‘Jeopardy!’ Producer Reveals Alex Trebek Makes Moving Speech in Final Episodes

by Emily Morgan

The final Jeopardy! episodes, which include the late Alex Trebek are scheduled to air Monday, Jan. 4 through Friday, Jan. 8. 

Just ten days after they wrapped taping in November, Trebek would take his final breath after losing his battle to stage four pancreatic cancer. 

Alex Trebek Gives Farewell Speech During Jeopardy! Taping

According to Jeopardy! Executive Producer, Mike Richards, during his final days he gracefully performed his moderating duties and gave a sentimental speech as a way to say goodbye to his millions of fans.

“On that first episode, he walked out, and you’ll see it when it airs, he gives this amazing speech about the holidays and coming together and being strong and taking care of each other. And we didn’t know he was gonna do that; he just walked out and did it,” Richards said.

“And you’ll see in the episode, we all started to clap, and there’s points in Jeopardy! where you clap and there’s points in Jeopardy! where you don’t; that’s not a normal spot. You can see [Trebek] kind of look over at us as he was crossing to reveal the categories: ‘What are you guys clapping about?’”

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Richards revealed that Trebek was ill during those episodes and tried his best to beat his cancer during the taping.

Before filming, only a handful of people knew that Trebek underwent intestinal surgery. Furthermore, as the pandemic loomed on (which had put a hiatus on taping in March), Trebek insisted that the show go on.

Richards On Trebek: ‘He Was A Warrior’

Moreover, Alex Trebek said he wanted Jeopardy! to be the first show to resume production mid-pandemic.

“The more frustrated he was that he wasn’t in taping, the better he was feeling,” Richards disclosed. “He was forceful about it. He wanted back in.” According to TVLine, production resumed in late July.

“I talked to him seven days before what would end up being his final taping session, and I said, ‘Alex, you’re barely up and around. We have a long way to go before you’re gonna be back in the studio taping,’” Richards recalled.

“He got very firm, which I loved, and he goes, ‘I’ll be there. Don’t you cancel anything.’ And sure as heck, he was. He was a warrior.”

When the show resumed, with proper safety measures in place, Richards remembers there being “a heightened sense in the room,” seeing Trebek return to his podium after surgery.

“I had chills throughout the first taping,” he said, “because I was watching him, going, ‘How is he doing this?’ He came in at a higher level than normal, and his normal was excellent.”

Trebek’s Last Moments Taping Iconic Show

During his last moments on-screen, Richards recalls Alex Trebek looking “as healthy as can be,” and that’s because of his determination to work.

“He had that much willpower. And we knew how much he was fighting, and that’s what made the performance even more impressive,” the producer added. 

He was so impressed that he decided to compliment the host, something Trebek never liked. “I went to the door where he exited and said, ‘Hey, that was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen,’” Richards reflected.

“He was exhausted, obviously, and he looks up and he goes, ‘Thank you.’ He knew what he had done and appreciated the fact that we all knew what he had done. So those last two days are very special, and I’ll never forget them.”