Alex Trebek gave a passionate posthumous speech in the first of his final “Jeopardy!” episodes that are airing this week.
In Monday’s episode, the late television host called on people to be generous amid the coronavirus pandemic. He noted he had asked people to “take a moment to give thanks” for their blessings on Thanksgiving.
“Now today, a different kind of message,” he said. “This is the season of giving. I know you want to be generous with your family, your friends, your loved ones, but today I'd like you to go one step further."
"I'd like you to open up your hands and open up your heart to those who are still suffering because of COVID-19,” he went on. “People who are suffering through no fault of their own. We're trying to build a gentler, kinder society. And if we all pitch in just a little bit, we're gonna get there."
Trebek died at the age of 80 on Nov. 8, 2020 after battling pancreatic cancer. He taped episodes until the days just before his death in what the show’s executive producer Mike Richards would later call a “herculean” effort.
“He comes out and gives this absolutely amazing speech about the tough times that we’re in and the importance of us as a country, as a community, as humanity, coming together and being there for each other,” Richards told TODAY in an interview that aired Monday morning.
Richards confirmed to TODAY that when Trebek walked out of the studio after taping his final shows, no one realized they would be his last.
“He was an absolute warrior,” Richards explained. “We didn’t know it was going to be his final episodes and neither did he … He was in enormous pain. He was, you know, 10 days away from passing away.”
Trebek’s final episodes will air the rest of the week. Friday’s episode will be a regular show but at the end, there will be a tribute to the late TV host. Then the series will begin to look forward; A series of guest hosts will take over, starting with Ken Jennings, who won 74 times in regular competition and who signed on as a producer this season. He steps in as host starting Jan. 11.