The staff of long-running TV game show Jeopardy confirmed on Sunday that its beloved host Alex Trebek has passed away. He was 80 years old.
While the announcement did not go into details, other than confirming he passed on Sunday in the presence of family and friends, Trebek had previously been transparent with fans about his stage-four pancreatic cancer diagnosis, using YouTube to tell fans directly about the news in March 2019. At the time, he said he chose to speak to fans via YouTube “to prevent you from reading or hearing some overblown or inaccurate reports.”
Since then, Trebek went on to continue hosting the series between rounds of treatment, posting regular updates to Jeopardy‘s YouTube account. The last such message came in July of this year, which confirmed that the show’s regular production had been put on hold due to COVID-19 precautions. This allowed him, among other things, to write a memoir that came out shortly after that last YouTube message: The Answer is… Reflections on my Life.
The July announcement to fans cited positive factors: “I’m doing well. I’ve been continuing my treatment, and it is paying off, though it does fatigue me a great deal. My numbers are good, and I’m feeling great.” His July memoir, meanwhile, was more frank about the struggles he faced during cancer treatment, including symptoms of depression. Incredibly, that book was published only four months after Trebek began writing it—a hasty decision driven in part by another memoir being scheduled to publish around the time of Trebek’s 80th birthday.
“One thing they’re not going to say at my funeral as part of the eulogy is, ‘He was taken from us too soon,'” Trebek wrote in his memoir. “I’m about to turn 80. I’ve lived a good, full life.” That fullness included a Guinness World Record awarded in 2014 for longest-running game show host. At the time, that tally, starting with his takeover of the series in its 1984 reboot, counted 6,829 episodes, a number he went on to pad even through 2020.
While we at Ars Technica appreciate what Trebek meant by that statement, we are saddened by today’s news, as serious appreciators of Trebek’s insistence on facts, science, humor, and a mustache, and send our best to his family and loved ones.
For more information about pancreatic cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.