Alex Trebek, the host of "Jeopardy!," died on November 8, 2020, of stage 4 pancreatic cancer at the age of 80. He left behind his wife, Jean Currivan, and three children.
Trebek may have been married to Currivan for almost three decades before his death, but she was not his first wife. Before he met Currivan, he was married to Elaine Trebek Kares.
Kares and the Emmy Award winner walked the aisle for years before making his iconic game show debut in 1984. Here is all you need to know about him.
Photo of Alex Trebek and a photo of his first wife, Elaine Trebek Kares | Photo: Getty Images
If you are a fan of game shows, then Trebek is a name you would most likely have heard of before. Before his death, he was the second host of the "Jeopardy!" show since 1984.
Being a game show host was never his first choice of profession. He initially wanted to be a priest, but one summer at a Trappist monastery made him change his mind.
Being a great host, he received the Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host eight times for his work on "Jeopardy!" While he was studying for his Philosophy degree, he joined the debating society.
He began working for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1961 and started reading the CBC national radio news. After moving to the United States in 1973, he started hosting "The Wizzard Of Odds."
He eventually hosted over 20 shows and has over 30 acting credits to his name. Despite his fame and successes, he was a selfless man who made time to donate to multiple charities.
Due to his numerous contributions to the University of Ottawa, they awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of the university. He had received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto and another star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 2011, he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmy Awards. On June 13, 2014, he made another Guinness World Record for "the most gameshow episodes hosted by the same presenter (same program)."
In 2007, he suffered a first but minor heart attack which occurred again in June 2012. After a fall in October 2017, he suffered a subdural hematoma and underwent surgery to remove blood clots from his brain.
Alex Trebek onstage during the "Jeopardy!" game show | Photo: Getty Images
On March 6, 2019, he announced his cancer diagnosis. Even though the prognosis was poor, he was ready to put up a good fight. He started chemotherapy, but after twenty months, he gave up the fight.
Trebek was never afraid of dying as he had lived a good and fulfilling life. Friends and loved ones will miss him, but he will forever be in their hearts. In 2021, they renamed the "Jeopardy!" stage to "The Alex Trebek stage."
TREBEK'S FIRST WIFE
Kares is currently a businesswoman with multiple companies, including a perfume packaging store called Scent Seal, an art gallery known as Gallery GO, and a multimedia music distributor called Mag-A-Music.
In the '60s, she was a Playboy Bunny, and in the '70s, she became a television broadcaster on the program "Call Callei." At the time, she was married to Louis Callei.
Alex Trebek and Elaine Trebek Kares at the Annual Thalian Ball, on October 1976 in California | Photo: Getty Images
The program on CHCH-TV was focused on sexual topics, which was not a common trend on shows in the '70s. After leaving the station, she became the co-host of CTV's "Canada AM" for a few months.
In 1974, she had divorced Callei, with whom she had a daughter called Nicky, and got married to Trebek. However, their marriage lasted for only seven years.
Bonnie Lythgoe and Elaine Trebek-Kares at the 10th Annual Covenant House California's Awards Gala on June 5, 2009 in Beverly Hills | Photo: Getty Images
When Kares and Trebek met, he was not the host of "Jeopardy!" yet. At the time, he was hosting different shows such as "The Wizard of Odds," "High Rollers," "Stars on Ice," "The $128,000 Question," and "Wall $treet," among many others.
The Ohio graduate and party planner is also a lover of animals. Kares's love for shelter animals led her to run a feline adoption event after taking in quite a number of feline friends.
When they were still married, she moved back to the US, and Trebek adopted her daughter. The couple did not have any child of their own. In 1981, they were divorced, and she got married for a third time to Peter Kares in 2001.
When Kares and Trebek divorced, his adoptive daughter, who was only six years old when he came into her life, never stopped using his last name.
TREBEK AND CURRIVAN
While things didn't work out with the accomplished businesswoman who was his first wife, Trebek felt like the luckiest man alive when he fell in love with Currivan.
The couple met at a party in New York and got on well. They became friends and dated for two years before he popped the question on her 26th birthday.
When he gave her a gift of clothes, she did not expect to see the most beautiful engagement ring. She said,
"It took my breath away. I mean, it was a rock."
Despite the over two decades difference between them, their love was stronger, and in 1990, they said their "I dos" in Los Angeles. However, Trebek wished he had met her sooner than he did.
The two became parents to their children, Matthew and Emily, who spent a lot of time together and celebrated many milestones throughout their marriage.
Considering the fact that Currivan was probably not born when Trebek was in his twenties, their relationship seemed impossible. However, the presenter of "Jeopardy!" loved his wife more than anything.
Currivan also gave her husband her unwavering love and support as he battled stage 4 pancreatic cancer for nearly two years. She became his pillar and rock in those trying times.
She made him smile, lifted his spirits when the days seemed dark, and cheered him on when he wanted to give up. Currivan never let the pressure get to her as chemotherapy took the strength out of her husband.
Even though he fought the good fight and initially refused to give up so as not to betray the love of his life and soulmate, cancer had its way in the end.
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