Late Greats 2020

Gone but never forgotten.

Jeopardy! on Monday kicked off its week of the final five episodes featuring Alex Trebek, with a touching plea from the late host.

"You will recall about a month ago, I asked all of you to take a moment and give thanks for all of the blessings that you enjoy in your lives," he said on the latest episode of the long-running game show, which was filmed 10 days before his death in November.

"Now, today a different kind of message. This is the season of giving. I know you want to be generous with your family, with your friends, your loved ones, but today I'd like you to go one step further," he continued. "I'd like you to open up your hands and open up your hearts to those who are still suffering because of COVID-19. People who are suffering through no fault of their own. We're trying to build a gentler, kinder society. If we all pitch in just a little bit, we're going to get there."

Trebek died on Nov. 8 at age 80 after suffering from stage 4 pancreatic cancer. In an interview with EW in December, Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards spoke at length about the final days working with the beloved host, and he explained a bit about Trebek's touching speech, as seen in the clip above. "As I mentioned, he had been out with the surgery, and I wasn't sure he would be back to tape those days. So for the few of us that knew what exactly was going on, there was a heightened sense in the room," Richards recalled, adding that he had "chills throughout the first taping."

He continued, "On that first episode, [Trebek] walked out, and you'll see it when it airs, he gives this amazing speech about the holidays and coming together and being strong and taking care of each other. And we didn't know he was gonna do that; he just walked out and did it. And you'll see in the episode, we all started to clap, and there's points in Jeopardy! where you clap and there's points in Jeopardy! where you don't; that's not a normal spot. You can see [Trebek] kind of look over at us as he was crossing to reveal the categories: 'What are you guys clapping about?'"

The last four episodes of Trebek's career — which were originally set to debut the week of Christmas but were pushed back to allow fans a better opportunity to enjoy them — will air through Friday, Jan. 8.

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