But the game-show guru, who has now hosted Jeopardy! for 35 years,says his one regret in life is that he didn’t meet his his wife Jean Currivan earlier.
“I’m pretty satisfied with my life,” the Ontario-born Trebek, 78, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on stands Friday. “But 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 adds 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!”
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The couple, who married in 1990 and live in Los Angeles, have two children together: Matthew, 29, a restaurateur in Manhattan who owns Oso (a popular Mexican restaurant in North Harlem), and Emily, 27, who works in real estate in Los Angeles. Trebek also has an older daughter Nicky, 53, whom he adopted when he was married to Nicky’s mom, his first wife Elaine Callei. She’s a production coordinator on Jeopardy! and a singer-songwriter.
And they couldn’t be prouder parents.
“They’re really sharp, and have done their due diligence in their respective endeavors,” Trebek says of their children. Jean, 54, adds, “They’re both very compassionate, sensitive people. They’re really the best of Alex and I. You can talk to them. They’re our good friends.”
As for what makes he and Jean tick after all these years, Trebek says they equally love staying home as opposed to going out.
“I like to fix things,” says Trebek, a self-described homebody who notes that his time off is usually spent reading and tinkering around the house, taking machines apart and repairing them. “I was never into going out to clubs. It wasn’t my scene.” He adds they also usually like to watch movies together in bed after dinner.
“The other night was a red-letter day,” he jokes. “I cooked for my wife and then we went out to a movie.”
Jean says she and Trebek were just friends for a while after they first met, but there was something about him that she couldn’t shake.
“There was just this deep sensitivity about him with a gruffy exterior,” she says. “I kept thinking, he’s 24 years older than me .. but there was something that just kept drawing me to him.”
She notes that though they’ve been happily together for almost 30 years, they have their ups and downs just like any other couple.
“We have our challenges,” she says. “And then we have our really beautiful times, where we’re just so blessed to know that we’re in each other’s courtyard.”
One thing that keeps her drawn to him?
“He’s got a great sense of humor,” she says. “He takes his job very seriously, but won’t take himself too seriously.” He’s also youthful. “He’s just an intelligent human being,” Jean says. “Part of Alex’s staying youthful is his staying curious.”