• Liam McDougal

Alex Trebek: In Memoriam

Last month one of the most iconic, positive, and recognizable presences in the entertainment world was lost: Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek sadly passed away November 8 earlier this year after a very public battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80-years-old.

Trebek, who was originally from Canada, got his start in broadcasting at the young age of 27 working for the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) while still going to college. During his time with the CBC he worked on and covered a lot of diverse topics in many different broadcasting forms. He also hosted a few game shows for a short while, such as Reach for the Top and Strategy. Eventually, he moved on to NBC, where hosted a few more game shows, such as Double Dare and The Wizard of Odds. In 1984, he was asked to become the host of the game show Jeopardy!, which was actually a reboot of the original show from the late 60’s and 70’s. Trebek remained the host for the rest of his life (36 years), even right up until his passing. He recorded his last episodes about two weeks before he passed away. The episodes are set to air in the first week of January in 2021.

Trebek had a reputation for being one of the nicest and most positive people in the entertainment industry. I came across many stories in my research about how kind and charismatic he acted towards both the contestants and the audience, even when the cameras weren’t rolling for the show. He always talked with the contestants to make sure they felt welcomed and ready to give their best shot on the show. That positivity also always shined through the TV screen and was apparent even to those watching Jeopardy! from home. There are many, many great clips from the show of him having fun with the contestants, and he always made watching a show about knowing potentially boring scholarly facts very fun to watch. The show was simply formated, and he helped make it entertaining, informative, and just a positive experience overall.

Last year on March 6, the Jeopardy! team uploaded this video to their YouTube channel, titled “A Message From Alex Trebek.” In it Trebek publicly announced that he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. Trebek was known to be somewhat private for a public figure, but he wanted to be transparent to the Jeopardy! fans and prevent any incorrect rumors from starting. He also acknowledged the lower survival rates of stage four pancreatic cancer patients, but he still remained his positive, assuring, and firm self. After his diagnosis and while pushing through the difficult treatment, he continued to host the show. He provided many updates on how his treatment was going, including that he did lose his hair due to the painful and difficult chemotherapy treatment process. He also was able to publish his memoir in July, titled “The Answer Is…”

Since Trebek was such a beloved and well known public figure, he was able to bring a lot of positive attention and awareness to pancreatic cancer and its victims. He frequently discussed the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, and even teamed up with World Pancreatic Cancer Day to make this PSA talking about some of the symptoms. He helped people become more aware to the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, and encouraged people who had experienced symptoms to get checked out so that they could get diagnosed early enough and have a better chance of survival. More information about pancreatic cancer can be found here.

Despite his hard-fought battle, the outpouring of love and support, and his success in bringing more awareness to pancreatic cancer, Alex Trebek did sadly pass away this year. He leaves behind a very recognizable legacy of being a beam of positivity on people’s televisions, and as one of, if not the most, iconic game show hosts. The Jeopardy! YouTube channel uploaded this video on November 9, a day after Trebek’s passing, in remembrance of him.

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