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Alex Trebek, Jeopardy! quiz show host , dies aged 80

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 08/11/2020 Luke O'Reilly
(Video by Reuters)


American quiz show presenter Alex Trebek, who hosted Jeopardy! for more than 30 years, has died aged 80.

Mr Trebek, who announced in 2019 that he had advanced pancreatic cancer, died at his California home on Sunday, surrounded by family and friends, Jeopardy! studio Sony said.

Jeopardy! bills itself as “America’s favourite quiz show” and captivated the public with a unique format in which contestants were told the answers and had to provide the questions on a variety of subjects, including films, politics, history and popular culture.

Alex Trebek wearing a suit and tie: Mr Trebek died after a battle with pancreatic cancerGetty Images © Provided by Evening Standard

Mr Trebek died after a battle with pancreatic cancer

Getty Images

Mr Trebek, who became its host in 1984, was a master of the format, engaging in friendly banter with contestants, appearing genuinely pleased when they answered correctly and, at the same time, moving the game along in a brisk no-nonsense fashion whenever people struggled for answers.

He never pretended to know the answers himself if he really did not, deferring to the show’s experts to decide whether a vague answer had come close enough to be counted as correct.

“I try not to take myself too seriously,” he told an interviewer in 2004. “I don’t want to come off as a pompous a** and indicate that I know everything when I don’t.”

Alex Trebek wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Evening Standard

The Canadian-born host, who made a point of informing fans about his health directly, spoke about his illness and his hope for a cure in a video posted on March 6 2019.

In the video, Mr Trebek said he was joining the 50,000 other Americans who receive such a diagnosis each year and that he recognised that the prognosis was not encouraging.

Gallery: People we lost in 2020 (Photo Services)


But Mr Trebek said he intended to fight it and keep working, even joking that he needed to beat the disease because his Jeopardy! contract ran for three more years.

Less than a week later, he opened the show with a message acknowledging the outpouring of kind words and prayers he had received.

Jeopardy! was the brainstorm of Juann Griffin, wife of the late talk show host-entrepreneur Merv Griffin, who said she suggested to him one day that he create a game show where people were given the answers.

The show debuted on NBC in 1964 with Art Fleming as emcee and was an immediate hit. It lasted until 1975, then was revived in syndication with Mr Trebek.

Mr Trebek won five Emmys as the host of Jeopardy! and received stars on both the Hollywood and Canadian walks of fame. In 2012, the show won a prestigious Peabody Award.

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