Jeopardy! quiz show host Alex Trebek dies aged 80

Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek (AP)
19:36pm, Sun 08 Nov 2020
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Alex Trebek who presided over the American quiz show 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.

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.

Alex Trebek (AP)

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.

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! 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.

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 ass and indicate that I know everything when I don’t.”

The show was the brainstorm of Julann 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.

Jeopardy! 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 Trebeck 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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