Alex Trebek's widow Jean says 'Jeopardy' gave him 'a reason to wake up in the morning' amid pancreatic cancer battle

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3-min read
(Photo: Today show)
(Photo: Today show)

Jean Trebek says Jeopardy helped husband Alex Trebek through his cancer battle.

The iconic game show host's widow was interviewed on the Today show about his legacy — and her grief. She spoke candidly about missing her partner of 30 years, "the ying and the yang to each other," and being in "disbelief that he's gone." She also talked about how Jeopardy gave Alex a reason to get out of bed each morning while fighting Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Asked how she was coping since Alex's November death, Jean, 56, said, "I think right now, talking with you, I'm good." However, "I absolutely have moments of waves of grief that just come over me. Still, really disbelief that he is — that he is gone. I miss him a lot."

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She added, "We were both the ying and the yang to each other. We just knew how to dance. We really loved each other. We really loved being in life together."

Jean, a professional religious science practitioner and editor of the website InsideWink, told Today's Savannah Guthrie that Jeopardy was really a lifeline to Alex after he was diagnosed in March 2019.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 04: TV personality Alex Trebek (L) and Jean Trebek attend the 2014 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Jane Fonda at the Dolby Theatre on June 5, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Tribute show airing Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 9pm ET/PT on TNT.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/WireImage)
Alex and Jean Trebek were married for 30 years. (Photo: Kevin Winter/WireImage)

"Doing Jeopardy really gave him a sense of purpose, a reason to wake up in the morning," said Jean, who shares two adult children with the TV star, Matthew and Emily, and is bonus mom to his daughter Nicky.

Alex worked until just days prior to his death — and Jean said knew the end of him being able to work would be his end.

"I think, Savannah, that I knew his life ... on earth here would wrap up quickly when he could no longer do the show," Jean admitted. "But he wanted to finish strong. And he did. And he lived life on his own terms."

Jean also thanked Jeopardy watchers and Alex fans for showing him so much love during the biggest test in his life.

"We got to really see the outpouring of love and admiration that he gave to the world, and I know that that was, in and of itself, a huge inspiration for Alex," she said.

Emily spoke out the public outpouring after her father's death — and how her father would have been so touched.

"He would have been shocked, honestly," Emily said. "I think he knew he was loved and revered, but I don't think to this level. The support and the love that's been shown since he passed has really been on another level... He would have really appreciated it. It would mean a lot to him."

Guthrie is one of the Jeopardy guest hosts lined up to fill in until Alex's permanent replacement is announced. She called the experience shooting a "couple of weeks" of shows "so special." It will air in the summer.

Guthrie said it was a surprise getting to interview Jean after completing the hosting gig — and it made her feel "connected to" Jean. She also "appreciated even more what Alex has done, what it took, how hard it was and how excellent he was."

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