Alex Trebek and Jean Trebek's Relationship Timeline

Alex and Jean Trebek were married from 1990 until the Jeopardy! host died in November 2020. Here is a timeline of their relationship

01 of 15

1998: Alex Trebek meets Jean Currivan at a party

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After divorcing his first wife in 1981 following seven years together, Alex Trebek met Jean Currivan, a real estate project manager from Huntington, New York. The two crossed paths at a party in 1988; he later invited her to his home for dinner.

The prospect of dating Jeopardy!'s host, said Jean, made her "really nervous," she told PEOPLE following their wedding in 1990. "I was afraid I'd mispronounce my own name! But Alex is really down to earth. He's much more casual than he is on the show."

02 of 15

September 1989: Alex Trebek proposes to Jean Currivan

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On Jean's 26th birthday in September 1989, Alex gave her black velvet pants and a matching bolero jacket. "I thought that was it," she said. "Then he said, 'Here's a little something else,' and he took out this little wicker box." Inside was a 16-carat sapphire ring, surrounded by six carats' worth of diamonds. "It took my breath away," Jean told PEOPLE. "I mean, it was a rock." Then he popped the question. "I went all dumb. I think I said, 'What?' "

03 of 15

April 30, 1990: Alex and Jean marry

Alex Trebek
Alex and Jean Trebek. Jean Trebek

During the couple's April 30, 1990, wedding, held before 150 guests at L.A.'s Regency Club, Trebek, always a jokester, responded to his critical cue by saying, "The answer is … yes."

04 of 15

1990: Alex and Jean say they aren't worried about their age difference

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In a 1990 interview with PEOPLE, the newlyweds insisted that their 24-year age disparity wasn't a problem. "At first it worried me," Trebek shared. "But then I thought, 'The hell with it. We'll make it work.' "

"I can understand why he was cautious about being with a younger woman," said Jean. "So I didn't try to push him. We just took it one day at a time."

05 of 15

1990: Alex and Jean learn they're pregnant

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"Alex was looking for a Jean," longtime friend Bob Murphy, once president of Merv Griffin Enterprises, told PEOPLE in 1990, "and he found her."

Three weeks after the couple's wedding, they discovered they were pregnant.

06 of 15

1991: Alex and Jean welcome son

After learning they were pregnant just three weeks after getting married, Alex and Jean welcomed their first child, son Matthew. Matthew is a restaurant owner in N.Y.C.

07 of 15

1993: Alex and Jean welcome second child

Alex and Jean welcomed their second child, daughter Emily, in 1993. Emily is a real estate agent in Los Angeles. Following her father's passing, she listed the home Alex purchased in 1991 for $6.995 million.

08 of 15

2019: Alex says he wishes he met Jean sooner

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In 2019, Trebek told PEOPLE he had just one regret in life.

"My wife Jean and I have been together almost 29 years, and I was thinking about President Bush when he died, and all the comments about his life about what a nice guy he is, and how he and his wife had been together 73 years. I thought, oh my gosh … if I'd just met Jean in my 20s we could have had a longer life together," he said.

However, he added jokingly, "I guess if I'd met her when I was in my 20s she wouldn't have been born yet. But hey, 29 years is pretty good!"

09 of 15

March 6, 2019: Alex reveals he has pancreatic cancer

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Alex Trebek and Jean Currivan Trebek. Michael Kovac/Getty

In his 2019 PEOPLE interview, Trebek told PEOPLE he and his wife are "homebodies." "I told the staff the other day, I cooked dinner for Jean, and we went out to a movie. That was big day in the Trebek household," he joked.

The couple's togetherness was all the more important as Trebek faced treatment for his stage four pancreatic cancer, a diagnosis he revealed publicly on March 6, 2019.

"Now normally the prognosis for this is not very encouraging," he said, "but I'm going to fight this."

10 of 15

May 2019: Alex says Jean is a "wonderful" caregiver

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"Jeannie is wonderful," Trebek told PEOPLE of his wife in May 2019. "She cried of course this morning when she got the [good] news [about my tumors shrinking]. But it's been a lot. It's a lot of pressure."

"My heart goes out to caregivers," he added. "Because they have to deal with their loved ones suffering and they also don't always know how to help because there's not much they can do, except try to make you feel more comfortable, at ease and not worry about ordinary stuff. They've also got to be strong and not allow their mate not to feel like they're downhearted too."

11 of 15

July 2020: Alex says wife Jean "kept me alive"

Alex Trebek
Alex and Jean Trebek in 2019. Michael Kovac/Getty Images

In his memoir, The Answer Is...Reflections On My Life (released July 2020), the longtime Jeopardy! host opened up about how Jean had been been his rock through his stage four pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

"She's kept me alive," he told PEOPLE. "If it weren't for Jean, I'd have put myself out of this a long time ago."

He continued of their bond, "Sometimes you look at something, you look at someone, and you know. I mean, you've heard stories of people who meet and decide within half an hour; I knew this was going to be the person I'd end up with. With Jeannie that's how it was. I wasn't looking for love. But I recognized at a gut level that here was someone who was going to complete me as a human being."

12 of 15

November 8, 2020: Alex Trebek dies after Stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis

Following a diagnosis of stage four pancreatic cancer in March 2019, Alex died on Nov. 8, 2020. Born in Ontario, he began his career at the Canadian Broadcasting Company in 1961. He hosted a few other game shows before taking on the role of Jeopardy! host in 1984, becoming a household name over the nearly 40 years that he starred on the series.

Despite his illness, Alex had no plans of retiring, though he'd admittedly thought about it. In March 2019, he told PEOPLE: "You get to a certain age, and if you've been doing the same show for 30 years, or the same job, whatever it is, for 30 years, wouldn't you think about retirement? What am I gonna do? I'm enjoying myself and I'm having a good time with what I'm doing now, but if I were to retire, what would I do? I'd be lost."

He continued: "My wife would say I'm getting on her nerves because I'm around all the time. I'm around most of the time anyway now except for two days."

13 of 15

October 2021: Jean says late husband Alex was her "most beloved friend"

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Calling Alex her "most beloved friend" in October 2021, Jean said that she never realized how much of an impact her late husband had on the world until he went public with his stage four pancreatic cancer.

"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," she shared, explaining how it was "important to Alex to keep his personal life separate from his professional life" aside from when they would make public appearances.

"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," she continued. "I started realizing just how much he was adored by people from all walks of life when he made his public announcement that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer."

"In looking back, the fact that I did not identify Alex as an 'icon' was a gift," she said. "We were equal partners in a marriage, and we had our own personal growth issues to deal with just like any ordinary couple."

"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," Jean added.

14 of 15

November 8, 2021: Jean posts inspiring clip from Alex's final 'Jeopardy!' days

In honor of the one-year anniversary of her husband's death, Jean posted a special video promoting the Compassion Project, an organization she and Alex had partnered with prior to his death.

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

In the video, Alex introduces the National Compassion Challenge, a program aimed at aiding teachers in "helping elementary students foster empathy and compassion for their classmates," he said.

15 of 15

May 4, 2022: Alex Trebek's family opens up about 'bittersweet' traditions

On what would have been Alex and Jean's 32nd wedding anniversary, the Trebek family came together to help raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. "It's a little bittersweet because this was the disease that took Alex's human life," Jean told PEOPLE at the event. "But, I also know what it pulled from him. His courage, his strength and that was what Alex, I know, wants to be remembered for."

Jean also thanked the fans for their overwhelming support since the Jeopardy! host's passing. "We love all of you and I wish there was a way we could let everyone know how much we really appreciate all the love and support that the family's receive and we send it right back to you."

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