By Brian Lowry, CNN
(CNN) — Alex Trebek, the genial “Jeopardy!” host with all the answers and a reassuring presence in the TV game-show landscape for five decades, has died. He was 80 years old.
“Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” said a statement shared on the show’s Twitter account, Sunday. “Thank you, Alex.”
The cause of death was not immediately announced. Trebek revealed in March 2019 he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, triggering an outpouring of support and well wishes at the time.
Trebek made history in 2014 by hosting his 6,829th “Jeopardy!” episode — the most by a presenter of any single TV game show. But despite the 35 years he spent on ‘Jeopardy!’, the syndicated quiz show where answers are presented in the form of a question, Trebek wasn’t exactly an overnight success.
Born in Sudbury, Canada, he studied philosophy before becoming a journalist, working as a reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
In 1966, while still in his mid-20s, he switched from journalism to hosting game shows, starting with a quiz show titled ‘Reach for the Top’, and followed a few years later by another, ‘Jackpot’.
It wasn’t until 1984 that Trebek landed what turned out to be his big break, when producer-host Merv Griffin chose him to emcee a revival of ‘Jeopardy!’, which was paired with another hit game show, ‘Wheel of Fortune’.
The combination became a formidable block in the hour leading into prime time while earning Trebek five Daytime Emmy Awards for his role as host.
His longevity was reflected in a personal milestone, when he passed “The Price is Right’s” Bob Barker in the Guinness Book of Records as the person who had hosted the most game-show episodes.
In a 2014 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Trebek downplayed that honor, saying:
“I’m just enjoying what I’m doing, I’m happy to have a job. I like the show, I like the contestants and it pays well.”