Alex Trebek has died following a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old.
According to Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards, Trebek got the peaceful final day he dreamed of.
Trebek will appear in episodes through Christmas Day. His replacement has not yet been confirmed.
When Alex Trebek was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he chose optimism and perseverance—a sentiment that carried him to his last breath. The longtime Jeopardy! host died on Sunday morning at 80 years old, and according to executive producer Mike Richards, he got the peaceful final day he dreamed of.
“He had a swing in his backyard that he loved. He actually rebuilt it earlier this year. He was very handy. I don’t know if a lot of people know that,” Richards told Today. “And even in his book, he described that he wanted his final day to be sitting on his swing next to his wife, Jean, and kind of watching the horizon. And he got to do that.”
The producer added that he was “coherent” and not in pain, “and the fact that he had a nice final day, I think makes all of us in the Jeopardy! family feel much better,” he said. Obviously, the crew didn’t know Trebek’s final day of filming was his last while they were on set, but Richards could tell that Trebek was persisting through fatigue and pain caused by cancer treatments.
“I knew he was in an enormous amount of pain, and as he was leaving, I saw him at the door and I said, ‘You know, that was maybe the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen,’” he recalled. “He kind of had his head down and he looked up and said, ‘Well, thank you.’ And that, you knew, when he accepted that, that he was really fighting and it was just so important for him to do this show and to support everything that it means to America.”
Trebek announced his diagnosis to the public in March 2019, and was honored to celebrate the one year survival milestone this year—one that only 18% of patients reach. “I’d be lying if I said that the journey had been an easy one. There were some good days, but a lot of not-so-good days,” he said in an update. “I joked with friends that the cancer won’t kill me, the chemo treatments will,” he said. “There were moments of great pain. Days when certain bodily functions no longer functioned, and sudden massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it really was worth fighting on.”
He continued, “[But] it would have been a betrayal of other cancer patients who have looked to me as an inspiration, and a cheerleader of sorts of the value of living and hope. And it would certainly have been a betrayal of my faith in God and the millions of prayers that have been said on my behalf.”
In July, he shared another update and his excitement to return to the Jeopardy! stage. “I’ve been continuing my treatment and it is paying off, although ... It does fatigue me a great deal,” he said. “I can’t wait to return to the studio and start recording shows for the new season.”
After his death, the show said in a press release that Trebek will appear in episodes through Christmas Day. His replacement has not yet been confirmed.
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