In the wake of Alex Trebek’s death, countless individuals who had the pleasure of spending time with him poured their hearts out through statements remembering the late “Jeopardy!” host as a class act and overall good person with a strong work ethic.
Now, Mike Richards, Executive Producer of the show that made him a household name, has taken to “Today” to give his take on Trebek’s final days as a coworker and a friend, calling him a “warrior” and describing the “Herculean” feat the host undertook by working until the very end.
Working Until The End
Richards recalls Trebek’s work ethic as impeccable and something to truly marvel at, considering the man was doing all he could on the set of “Jeopardy!” up until mere days before he succumbed to pancreatic cancer.
“He was an absolute warrior and what he was able to do by getting himself back to the set to tape those final episodes…We didn’t know it was going to be his final episodes and neither did he, but it was Herculean,” the Producer explained of Trebek’s final efforts to ensure the success of his show.
‘He Was In Enormous Pain’
He went on to add that, “He was in enormous pain. He was, you know, 10 days away from passing away and you will not sense any of that in these episodes. He is strong. He sounds great. He’s funny and he’s amazing.”
Trebek kept his dire health struggles mostly private, only hinting at details here and there, but none of that kept him from his work, which Richards recalled in a specific phone call they had shortly prior to his death.
“The week before we taped those episodes, he was in the hospital,” he explained during his appearance on the news program. “This man was unbelievable. He calls me and he said, ‘Mike, I’m going to be fine. I’ll be in to tape. I was able to eat Jello today.'”
“I went, ‘Alex, that’s great,'” the Producer said of his response, “‘but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be ready to host five episodes of a game show,’ which is an enormous amount of effort, and he said, ‘Do not cancel. I will be there.'”
Strong Work Ethic
Richards said that despite undergoing preventative measures such as chemotherapy, Trebek was dead-set on maintaining business a usual on “Jeopardy!” until the very end.
“He was getting chemotherapy once a weekend. So, I think there was a level of professionalism. I think he really understood the importance of the show and what it meant to people,” the Producer recalled. “He wrote an autobiography that described his childhood, and that kind of hard-working, blue collar, I’m going to go in and go to work. And that’s what he did.”