It took until near the end for Jean Trebek to realize how beloved her husband really was by the public.

In an interview with Eden magazine, the widow of late “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek opened up about her marriage to the TV icon.

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“Alex was my dear husband and my most beloved friend,” she said. “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 added that it “was important to Alex to keep his personal life separate from his professional life, unless it was ‘needed.'”

Jean continued, “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.”

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That privacy apparently kept her from truly comprehending how much the public loved the Canadian-born icon.

“I knew the show was very successful and that people really liked him — a lot,” she said. “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. We received cartons of mail every day filled with get-well cards… at our home address, and I knew that the studio was receiving so much more. It was astonishing!”

She added, “In looking back, the fact that I did not identify Alex as an ‘icon’ was a gift. 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.”

Trebek announced his diagnosis with stage 4 pancreatic cancer on March 6, 2019. He passed away in November 2020 at age 80.