Beloved Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek died last November at the age of 80. He first shared his diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer with the public in March 2019, promising that he was doing everything in his power to best the disease and to continue standing behind the Jeopardy! lectern for as long as he was able. The star indeed kept working and passed away just days after he taped his final episode. Now, for the first time since Alex’s death, his widow Jean Trebek is opening up about about his cancer battle and final years. Read on to learn what she said became a “huge inspiration” for him to continue his treatment, and for more on the future of the show, check out This Is Who Fans Want to Succeed Alex Trebek as Host of Jeopardy!
On Wednesday’s episode of Today, Savannah Guthrie previewed her sit-down with Jean, which is a part of a primetime special called Inspiring America.
Introducing a clip of the interview, Guthrie promised that the conversation would touch on “the heartbreaking loss of her husband of 30 years, the treasured moments of their life together, and the incredible grace and strength Alex showed throughout his battle with cancer.”
The full conversation will air on NBC on May 1 at 8 p.m. ET, along with spotlights on other people positively impacting their communities and the world.
For more on the late host, here’s Alex Trebek Gives “Amazing Speech” in One of His Final Jeopardy! Episodes.
Jean told Guthrie in the preview snippet that both she and Alex were surprised by the amount of support and love that came his way after he made his diagnosis public.
“I think one of the beautiful things, the blessing that came—if you can call it a blessing—was that he got to really see the outpouring of love and admiration that he gave to the world,” she continued. “And some people, you know, you don’t see that while you’re still embodied. you don’t get to really witness all the love that people feel for you.”
She also indicated that this support was something that motivated the host throughout his treatment.
“And I know that that was, in an of itself, a huge inspiration for Alex,” Jean added.
For another star we recently said goodbye to, here’s John Travolta Shares One of the Hardest Things About Losing Kelly Preston.
In a November 2019 episode, Dhruv Gaur gave up on getting his Final Jeopardy question correct and simply wrote, “What is…We [heart] you Alex,” on his screen.
After it was revealed, the host became visibly emotional, but still managed to crack a joke.
Looking back on Gaur’s message, Jean told Guthrie, “When that contestant wrote that, you know, you could see him, like, ‘Oh, don’t make me cry here but I love it.’ And I think that meant the world to him.”
The Trebeks had been married for 30 years when Alex passed. They were introduced by a mutual friend in 1988 and walked down the aisle in 1990. The couple shared a son and daughter, Matthew and Emily.
Speaking to People in July 2020, Alex said, “She’s kept me alive. If it weren’t for Jean, I’d have put myself out of this a long time ago.”
“Sometimes you look at something, you look at someone, and you know,” Alex wrote. “With Jeanie that’s how it was. I wasn’t looking for love. But I recognized at a gut level that here was someone who was going to complete me as a human being.”
For one celebrity’s meaningful moment with the late star, here’s Ryan Reynolds Shares the Last Conversation He Had With Alex Trebek.