‘Jeopardy!’: One Movie Initially Had Morgan Freeman Dying on the Set of Iconic Game Show

by Thad Mitchell
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A true cultural icon in the entertainment industry, Jeopardy! is one of the highest-rated and most-watched game shows of all time.

The face of the quiz show’s success is none other than longtime host and game show legend Alex Trebek. For 37 years, Trebek stood behind his lectern, conducting the game with immense skill and grace. Due to the game show’s tremendous success, Trebek quickly became a bonafide in-demand celebrity. The graceful game show host was wanted by television and film producers for appearances in their shows and movies. Seeing his popularity on the continual incline, they knew casting Alex Trebek would be a huge draw. He mostly played himself when appearing in films or television productions as his name alone was enough to draw attention. He had memorable appearances in television shows like “Cheers,” “The X-Files” and “The Simpsons.” He also appeared in several movies including “White Men Can’t Jump” and “The Bucket List.”

The latter movie is one that Trebek was proud to be a part of and it became a topic of discussion in a 2019 interview with actor Michael McKean. Trebek let the audience in on a little secret about the ending of The Bucket List and how it could have gone.

“I did a great movie — or I think it is a great movie — The Bucket List,” he says to McKean. “I read that script and I had tears in my eyes and said ‘oh, they want me to be in that?’ Recall I desperately wanted to do it.”

Jeopardy! Legend Recalls Acting Alongside Morgan Freeman

Trebek plays himself in the movie as one of the characters, played by Morgan Freeman, has a life-long dream of appearing on Jeopardy!. Trebek divulged a few details on his role in the movie and a scene that hit the cutting room floor.

“Morgan Freeman’s character was obsessed with Jeopardy! and it was his ambition to appear as a contestant on the program,” he says. “The original script had him appearing on Jeopardy! and dying on the show — literally dying. Now, they cut that out and they had, as you’ll recall, Morgan dying at home in the bedroom. His wife comes in to find him collapsed behind the bed. I was terribly disappointed it ended up on the cutting room floor. But, I get a nice percentage every time they show that film. I have made a ton of money off The Bucket List in which I appear only in a cameo.”

Trebek passed last year at the age of 80 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. He recorded his final Jeopardy! episodes just days before his death. Gone but not forgotten, his legacy will live on forever.

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