'Jeopardy!' Producer Calls Alex Trebek a 'Warrior' During His Final Episode Tapings

Following Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek's death in early November, one of the show's producers is speaking out about the late TV legend's final episode tapings, calling Trebek a "warrior." In a new EW interview, Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards spoke candidly about Trebek's last time in the studio, which came after he had intestinal surgery. Richards explained that there had been a lot of uncertainty around Trebek returning, but that the host himself wasn't uncertain at all.

"I talked to him seven days before what would end up being his final taping session," Richards recalled, "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.' 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."

Richards later went on to share more details about Trebek's final days on set, and stated that Trebek came in and delivered some of the best work he's ever done, even while being ill. "Those final five episodes, we shot three the first day and then two the second day, and they were great. You'll watch them and you'll go, 'This guy's as healthy as could be. This is not a sick person at all.' He had that much willpower. We knew how much he was fighting, and that's what made the performance even more impressive."

Richards then had "one last thing" to share, recalling a heartfelt moment between the two men. "On the second day of taping, what would end up being his final taping and the final time he was in the studio, I went to the door where [he exited] and said, 'Hey, that was the most incredible thing I've ever seen.' And he did not like to be complimented. That was kind of staring down the mouth of a great white when you'd do that, because he really didn't like that. But I had to say it, because it was the most incredible thing I'd ever seen. And he was exhausted, obviously, and he looks up and he goes, 'Thank you.'"

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He knew what he had done and appreciated the fact that we all knew what he had done," Richards said. "So those last two days are very special, and I'll never forget them." Trebek's final Jeopardy! episodes will be airing all this week, Jan. 4 through Jan. 8.