Though fatigued and ailing, he was surrounded by love. RIP
The small screen industry woke up on Sunday, November 8, 2020, to the terrible news that the beloved host of Jeopardy! was no more. Alex Trebek, a household name in homes across America, breathed his last after a severe battle with cancer. The news was announced on the official Twitter handle of Jeopardy!
Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex. pic.twitter.com/Yk2a90CHIM— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) November 8, 2020
Passing away at the age of 80, Trebek had been battling pancreatic cancer for a while. He had publicly announced his diagnosis, almost 20 months ago before his death, in March 2019. According to the announcement tweet, Trebek was surrounded by family when he passed. Which seems to be exactly how he wanted to spend his final days, as per his memoir, The Answer Is...: Reflections on My Life. In the book, what he wanted more than anything was to be with his family during his last days.
"Here I am wanting to enjoy what might be the last of my days, and, what, I'm supposed to just stay at home and sit in a chair and stare into space? Actually, that doesn't sound too bad," Trebek wrote, as per Looper. "Yep, I'll be perfectly content if that's how my story ends: sitting on the swing with the woman I love, my soul mate, and our two wonderful children nearby."
That's not all he did though. He continued shooting for the show until October 29, just ten days before his death. According to New York Times, he said that the chemotherapy made him feel unwell, taping for Jeopardy! made him feel stronger. "Oddly enough, when we started taping I suddenly started to regain my strength. It’s the strangest thing. It is some kind of an elixir." This is just goes to show how committed he was to the show till the very end.
However, it is important to note that while Trebek was part of the show for a whopping 37 seasons and hosted more than 8,200 episodes, according to CNN, Jeopardy! was never his first love. His family, consisting of wife Jean Currivan Trebek, and their two children, Matthew and Emily, as well as his adopted daughter Nicky from his first marriage, have that honor.
Especially his wife, who he has praised and for whom he has expressed his deep, eternal love publicly many times.
In an exclusive with People in January 2019, Trebek had said the time he had with his wife wasn't enough. “But my wife Jean and I have been together almost 29 years, and I was thinking about President Bush when he died, and all the comments about his life about what a nice guy he is, and how he and his wife had been together 73 years. I thought, oh my gosh … if I’d just met Jean in my 20s we could have had a longer life together.” He also quipped, "I guess if I’d met her when I was in my 20s she wouldn’t have been born yet. But hey, 29 years is pretty good!"
Trebek also spoke of Jean when he gave his one year health update on Twitter, in March 2020. He expressed how she was the reason he kept fighting the malady. "There were moments of great pain, days when certain bodily functions no longer functioned, and sudden, massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it really was worth fighting on."
Continuing, he said, "But I brushed that aside quickly because that would have been a massive betrayal. A betrayal of my wife and soulmate, Jean, who has given her all to help me survive."
Trebek often admitted how unwell the cancer and the treatments made him feel. In a video update in July 2020, he revealed he was continuing treatment and that he was feeling good, although he added that the process did "fatigue me a great deal."
We hope he can eternally rest now. His final episode of Jeopardy! will be aired on Christmas Day.
"I believe laughter is one of the greatest cures that we can possibly have." #AlexTrebek said in a 2019 interview he wants to be remembered as a "nice man" who "helped people through his charity work" and was "kind to everybody he encountered." https://t.co/FkuEt7ZwkS pic.twitter.com/l1xahKfZPy— 20/20 (@ABC2020) November 9, 2020