Alex Trebek, who died Sunday at age 80 following a battle with pancreatic cancer, had already planned and rehearsed his final goodbye for his last episode of “Jeopardy!”
In an interview in January with Michael Strahan for ABC News, the host said his big farewell will only take up only the last 30 seconds of that final half-hour. Watch the video above.
“What I would do on that day is tell the director, ‘Time the show down to leave me 30 seconds at the end. That’s all I want,'” Trebek told Strahan.
“I will say my goodbyes and I will tell people, ‘Don’t ask me who’s going to replace me because I have no say whatsoever,'” he continued, reciting his planned exit speech. “‘But I’m sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me … then they will be a success and the show will continue being a success. And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye.'”
In the past, Trebek has said that he would remain on as host of his beloved “Jeopardy!” as long as “my skills have not diminished,” but in the January interview, he told Strahan that the process had already begun — though he didn’t clarify exactly what that meant.
Trebek’s wife, Jean, said she knows how much the show means to him.
“I know it’s what feeds him. He loves doing “Jeopardy!” He has his own family over there. They’re such a close-knit, beautiful group of people. So I think that gives him a lot of support, a sense of purpose, that he’s just not in bed and can be production,” she said.
“Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex,” the show’s official website announced Sunday.
Trebek revealed in March 2019 that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, but vowed to battle the disease. The news of his diagnosis came just months after Trebek renewed his contract with Sony Pictures Television to stay on as host of “Jeopardy!” through 2022. He underwent several rounds of chemotherapy over the course of the next year.
In July 2020, just before his 80th birthday, Trebek said he was undergoing experimental treatments but would not continue seeking treatment if the current round failed. He also published a memoir, “The Answer Is …: Reflections on My Life,” and donated proceeds to charity.