Alex Trebek Debuts New Facial Hair Amid 'Jeopardy!' Shutdown, Cancer Treatment

In a new video, Alex Trebek debuted this summer's edition of the signature beard he typically sports during the Jeopardy! off-season. The longtime host of the long-running game show sported the facial hair during a summer update about the show — production of which was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 79-year-old, who is in the midst of a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, also gave a health update.

"I hope you're all doing well during these difficult times. As many of you know, whenever there's a break in our Jeopardy! tape schedule, I often take that opportunity to grow some facial hair," Trebek said, motioning to his new goatee. He continued, saying he's anxiously waiting for the time when it's safe for the entire Jeopardy! cast and crew to return to the Culver City, California, studio, which he hopes will be "very, very soon."

In the meantime, Jeopardy! has plans to return to the airwaves even without brand-new episodes. "I'm here at home recording show openings from some very special Jeopardy! episodes that will be coming up in July," Trebek continued, revealing that the show will roll out a special four-week series that will highlight 20 memorable episodes of the show, which debuted in its current form in 1984. The retrospective will include the first Jeopardy! episode Trebek ever hosted. "For the first time ever, we are going to open the Jeopardy! vaults and take another look at some of our favorite episodes, including the very first Jeopardy! show I ever hosted — mustache and all," he said.

He also gave a major update on his health, telling fans he's on the upswing. "I'd also like to take this opportunity to give you a quick health update," he said. "I'm doing well, I've been continuing my treatment, and it is paying off, though it does fatigue me a great deal. My numbers are good; I'm feeling great."

After revealing more than a year ago that he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and undergoing treatment, Trebek has been open about the exhaustion and mental health setbacks he's suffered as a result of chemotherapy. "The one-year survival rate for stage four pancreatic cancer patients is 18 percent. I'm very happy to report I have just reached that marker," he said one year after his diagnosis. "Now, I'd be lying if I said the journey had been an easy one. There were some good days but a lot of not-so-good days. I joked with friends that the cancer won't kill me, the chemo treatments will."

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He added that while he had questioned whether the pain was worth it or not, he considered giving up "a betrayal of my wife and soulmate, Jean, who has given her all to help me survive." He added, "It would have been a betrayal of other cancer patients who have looked to me as an inspiration and a cheerleader sorts, of the value of living and hope."

Jeopardy!'s special four-week series of archived episodes with new introductions from Trebek will kick off on July 20. Trebek said he's champing at the bit to get back to production. In the meantime, he will look back on his life and career in his new memoir, The Answer Is... Reflections on My Life, which comes out July 21, one day before his 80th birthday.