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Why Alex Trebek’s wife didn’t view ‘Jeopardy!’ host as an ‘icon’

‘We were equal partners in a marriage. ... It would have been really weird for both Alex and myself if I thought of him as some celebrity’ — Jean Trebek

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Alex Trebek and his wife, Jean Trebek, arrive at the 17th annual Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame awards in New York.

Alex Trebek and his wife, Jean Trebek, arrive at the 17th annual Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame awards in New York. Ahead of the year anniversary of Alex Trebek’s death, Jean Trebek opened up about their marriage and how she handles her grief.

Associated Press

It wasn’t until Alex Trebek went public with his pancreatic cancer diagnosis that his wife, Jean Trebek, realized just how beloved her husband was.

Until that moment, the longtime “Jeopardy!” host had largely kept his personal life separate from his professional life.

“For the most part, Alex and I enjoyed staying at home,” Jean Trebek said in a new interview with Eden magazine. “When we did go out, it was perhaps for a quick dinner or movie every now and then, so it wasn’t like we were always out in public for me to really notice his popularity.”

But in March 2019, Trebek divulged his cancer diagnosis to his fans. And every day that followed, cartons filled to the brim with get-well cards arrived at the Trebeks’ home and at the “Jeopardy!” studio.

“In looking back, the fact that I did not identify Alex as an ‘icon’ was a gift,” Jean Trebek told Eden magazine. “We were equal partners in a marriage, and we had our own personal growth issues to deal with just like any ordinary couple. It would have been really weird for both Alex and myself if I thought of him as some celebrity. He could just be himself at home, and that was it.”

A year since Alex Trebek’s death

Jean Trebek’s new interview comes ahead of the year anniversary of her husband’s death on Nov. 8, 2020.

She revealed that the grief over her husband’s loss continues to come in waves.

“There are moments of my day that I miss Alex so much, and I just have to allow myself those times,” she told Eden magazine. “Sometimes I feel as if he’s been on a long vacation, and then there are other times that the reality of the absence of his presence is really palatable. I find that being with my family and friends or doing something creative and new is really helpful.”

Alex Trebek considered Jean Trebek, his second wife, to be his soulmate, the Deseret News previously reported. After developing a friendship first, the couple got married in 1990 and had two children, Matthew and Emily.

“With Jean it just happened. … I wasn’t looking for love,” Trebek wrote in his memoir that he published a few months before his death, according to the Deseret News. “But with Jean, I recognized at a gut level that here was someone who was going to complete me as a human being.”

A new ‘Jeopardy!’ host

Nearly a year since Alex Trebek’s death, “Jeopardy!” is still in search of a permanent host.

For the time being, Mayim Bialik and “Jeopardy!” legend Ken Jennings are splitting hosting duties through the end of the calendar year, the Deseret News reported.