The day after Alex Trebek’s death, “Jeopardy!” aired a pretaped episode with the host and opened with a tribute to him from his executive producer.
“So long, everybody.”
Legendary game show host Alex Trebek posthumously ended his historic 36-year run as “Jeopardy!” host Friday with his final episode, which aired more than two months after he died of pancreatic cancer at age 80 in November.
Friday’s episode was taped on Oct. 29, just 10 days before his death.
“Jeopardy!” sent off Trebek with a moving montage tribute that highlighted the charismatic personality many people came to know and love through their television screens over the years. The video, which aired ahead of the show’s closing credits, is set to the tune of Peter’s Allen’s “Once Before I Go.”
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From retro shots of Trebek’s iconic mustache to sweet footage of his children (Matthew and Emily Trebek) on “family visiting day,” the tribute serves as a bittersweet encore that deeply resonated with fans.
“We all told ourselves we’d be ready, that the last few weeks have prepared us for tonight. I think it’s safe to say we’ve been lying to ourselves,” tweeted @cspotweet. “The tears are going to flow. But that’s ultimately a testament to the sheer goodness of Alex Trebek.”
User @Godofgrind added, “Tonight will not be easy.”
Ken Jennings,crowned the greatest “Jeopardy!” player of all time in January, will start his six-week run as the first interim host Monday. He has taped 30 episodes so far.
In honor of Trebek’s lasting legacy, here’s a look back at some of his best moments on “Jeopardy!”
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“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek died Nov. 8, 2020, after battling pancreatic cancer for nearly two years. Trebek died at home with family and friends surrounding him, “Jeopardy!” studio Sony said in a statement. Trebek presided over the beloved quiz show for more than 30 years. (Photo: Carol Kaelson, Jeopardy! via AP)
Trebek calls for a ‘gentler, kinder society’
The late Trebek opened one of his final “Jeopardy!” episodes that aired on Monday with a heartfelt message of community and togetherness amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I know you want to be generous with your family, your friends, your loved ones,” he said in an episode that aired Jan. 4. “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, people who are suffering through no fault of their own.”
Trebek said we could “build a gentler, kinder society” if “we all pitch in just a little bit.”
Alex Trebek gives heartfelt message on COVID-19 in one of his last ‘Jeopardy!’ episodes
‘I learned English because of you’
Contestant Burt Thakur tearfully thanked the longtime host of the popular game show for positively impacting his life after taking home $20,400 during an episode aired on Nov. 6, just days before Trebek died on Nov. 8.
When Trebek asked Thakur if he has “any family members back home cheering” him on, Thakur, who’s from India, shared a touching story.
“You know, here’s a true story, man. I grew up, I learned English because of you,” Thakur told Trebek. “And so, my grandfather, who raised me – I’m gonna get tears right now – I used to sit on his lap and watch you every day, so it’s a pretty special moment for me, man.”
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‘We (heart) you Alex!’
Contestant Dhruv Gaur put his heart on his screen, literally, writing “We (heart) you Alex!” instead of a Final Jeopardy answer during an episode aired on Nov. 11, 2019.
The gesture caught host Trebek, who was battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer at the time, by surprise. His voice cracked, noting the contestant bet big on the sweet note.
“That’s very kind of you, thank you. It cost you $1,995. You’re left with $5,” he said, his voice trembling. “OK.”
Immediately after the 2019 episode aired, #WeLoveYouAlex started trending on Twitter. He first announced his diagnosis in March 2019.
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A hairy debate
Trebek caused an uproar after unveiling a new bearded look during the 35th season premiere on Sept. 10, 2018.
“No need to inquire how I spent my summer vacation,” Trebek quipped. “Things got a little out of hand.”
“Hopefully it won’t be a distraction for our players,” he added.
Oh, it is a distraction. Trebek even earned his own hashtag #Trebeard.
Trebek’s facial hair has long been a subject of global respect and fascination. He shaved off his gray mustache for the first time in 2001.
In 2014, for the 30th anniversary of the show, Trebek shocked fans by returning to his famed mustache look for the first time in 13 years.
What is: Alex Trebek sans pants?
Trebek has been known to charm the pants off his audience, but in 2005 he was the one sans trousers. The host broke the ice during the “Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions” episode, featuring Jennings, Brad Rutter and Jerome Vered.
“Jeopardy!” champion Brad Rutter recalled to WOGL Radio that Trebek ditched his pants to “cut the tension” after the contestants jokingly thought of ways to break the ice.
“We were so nervous, we were just all pale as a ghost,” Rutter told the Philadelphia radio station Thursday. “What we didn’t realize was that our mics were live, and Alex heard us.”
The result? “Alex came out with no pants on,” Rutter said.
‘Wheel of… Jeopardy?’
In honor of April Fool’s in 1997, Trebek and “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak pulled a switcheroo. Sajak hosted “Jeopardy!” and Trebek hosted “Wheel of Fortune,” marking the first time Trebek didn’t host the syndicated quiz competition he became synonymous with.
Alex Trebek, left, and Pat Sajak pose on the set of the “Jeopardy!” Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational Tournament Show Taping on April 17, 2010, in Culver City, Calif. (Photo: Amanda Edwards, Getty Images)
“Welcome to our special Tuesday April 1st edition of ‘Wheel of Fortune.’ I’ll leave you to figure out why I’m here today,” Trebek quipped.
Contributing: Andrea Mandell, Bryan Alexander
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