‘Jeopardy!’ Host Alex Trebek’s Unconventional Relationship with His Ex-Wife

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has been married to his wife, Jean, since 1990. Before marrying Jean, Trebek was married to his first wife, Elaine, from 1974 to 1981. Here’s what Trebek said about the unconventional relationship he has with his first wife.

Alex Trebek and his first wife lived a quiet life in California

Alex Trebek | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Alex Trebek | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Alex Trebek met his first wife, Elaine, in Toronto, Canada. Elaine has a daughter named Nicky, whom Trebek raised as his own. The couple were married in 1974 and Trebek’s mother came to California to help take care of the little girl.    

“We bought a house up on Mulholland Drive, and Elaine invited my mother, who was living in Florida, to come to California and live with us and help raise Nicky,” wrote Trebek in his book, The Answer Is… Reflections on My Life. “There was a guesthouse on the property. It was Elaine’s idea, not mine, to have Mom come. And it worked out great.”

After Alex Trebek and his ex-wife divorced, he moved across the street from her

Trebek and Elaine divorced in 1981 but they remained close friends. The split was peaceful and they decided not to use lawyers during the divorce process. The game-show host even purchased a home right across the street from his ex-wife.

“We divorced in 1981”, wrote Trebek. “It was amicable. We didn’t use attorneys. I think it cost about $320 in fees. We sold the house, and Elaine got the cash. I got a mortgage. She went out and bought another house. My mother went to live with her and continued to raise Nicky. I had no cash, so I borrowed a little money from Elaine and bought a house… directly across the street from her.”

Alex Trebek remains close to his ex-wife and her family

Many couples aren’t on the best of terms after a divorce and they do everything in their power to avoid interaction. This isn’t the case for Trebek and his first wife. He says they continue to visit each other and they even attend family gatherings together. Trebek refers to Nicky as his “daughter by osmosis.”

My relationships with Elaine and Nicky remain strong. Though I never adopted Nicky—her biological father was alive at the time—I refer to her as my daughter by osmosis. Elaine and my current wife, Jean, are close. When my kids, Emily and Matthew, were in high school, Elaine would give them summer jobs. Of all Hollywood-type wedding-divorce scenarios you can think of, ours is probably the least confrontational and contentious.

Alex Trebek in ‘The Answer Is… Reflections on My Life’

Trebek says he and Elaine didn’t have any issues that made them angry enough to curse at each other. They remain cordial to this day and he describes his family and Elaine’s family as close-knit.

“There were never any problems whatsoever that made us curse each other,” said Trebek. “We have get-togethers every year, usually at our house, but this year Nicky hosted Christmas dinner at her place. Elaine and her husband, Peter, were there, and Jeanie and me, and Nicky and Emily and Matthew, who flew in from New York. We’re all a very close-knit, happy family.”

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