Jeopardy! Executive Producer Recalls Alex Trebek’s “Herculean” Final Tapings Before His Death

Watch: "Jeopardy!" Host Alex Trebek Dead at 80

This week, Jeopardy fans will see Alex Trebek host for the last time. 

Less than two months after the beloved Jeopardy host's death, the ABC game show is gearing up to air his final five episodes, beginning on Monday, Jan. 4. While he was battling pancreatic cancer behind the scenes, Trebek forged ahead, resulting in these last shows fans will get to see with him at the helm

"He was an absolute warrior and what he was able to do by getting himself back to the set to tape those final episodes…We didn't know it was going to be his final episodes and neither did he, but it was herculean," Executive Producer Mike Richards said in a Jan. 4 interview on Today. "He was in enormous pain. He was, you know, 10 days away from passing away and you will not sense any of that in these episodes. He is strong. He sounds great. He's funny and he's amazing."

The 80 year old was known to keep his struggles with his health mostly out of the spotlight, save for the occasional brief statement. However, Richards shed some light on how much Trebek was privately enduring in his final days. 

"The week before we taped those episodes, he was in the hospital," he told co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. "This man was unbelievable. He calls me and he said, 'Mike, I'm going to be fine. I'll be in to tape. I was able to eat Jello today.'" 

photosAlex Trebek: A Life in Pictures

"I went, 'Alex, that's great,'" Richards continued, "'but that doesn't mean you're going to be ready to host five episodes of a game show,' which is an enormous amount of effort, and he said, 'Do not cancel. I will be there.'"

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Not only was Trebek there, but he delivered a chills-inducing speech, too—one fans will finally get to see on Monday night. 

"What he did on tonight's show is just a great testament to him. He comes out. He usually said something about what was happening in the news or about what game play had been happening. And in this very special, unbelievable final week, he comes out and gives a talk about the importance of togetherness and sticking together and that the world is struggling, but we have to get through it together," Richards explained. While there were only a few people in the studio due to COVID-19 safety measures, those on set couldn't help but applaud. Still, Trebek maintained his usual approach to being fawned over.

 

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