The whole world seemed to mourn the loss of “Jeopardy!” icon Alex Trebek, who hosted the beloved game show for almost four decades. Now, his widow, Jean Currivan-Trebek, said she never realized the cultural impact he had on generations of people until he started battling cancer.
Alex announced his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis back in March 2019, gaining the immediate support of friends, followers, and fans of the show. Despite his treatment and unstable condition, he continued to host “Jeopardy!” for as long as possible. Eventually, he passed away in November 2020 at his home in Burbank, California, surrounded by his family.
News of Alex’s death devastated the country, and he soon became solidified as a “cultural icon,” per Fox News. But to Alex’s wife, Jean, he was just her husband and the love of her life.
“Alex was my dear husband and my most beloved friend,” Jean told The Eden Magazine. “Like most long-term relationships, we had our ups and downs. But the truth of it was that we were very close and experienced a lot of life together.”
“It was important to Alex to keep his personal life separate from his professional life unless it was ‘needed,’” Jean explained. “Like, attending an award show or something like that. For the most part, Alex and I enjoyed staying at home. When we did go out, it was perhaps for a quick dinner or movie every now and then, so it wasn’t like we were always out in public for me to really notice his popularity.”
But Jean’s husband soon transformed into a celebrity before her eyes, after he publicly revealed his cancer diagnosis.
‘Jeopardy!’ Host Alex Trebek’s Wife Jean Reflects on World’s Response to His Cancer
“We received cartons of mail every day filled with get-well cards, etc., at our home address, and I knew that the studio was receiving so much more. It was astonishing,” Jean said.
Despite all the support and well wishes, Jean’s just glad his previously unknown “celebrity status” never affected their marriage.
“In looking back, the fact that I did not identify Alex as an ‘icon’ was a gift. We were equal partners in a marriage, and we had our own personal growth issues to deal with just like any ordinary couple,” she explained. “It would have been really weird for both Alex and myself if I thought of him as some celebrity. He could just be himself at home, and that was it.”
In just one month, it’ll be a year since “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek’s death. The world will continue to honor and remember him, but for Jean, she’s still grieving his loss.
“I’m reminded of what Queen Elizabeth ll said when Prince Phillip recently passed away. She said, ‘Grief is the price you pay for having loved.’ It’s true,” Jean acknowledged. “There are moments of my day that I miss Alex so much, and I just have to allow myself those times. Sometimes I feel as if he’s been on a long vacation, and then there are other times that the reality of the absence of his presence is really palatable. I find that being with my family and friends or doing something creative and new is really helpful.”