‘Jeopardy!’ guest host Ken Jennings reveals special gift from Alex Trebek’s widow: ‘What a lovely gesture’

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Ken Jennings received a special gift from Alex Trebek’s widow.

The star, who presided over “Jeopardy!” for more than 30 years, passed away one year ago on Nov. 8, 2020. He was 80. The beloved host previously announced in 2019 he had advanced pancreatic cancer.

Jennings, a champ on the game show who has returned as a guest host this week, opened up about Trebek in a new video.

“I miss Alex a lot,” said the 47-year-old. “When I’m here, I feel like he’s probably in the building somewhere. It’s hard not to talk about him in the present tense.”

Jennings shared how Trebek’s wife Jean was determined to make him feel welcomed.

“The first day I came in to guest host was just a few weeks after Alex had passed and it was a really rough time,” Jennings admitted. “I got to the studio and one of the producers handed me a little box and Alex’s wife, Jean, had given me a pair of his cuff links that he had worn on the show. What a lovely gesture that was from Jean.”

The star said he was moved by the widow’s kindness during a painful moment in their lives.

“You know, at a time that was very hard for her family, dealing with a lot of grief and a lot of challenges, she thought about ‘Jeopardy!’ and she thought about me, a person she had never even met,” he said. “And I just thought, ‘What a lovely thing to do.’ She’s fantastic.”

Alex Trebek (L) with contestant Ken Jennings in 2004.
(Photo by Jeopardy Productions via Getty Images       )

And the accessory is one-of-a-kind for Jennings.

“My Alex Trebek cuff links are the only cuff links I own,” said Jennings. “They’re kind of a good luck charm for me here.”

On Monday, Jean honored her husband by sharing a video on Instagram that showed Trebek filming a message for The Compassion Project shortly before his death. In the recording, Trebek encouraged people to support the organization, which aims to help children learn “empathy and compassion for their classmates.”

“My beloved husband passed away one year ago… one of his final messages was that of the importance of having compassion for each other,” Jean captioned the post. “In honor of Alex’s beautiful and powerful life, please take a moment to watch this short video.”

Actor Alex Trebek (R) and wife Jean Currivan Trebek arrive at the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards show in Las Vegas, Nevada, on June 19, 2011. 
(ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

“Jeopardy!” bills itself as “America’s favorite quiz show” and captivated the public with a unique format in which contestants were told the answers and had to provide the questions on a variety of subjects, including movies, politics, history and popular culture.

Trebek, who became its host in 1984, was a master of the format, engaging in friendly banter with contestants, appearing genuinely pleased when they answered correctly, and, at the same time, moving the game along in a brisk no-nonsense fashion whenever people struggled for answers.

Born July 22, 1940, in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, Trebek was sent off to boarding school by his Ukrainian father and French-Canadian mother when he was barely in his teens.

After graduating high school, he spent a summer in Cincinnati to be close to a girlfriend, then returned to Canada to attend college. After earning a philosophy degree from the University of Ottawa, he went to work for the Canadian Broadcasting Co., starting as a staff announcer and eventually becoming a radio and TV reporter.

Alex Trebek is survived by his wife, their two children and his stepdaughter, Nicky.
(Jeopardy! via AP)

He became a U.S. citizen in 1997. Trebek’s first marriage, to Elaine Callei, ended in divorce. In 1990, he married Jean, and they had two children, Emily and Matthew. Trebek lived with his family in Los Angeles’ Studio City section, not far from Hollywood.

Trebek is survived by his wife, their two children and his stepdaughter, Nicky.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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