Alex Trebek’s wife Jean has spoken candidly about her husband’s death and lasting legacy in her first interview, calling it a “blessing” that the Jeopardy! host was able to experience the love from his fans before his passing.
Jean, who was married to the game-show host for 30 years before his death from pancreatic cancer on 8 November 2020, reflected on her husband’s role as a beloved celebrity during an interview with Today’s Savannah Guthrie for a new special called Inspiring America: The 2021 Inspiration List.
In a preview of the interview, which will air on Saturday at 8pm ET on NBC and Telemundo, Guthrie asks Trebek’s widow whether she was surprised by how many lives her husband touched and how much “meaning he has for so many people”.
In response to the question, Jean said that she was surprised and that her husband was as well, with the 56-year-old revealing that one of the “beautiful things”was that Trebek got to see how loved he was before he died.
“I think one of the beautiful things, the blessings 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 said. “Some people, you know, you don’t see that while you’re still embodied, you don’t really get to witness all the love that people feel for you.
“And I know that was in and of itself a huge inspiration for Alex.”
During the interview, Jean also opened up about her continued grief over the passing of her husband, telling Guthrie that she has moments where the sadness just comes over her.
“I think right now, talking with you, I’m good. You know? I’m good. I absolutely have moments of waves of grief that just come over me, I miss him a lot,” she said.
Trebek, who died at 80, first shared his diagnosis in 2019, telling fans via the Jeopardy! YouTube channel that he was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, but that he was going to fight it and continue to work.
“Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working,” he said at the time.
While speaking with Guthrie, Jean reflected on one moment that stood out after her husband’s diagnosis, when Jeopardy! contestant Dhruv Gaur wrote “We [heart] you Alex!” in place of his Final Jeopardy answer during an episode in November 2019.
According to Jean, the moment “meant the world” to the game-show host.
“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,” she recalled.
Following Trebek’s death, Jean paid tribute to her late husband with a photo of the pair on their wedding day, which she captioned: “My family and I sincerely thank you all for your compassionate messages and generosity. Your expressions have truly touched our hearts. Thank you so very, very much.”