Alex Trebek memoir reveals moments of battle all the way through cancer …


LOS ANGELES — In a public address to “Jeopardy!” viewers last week, Alex Trebek assured fans that he was fine. “Feeling great,” in fact. The treatment for Stage IV pancreatic cancer was “paying off,” he said, and his numbers were good. Wearing one of his well-pressed blazers, his voice steady as ever, he playfully showed off the goatee he’d grown since the pandemic halted production in March.

But in private, Trebek — who recently turned 80 — has struggled. He admits he had moments of “complete discouragement” when he felt “ready to pack it in,” times when he thought about taking his own his life. And that bothers him. It’s not that he’s ashamed that suicidal thoughts have crossed his mind. He just doesn’t want to be perceived as a disappointment.

About Trebek
George Alexander Trebek (; born July 22, 1940) is a Canadian-American television personality, game show host and actor. He has been the host of the syndicated game show Jeopardy! since its revival in 1984, and has also hosted a number of other game shows, including The Wizard of Odds, Double Dare, High Rollers, Battlestars, Classic Concentration, and To Tell the Truth. Trebek is contracted to host Jeopardy! until 2022. Trebek has also made appearances in numerous television series, in which he usually played himself. A native of Canada, he became a naturalized American citizen in 1998.

Alex Trebek memoir reveals moments of struggle during cancer …

About memoir
A memoir (US: /ˈmemwɑːr/; from French: mémoire: memoria, meaning memory or reminiscence) is a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events, both public or private, that took place in the subject’s/person’s life. The assertions made in the work are understood to be factual. While memoir has historically been defined as a subcategory of biography or autobiography since the late 20th century, the genre is differentiated in form, presenting a narrowed focus. A biography or autobiography tells the story “of a life”, while a memoir often tells a story “from a life”, such as touchstone events and turning points from the author’s life. The author of a memoir may be referred to as a memoirist or a memorialist.

“You can’t be telling people ‘Keep your chin up, fight on!’ and then all of a sudden you counter that by: ‘What happened to Trebek?’ ‘Oh, he killed himself. He just got too discouraged,’” the quiz show host said in an interview from his office. “‘Well, hell, he was telling us to be positive. And then he did this negative thing.’ So, yeah. That’s the responsibility that has bothered me.”

Trebek’s new memoir, “The Answer Is … Reflections on My Life,” is dedicated to “those who are hoping to become survivors.” But as he reveals in the book — which was published Tuesday — the burden of serving as a beacon of hope has weighed on him. When he began chemotherapy, he started having crying spurts out of the blue. He was troubled by this and confided in his oncologist about the tears. The doctor advised Trebek that they were likely a side effect of his treatment.

Alex Trebek memoir reveals moments of struggle during cancer …

“He told me not to feel embarrassed, but I said, ‘I do feel a little embarrassed. I feel like a wuss. It’s not that men shouldn’t cry. It’s that, my God, Alex, get yourself together, here,’” Trebek recalled. Just the day before, he says, he started getting “very emotional for no reason that I can think of” while his son, Matthew, was preparing dinner. Noticing his father’s upset, the 30-year-old stopped cooking and came over to the kitchen table to pat his dad’s back.

“And then, the moment was gone. Thank God these things don’t last long. I know that now, so it doesn’t scare me as much as it used to.”

Trebek decided he wouldn’t write a soup-to-nuts autobiography. He describes it to readers as “a series of quick look-ins” that touch on the highlights of his life, including his early career, his favorite “Jeopardy!” contestants and his 30-year marriage to second wife Jean.

Trebek’s impartiality has become a cornerstone of his reputation. He made a conscious decision to keep his political views private so as not to “offend an important segment of our audience.” Born a Canadian, Trebek became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1998 and writes that he has since voted for both Republicans and Democrats.

He is also a rule-follower when it comes to socializing with “Jeopardy!” contestants. Trebek interacts with players only during commercial breaks, not just because of time limitations — he films five shows a day, twice a week — but also because he doesn’t want to create an impression of impropriety.

Trebek is well aware of what he has come to represent to viewers over his 36 years as the host of “Jeopardy!” He’s the reliable figure you can count on to appear on your television each weeknight, “not so much as a showbiz personality but as an uncle,” he writes.

He leans into this persona in the book, offering up wholesome tidbits about how he’s happiest sitting on the swing in his backyard or eating fried chicken and broccoli for dinner. He doesn’t drink alcohol, save for the occasional glass of chardonnay, instead preferring a tall glass of 1% milk in the middle of the night. He arrives everywhere 10 minutes early.

And he loves a routine, always arriving at the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City on tape days at 6 a.m. This gives him time to eat his daily Kit Kat and Diet Pepsi while spending an hour and a half reading through the day’s 305 clues. Then he reads the Los Angeles Times and attempts to complete the crossword puzzle.

“I think after 36 years, people have come to realize who I am and what I represent,” he said.