, he currently holds a Guinness World Record for Most Game Show Episodes Hosted by the Same Presenter, with nearly 8,000 episodes of Jeopardy! on his resume. 

Trebek was born on July 22, 1940, in Sudbury, Canada, in northern Ontario. His mother was French Canadian and his father was a Ukrainian immigrant who worked as a chef. Trebek graduated from high school in 1957 and attended the University of Ottawa to study philosophy. 

Trebek would eventually change paths and pursue a career in journalism upon graduating college in 1961.

After college, Trebek worked as a newscaster and fill-in reporter with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC TV. Working in news helped him gain a quick, witty and improvisational skills that would later help him with his pursuit as a TV game show host. Trebek started hosting a Canadian music program called “Music Hop” in 1963 and hosted a high school quiz show in 1966 called “Reach for the Top.”

Known for his improvisational skills as well as his quick and smooth disposition, he would eventually make his American debut working for NBC hosting a new show called “The Wizard of Odds.” The show only lasted a single season. 

In 1984, Trebek joined the revival of the popular game show, “Jeopardy!”, which had been syndicated since 1964. The premise of the show consisted of three contestants, one of which was a returning champion. The contestants competed in a quiz game show divided into three rounds, the material of which offers clues that cover a wide variety of topics, including history and current events, the sciences, the arts, popular culture, literature and languages. There is often wordplay as well as puns in the category titles, a well-known attribute of the show. Contestants pick a clue ranging in price and must respond in the form of a question. 

Trebek also produced the show from 1984-1987, helping devise various tournaments for contestants ranging in age and skill.  Trebek would eventually go on to host the show for the next 30-plus years except for one April Fools’ Day episode in 1997 when he switched places with Wheel of Fortune host, Pat Sajak. 

“Jeopardy!” quickly became one of the most popular game shows in television history, and its smooth and sharp host, Trebek, would no doubt become a cultural icon. There have been countless references to Trebek in pop culture, such as parodies on the popular comedy sketch show “Saturday Night Live,” as well as appearances in “The Simpsons,” “The X-Files” and many other shows.

Trebek was no stranger to philanthropy and activism, either. He was heavily involved in multiple charitable organizations, including World Vision and Smile Train, which both serve children. Trebek and the “Jeopardy!” crew became heavily involved with United Service Organizations in 1995, appearing on several military bases throughout the world. 

In 1998, Trebek received the prestigious Bob Hope Entertainment Award. 

FOX News contributed to this report.

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