The First 'Jeopardy!' Host, Art Fleming, Died in a Tragic Way

Before Alex Trebek was a 'Jeopardy!' icon, the late actor Art Fleming hosted the game series from 1964 to 1975, and his cause of death was shocking.

Lizzy Rosenberg - Author

Mar. 8 2021, Updated 10:34 a.m. ET

Long before the legendary Alex Trebek became the face of Jeopardy!, the previous host, Airplane II actor Art Fleming, ran the show from 1964 through 1975. His run officially ended when the first iteration of the game show series was canceled in 1975, and although Art continued acting long after Alex began hosting the Jeopardy! revival in 1978, Art sadly passed away in 1995.

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Some of you may not have been alive when Art Fleming died and others may have long forgotten the story. Either way, we have all the details, but be warned: the first Jeopardy! host's cause of death may seriously shock you.

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Art Fleming and Alex Trebek had many things in common... including pancreatic cancer.

When Art passed away 25 years ago in 1995, the New York Times described him as having "the carriage of a gentleman soldier and the manner of a benign schoolmaster." Apparently, the creator of the series, Merv Griffin, hired him after watching him act in an airline commercial, saying he had "the perfect look and command" for the series. In many ways, it sounds like he gave off a similar impression to Alex. 

However, their general demeanor and ability to carry the show isn't the only thing they had in common. Apparently, Art ultimately succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 70, according to his friends and family. Likewise, Alex Trebek is currently suffering from pancreatic cancer and has been for quite a while now, which he announced in March 2019. 

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While fans, friends, and family of the current Jeopardy! icon are hoping for the best, it's quite unusual that both hosts suffered from the same exact disease. If you don't recall Alex's devastating announcement, we've included the clip below.

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Hopefully, Alex will be able to beat stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

As previously mentioned, Alex first announced that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer back in March 2019, and as you'd expect, fans were absolutely devastated by the news. He underwent several rounds of chemotherapy, which ended in summer 2019, and when he returned to the show, fans were elated. We had all hoped he beat cancer, however, it seems as though that may not be the case. 

Despite the fact that Alex vowed to continue hosting Jeopardy! until his contract ends in 2022, it seems as though his health battle has been (understandably) quite tumultuous. Obviously, fans and those close to him are hoping for the best, and that he's able to host the series for several more years to come, but there's a chance he won't be leading the beloved series much longer.

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Source: Getty

Recently, Alex mentioned that he would like 98-year-old Betty White to be his successor to host the series. Either way, we hope Alex stays on the show as long as humanly possible and that he perseveres through this terrible and unforgiving disease. 

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