There’s a tragic connection between late Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek and the very first host of the popular trivia game show, Arthur Fleming. Fleming hosted the show between 1964 to 1975, with Trebek taking over the helm in 1984 and holding the position of host until his death in November 2020. The long-running game show recently hit a snag in finding a permanent replacement for Trebek, which got us thinking of all the similarities the beloved long-time host had with the show’s original man behind the podium.
Both Long Time Hosts Of ‘Jeopardy!’ Had This Eerie Connection
In a bizarre and somewhat eerie coincidence, two of Jeopardy’s longtime hosts both died of the same rare disease about 25 years apart. Arthur Fleming was the host of the first three versions of Jeopardy!, where fans could catch him for 11 years between 1964 and 1975. The actor, who also appeared in such hit movies and TV shows as Airplane II and Starsky and Hutch, died in April 1995 from pancreatic cancer. If that sounds familiar, that’s because Alex Trebek also passed away following a drawn-out battle with the same disease.
Only about 50,000 people a year are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The National Cancer Institute defines “rare cancers” as affecting fewer than 15 out of 100,000. With pancreatic cancer affecting only 13 out of 100,000 people, that makes it incredibly rare indeed. To have two hosts of the same show afflicted by the exact same disease is definitely a strange coincidence.
Trebek announced in March 2019 that he’d been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. With his trademark straightforwardness, Trebek acknowledged that “normally the prognosis for this is not very encouraging,” but insisted that he would fight as hard as he could and would continue to work in the meantime. That’s exactly what he did. Up until his death at the age of 80 years old, Trebek kept filming episodes of Jeopardy!, which continued to air after his passing.
Alex Trebek’s Enduring Legacy Lives On
Fans took solace in the fact that Trebek’s legacy had been thoroughly respected and cemented in his final episodes. Now fans are fiercely defending the legacy Trebek left behind. When fans opposed the announcement of permanent host Mike Richards, they mobilized quickly to express their distaste. Richards’ previous involvement in discrimination lawsuits from his time producing for The Price Is Right as well as controversial comments he made during his podcast were brought up and ultimately cost him his chance at hosting the iconic game show. The search is still on, though fans have a few contenders in mind for Trebek’s ultimate replacement.