In his memoir, The Answer Is…, the host of Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek, explained that he wasn’t born with an innate respect for women.
It happened in the most unlikely of places: while the television icon was moving furniture, of all things.
Alex Trebek calls his wife Jean ‘a saint’
The 80-year-old Trebek, who was diagnosed with advanced cancer in March 2019, has said of late that his wife, Jean, has been unwaveringly by his side. Even when he has gotten testy with her.
“There was one day a few weeks ago when [my wife] Jeanie asked me in the morning, ‘How do you feel?,’” he told ABC News in July 2020. “And I said, ‘I feel like I wanna die.’ It was that bad. I apologize to her and explain that it has nothing to do with my love for her or my feelings for her.”
“It just has to do with the fact that I feel like I’m a terrible burden to her, and that bothers me tremendously.”
The quiz show host is grateful for his wife of 30 years and her rock-solid support.
“She’s a saint,” he said. “She has so much goodness in her that she is always giving out, always putting out to help me get over difficult moments. And there have been some difficult moments. I’m just in awe of the way she handles it.”
Moving a couch and getting stumped
In his memoir, The Answer Is…, Trebek relates the story of the day he and his father, George, were trying their best to get a sofa through a door. The author’s mother and father had divorced, with his mother having moved to the United States and his father remaining in their native Canada.
George had been working as a chef at an Ontario restaurant and with business slow, asked his son, Alex, to help him move a couch into another room.
“I was visiting him one holiday,” Trebek wrote, “and he wanted to move a sofa from one room to the next. He asked if I would help him.”
The two men, working together, were having a difficult time getting the furniture through the door.
“We tried to move the sofa,” he recalled, “but it was too wide to go through the doorway. We stood it on end and tried to twist it in, but it was too deep to go through the doorway. We were going crazy. We were there half an hour trying to get this through the door.”
The woman who changed Alex Trebek’s view
The fact that Trebek included this story in his one and only memoir says so much about him as a person. One, that the event stuck in his mind after all these years. And two, that he’s clearly teachable and humble enough to be open to a new way of viewing a situation.
His story continued with his father’s neighbor, Evelyn’s, arrival.
“Evelyn, one of his neighbors, who also happened to be the head waitress at the restaurant, walked by, took a quick look, and said, ‘Why don’t you open the sofa into a bed?’”
Evelyn’s suggestion was the ticket. Alex was impressed with Evelyn’s thinking outside the box. His father? Not so much.
“We laid [the sofa] flat, stood it up on its edge, and slid it easily through the doorway,” he explained. “No problem at all. My father was p*ssed as all get-out. It was as if his manhood had been attacked.”
“Me, I thought, ‘Holy smokes, she’s brilliant. Women are sharp.’ And that little incident colored my view of women from that day forward. I never underestimated women after that.”
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