Jeopardy! originally debuted as a daytime show in 1964 on NBC, but the version of the show that is currently on the air began running on September 10, 1984.
Over the years, current Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has become known for his time on the show, as he has hosted it for 36 years, but Trebek was not the first host of the show.
Currently, the show is re-airing old episodes with new introductions from Trebek since no new episodes have been filmed recently due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
‘Jeopardy’ First Began Airing in 1964
Before Alex Trebek took over the duties, the daytime gameshow show was hosted by Art Fleming for 11 years. That original run of the show was on the air from 1964 to 1975 but was ultimately canceled because NBC wanted to appeal to a younger demographic.
Jeopardy! was rebooted with Fleming as the host in 1978, but was unfortunately canceled just a few years later. Fleming died in 1995 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the same cancer that Alex Trebek is currently battling.
Trebek and the show’s announcer Johnny Gilbert have both been on the show since the reboot.
Trebek Became the Host in 1984
By 1994, the press was calling Trebek an “American Icon.” The show has won 35 Daytime Emmy Awards and holds the record for the most Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show with 15 awards in that category. Trebek himself holds six Emmy Awards and a star on both the Hollywood and Canada Walks of Fame.
On June 17, 2011, Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak, host of Wheel of Fortune, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony. In 2012, Jeopardy! was honored with a Peabody Award for its role in “encouraging, celebrating, and rewarding knowledge.”
Pat Sajak has also hosted the show; on April 1, 1997, Trebek and Sajak switched places for the day as an April fools’ joke. Trebek hosted Wheel of Fortune, and Sajak hosted Jeopardy!.
Though he may need to stop hosting Jeopardy! earlier than his contract ends due to health reasons, he is currently set to host the show until his contract is up in 2022. He has said he plans to continue hosting the show until his skills diminish to a point where he can no longer comfortably host or he feels as though his presence is hindering the show.
Trebek announced that he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer on March 6, 2019. His treatment causes sores inside the mouth, which makes it difficult for him to enunciate words properly in some cases. He has said he already notices the issues when he’s filming episodes.
The host is currently being treated for his disease, and in July 2020, he said that he will not go through another round of treatment if his current round does not work.