TV icon Alex Trebek, who for decades made must-watch TV out of delivering answers in the form of a question with his long-running and highly-rated game show, “Jeopardy,” has died after a publicized bout with pancreatic cancer.
The iconic host died “peacefully” at home Sunday morning, surrounded by family and friends, the game show said in a statement.
Trebek, who bravely recorded episodes of the popular show even in the midst of painful cancer treatments personified the program, even though it debuted in 1964, a full 20 years before he took over.
Trebek’s rebooted version became an evening staple in homes across the country with families playing along with “Daily Doubles” and “Final Jeopardy” to match wits with buzzer-banging contestants.
Under Trebek’s watch, “Jeopardy” earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, six Emmy Awards, and the Guinness World Record for Most Game Show Episodes Hosted by the Same Person.
But 2019 became Trebek’s most challenging year behind the “Jeopardy” desk. On March 4, he shared a video on YouTube and announced his cancer diagnosis.
“Just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer,” he told his fans.. “I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease. Truth told, I have to because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy for three more years.”
But Trebek, who taped some shows with a hair piece, would later admit that he was “writhing in pain” some days between tapings.
Later that season, “Jeopardy” ratings spiked as professional sports gambler James Holzhauer amassed more than $2.4 million during his 33 appearances — an eye-popping average of $74,673 per episode.
Ratings rose about 30% during Holzhauer’s run and nearly 15 million viewers tuned in to watch him lose.
“He has no weaknesses. . . . He has a strategy,” Trebek said during Holzhauer’s run. “He’s a gambler.”
George Alexander Trebek was born July 22, 1940 in Greater Sudbury, Ontario. Trebek earned a degree in philosophy from the University of Ottawa, where he was a member of the English Debating Society.
Trebek was interested in a career in broadcasting, and before he completed his degree, he took a job with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, reading the national news among other duties.
Trebek’s first American exposure was as host of “The Wizard of Odds,” a series that lasted only one season. Three days after its final episode, he began hosting the dice-based game show “High Rollers.” This time, producers teamed him with co-host — actress Ruta Lee — and their engaging rapport was a hit with audiences.
SOURCE: NY DAILY NEWS