‘Jeopardy!’: Alex Trebek Had Awkward Early Days in Hollywood, Explained Why He ‘Was Not a Player’

by Madison Miller
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It’s hard to imagine Alex Trebek as anything other than the calm, cool, and confident host of “Jeopardy!” since 1984. Sadly, the legendary trivia host passed away recently after a long and public battle with pancreatic cancer.

In his early days, Alex Trebek was possibly not as smooth as he made himself out to be.

Like many of us, Alex Trebek also went through an awkward phase. However, while many of us just wore fashionably unfashionable clothes and had dorky haircuts, Trebek was still a well-known figure in Hollywood.

Alex Trebek and His Early Awkward Phase

Rather than living an extravagantly Hollywood-esque lifestyle, Trebek just described himself as single and shy in the ’80s.

“I was not a player. I dated not that often … was a shy, small-town Canadian kid. A friend of mine, Alan Hamel, who is married to Suzanne Somers, had come to California before I did, and I always thought, He fits right into this society. I never felt like I belonged,” Trebek said in an interview with Vulture.

His awkwardness and discomfort didn’t last long. Eventually, he became assimilated to Hollywood life. It makes sense, especially since he spent over 35 years immersed in it.

It all came together when Richard Gully took him under his wing.

“When I had someone older guiding me. There was a man named Richard Gully, who had been a publicist for Jack Warner. We met, and because he threw a lot of dinner parties at the Bistro, an ‘in’ restaurant in Beverly Hills at the time, he often needed single guys to fill out the table. So Richard would invite me, and his being there to introduce me to people made me comfortable. And Burt Sugarman, who produced the very first show that I hosted here introduced me to the backgammon-playing community,” Trebek said.

Even if he wasn’t going out to meet people, others would reach out to Trebek. He found out that influential people like Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Stewart were big fans of him and “Jeopardy!”

Trebek and His Wife Jean

Although he was single and trying to mingle (but usually playing backgammon instead), Alex Trebek did eventually meet his future wife. He was married to Jean Trebek.

The two met in 1988 and got married just two years later. She was a sound healer and reiki master. Despite his beginning in Hollywood being defined by his shyness, Trebek actually met her at a party. He would often say his only regret is that he didn’t get to meet her earlier.

They complimented each other perfectly. Both were more into staying home and enjoying each other’s company than going out. They were two homebodies that fell in love.

“I was never into going out to clubs. It wasn’t my scene,” Alex Trebek said to People.

They had two kids together, Matthew and Emily. He also adopted his ex-wife’s daughter, Nicky, while they were together. At the end of the day, it was backgammon that brought the two together, which seems perfect.

“Alex was my boss’s buddy. He’d come over every Saturday to play backgammon and have lunch. I knew that he was on some TV show, but he never said much about it and I didn’t ask,” Jean Trebek said, according to Parade.

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