Game show host faces grim fight with typical class

Thursday, March 7, 2019

A native of Canada and naturalized U.S. citizen, Alex Trebek once hosted three game shows at once, but he will forever be associated with “Jeopardy,” which he has hosted since 1984.

With class and composure that surprised no one, Trebek, 78, announced in a YouTube video Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

“Now, normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working,” he said in the video. “And with the love and support of my family and friends, and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rates statistics for this disease.”

After a leave of absence in January 2018 after surgery to remove blood clots from his brain, he renewed his contract with Sony Pictures Television to continue to host the quiz show through 2022.

In case stage 4 pancreatic cancer doesn’t sound familiar, it’s the same disease that claimed Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze and Aretha Franklin in recent years.

Ken Jennings, who had the longest winning streak on his show, calls Trebek “an institution like Walter Cronkite.”

“I’ve said this before, but Alex Trebek is in a way the last Cronkite: authoritative, reassuring TV voice you hear every night, almost to the point of ritual,” Jennings said. “One thing I know for a fact: Alex is very aware of how much he means to millions of people, and how we will be pulling for him ... I hope that’s a comfort.”

How did a game show host come to have such a significant place in American culture?

Jennings’ comparison of Trebek to Cronkite is appropriate — both delivered clear, decisive answers to puzzling, difficult questions in a brief, half-hour format. That’s a refreshing relief from the convoluted analysis and inevitable opinion that the results from the need to fill 24 hours of broadcast news.

“He graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in philosophy in 1961, covered events as varied as horse-racing and curling for the CBC and went on to be one of America’s most respected television personalities.”

Answer: Who is Alex Trebek.

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