Alex Trebek’s Legacy

Natalie Bachman

In the early morning of November 8, 2020, Alex Trebek, host of Jeopardy, died of stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Jeopardy, produced by Sony Pictures, is an age-old quiz show, in which 3 contestants answer a variety of trivia questions in a broad range of topics. The winner of a round goes on to compete the next night, and so on until they are defeated.

The news regarding Trebek’s passing was not entirely shocking to the world, though. In March of 2019, Trebek opened up regarding his diagnosis. He did admit that the prognosis wasn’t exactly encouraging, yet he continued to fight.

Amid his diagnosis, Trebek managed to turn his devastation into advocacy. He partnered with the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition to film a video PSA. It was aimed at the recognition of symptoms and awareness. He wore a purple tie – a color representing advocacy to fight the illness. In the video, Trebek admitted that he wished he had known sooner, and urged others to join him in a fight against the disease.

Several months later, his doctors revealed that he was doing rather well, so much so that he resumed taping the current season. But, a sudden relapse soon followed.

Earlier this year, Trebek published his autobiography, “The Answer Is…: Reflections On My Life”, the title being an allusion to one of his signature lines. Throughout the memoir, he reflected on his career, and life in general. He frequently expressed gratitude, and remained rather humble. As he mentioned, “Viewers have gotten used to having me there, not so much as a showbiz personality but as an uncle. I’m part of the family more than an outside celebrity who comes into your home to entertain you. They find me comforting and reassuring as opposed to being impressed by me.”

This goes to demonstrate Trebek’s venerable and unassertive character. To him, being on Jeopardy wasn’t a matter of fame or riches, but of simply doing what he loved. People became accustomed to seeing his face every night, so much so, that nobody will be able to truly replace Trebek.

Amid the tragedy, a major question arose regarding  who the new host will be. Sony Pictures, the company that produces Jeopardy, announced that they would not yet reveal who the new host would be. But at the moment, they seemingly intend to continue filming.

Some fans have been speculating Ken Jennings, the recent winner of Jeopardy’s “Greatest Of All Time” (G.O.A.T) championship, and the record holder for most consecutive wins. Jennings has served as a consulting producer for the show. Even prior to Trebek’s passing, many believed that he was being “groomed” for this position. Ironically, he was selected as a temporary host. It has not yet been revealed whether or not he will be given the opportunity to serve as host full-time.

Jeopardy has been one of America’s longest running television shows, and is a stamp of history for many. Several generations grew up with the show, both the later, and the newer. Trebek’s legacy will always be a part of Jeopardy; only time will tell whether that legacy will be fulfilled.

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