Legendary game show host Alex Trebek, who presided over “Jeopardy!” for more than three decades, died Sunday morning at the age of 80. Many prominent people paid tribute to Trebek, who had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer last March.
“Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex,” reads a statement on the game show’s Facebook page.
“We have lost an icon,” wrote Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his Facebook page, about the death of the Canadian-American quizmaster who was a longtime spokesperson for Christian humanitarian group World Vision.
“Almost every night for more than three decades, Alex Trebek entertained and educated millions with his quick wit, wry jokes, and his seemingly endless knowledge,” Trudeau wrote. “He was a part of memorable moments both on ‘Jeopardy!’ and in living rooms around the world, as friends and families huddled to watch the latest episode.”
World Vision President and CEO Edgar Sandoval Sr. mourned for the loss of a "long-time partner and friend who joined with us in showing God’s unconditional love to those in greatest need."
"Alex was a champion of those in poverty, partnering with World Vision for four decades and helping millions by bringing attention to their plight"
Trebek began partnering with World Vision during the Ethiopia famine in the 1980s.
"Over the years, despite his busy schedule, Alex found time to visit some of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time, bringing attention to the issue of poverty," said Sandoval. "He not only gave his name and notoriety; he and his wife Jean generously donated to life-saving projects in several countries, changing the lives of the families who lived there. We remember him dearly as someone full of humor, a keen wit, an open heart, and genuine love for those suffering and in need. He will be deeply missed. We send our condolences and are praying for his family.”
Bob Iger, executive chairman of Walt Disney Co., also paid tribute.
“He graced us with his kindness, warmth, wit and pure elegance, which is why we welcomed him into our homes night after night, year after year," Iger said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "He also showed us what courage looks like as he battled cancer with dignity and determination. We are deeply saddened for his wife Jean, his family, and millions of Jeopardy fans.”
Sony Pictures wrote: “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.”
Steve LoCascio, president of CBS Television Distribution, said, “Words can’t even describe what a tremendous loss this is for our JEOPARDY! family. Not only was Alex a television icon, but he was one of the most genuine, kind, caring people you could ever know.”
In his new memoir, The Answer Is ... Reflections on My Life, Trebek admitted that he was not afraid of death nor did he believe in a specific God or afterlife.
The book was released in July and in it the 80-year-old TV personality was honest about the emotional toll his bout with pancreatic cancer had had on him.
Trebek wrote that his ability to overcome his diagnosis “is simple biology. You get treatment and you get better. Or you don’t. And neither outcome is an indication of your strength as a person.”
Cancer was not Trebek’s first health battle. In October 2017, he was diagnosed with subdural hematoma after hitting his head during a fall and underwent surgery the next day.
Trebek was a journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation before moving to the United States. In 1998, he became a U.S. citizen. He started hosting “Jeopardy!” in 1984 when ABC tapped him for the job.
He won five Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host over the course of his over 30 years on the air, according to Biography.com.