‘Jeopardy!’ Guest Host Savannah Guthrie Says Alex Trebek ‘Was a Class Act and a Gentleman’ Because of Those Around Him

by Josh Lanier

Savannah Guthrie said she never met Alex Trebek. But after spending time with his Jeopardy! colleagues and learning more about him, she says it’s “one of the regrets of (her life).”

“That’s one of the regrets of my life,” she told producers in her pre-show interview. “I never got to meet Alex Trebek. I would have loved to meet him. But now that I’ve met all the folks who worked with him so closely, I know everything I’ve ever heard about him is 100 percent true. He was a class act and a gentleman.”

Ruta Lee, Trebek’s former co-host on High Rollers, his neighbor, and close friend, wrote about Trebek’s class in her memoir, “Consider Your A—Kissed!” For instance, even after his divorce, he, his ex-wife, and his new wife Jean were very close.

“They are my dearest friends,” she said. “And we see each other together, which I think it’s pretty friggin sophisticated. You know you’ve done a good job when you can get together with the wives. But that’s just the kind of man Alex was. …

“Let’s just put it this way, and I wrote about it in the book. Alex and his first wife Elaine remained very good friends. In fact, Alex is the one who walked Elaine up the aisle to her new husband Peter Kares. He was just a sophisticated, wonderful man.”

He was also very funny, she said. In fact, she said he could have been a stand-up.

“He didn’t just tell jokes,” Lee continued. “He would throw in a punchline that somehow went into the middle of anything serious he was saying. You couldn’t help but just roar into laughter. Everybody that knew him just adored him. And I did too.”

Savannah Guthrie Is a Big ‘Jeopardy!’ Fan

Turns out Savannah Guthrie, co-host of TODAY, is a giant fan of the show. It could almost be a litmus test to find out if she’ll like someone because all of her friends and family watch the show.

Jeopardy! is iconic,” she said. “It’s this legendary show. Everyone loves it — everyone I know that’s smart and thoughtful, and interesting loves Jeopardy! Everyone I work with loves Jeopardy! My family loves Jeopardy! Of everything I’ve ever done in my career, honestly, hosting Jeopardy is the thing I think people are most excited about, and I am too.”    

But that doesn’t mean she is completely comfortable taking over the host’s lectern starting Monday. She’ll guest host the show for two weeks. And she admitted to PEOPLE that she was incredibly nervous.

“I was so nervous because I really just wanted to show how much respect I have for Jeopardy and Alex (Trebek)– who is a legend and an icon for a reason. He’s the maestro,” Guthrie explained. “And I know those Jeopardy fans are picky, but I have to say, I’m just the fill-in, so don’t worry!”