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LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 09: "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek speaks as he is inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Broadcasting Hall of Fame during the NAB Achievement in Broadcasting Dinner at Encore Las Vegas on April 9, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NAB Show, the trade show of the National Association of Broadcasters and the world's largest electronic media show, runs through April 12 and features more than 1,700 exhibitors and 102,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(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.

"Jeopardy!" contestant Ken Jennings said on Twitter Sunday he was thinking of Trebek's family and the "Jeopardy!" family, "which, in a way, included millions of us," he said.

"Alex wasn't just the best ever at what he did," Jennings wrote. "He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I'm grateful for every minute I got to spend with him."

Over 37 seasons, Trebek hosted more than 8,200 episodes of "Jeopardy!," the most by a presenter of any single TV game show, according to a statement from Sony Pictures.

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."

Trebek began hinting it might be time to retire in 2018, before agreeing to sign one last contract extension, which was to run through 2022.

Besides his hosting work, which included such shows as "Classic Concentration" and "High Rollers," Trebek was active as a philanthropist, taking part in USO Tours visiting US troops overseas and serving as a spokesman for various charities, including WorldVision.

One of the few public missteps in Trebek's career came when he tried his hand again at journalism, agreeing to moderate a Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate in 2018. Criticized for a performance that included talking more than either of the candidates, he subsequently apologized, saying he had been "naïve" about his role.

When Trebek announced his diagnosis in March 2019, tributes came from across the entertainment industry, including late-night host Stephen Colbert, who said, "Everybody loves Alex Trebek."

Jennings compared Trebek to CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, tweeting, "Alex Trebek is in a way the last Cronkite: authoritative, reassuring TV voice you hear every night, almost to the point of ritual."

Trebek is survived by his wife, Jean, who he married in 1990, and their two children, Emily and Matthew.

The-CNN-Wire

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