The truth about Alex Trebek’s first wife

When Alex Trebek died, following his battle with pancreatic cancer, the Jeopardy! host was survived by his wife of 30 years, Jean Currivan Trebek, their two kids Matthew and Emily Trebek, and Nicky Trebek, his ex-wife Elaine Trebek Kares’ daughter. In his 2020 book, The Answer Is . . .: Reflections on My Life, Alex shared that he married Elaine, then Elaine Callei, in 1974, and that his mother, Lucille Lagacé moved in with the family to help raise Elaine’s then-six year old daughter, Nicky, who he described as “cute as all get out.”

Alex continued to raise Nicky as his own daughter after his “amicable” 1981 divorce from Elaine. “We didn’t use attorneys,” he recalled in the memoir, adding, “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.” This was before he caught his big break hosting Jeopardy!. Alex recalled, “I had no cash, so I borrowed a little money from Elaine and bought a house… directly across the street from her.”

Alex continued, “My relationships with Elaine and Nicky remain strong.” Even though he never legally adopted Nicky, he calls her his “daughter by osmosis.” He also revealed, “Elaine and my current wife, Jean, are close.” He further described his split from Elaine as “the least confrontational and contentious,” which makes sense since they continued to be a part of each other’s lives and families. 

Alex Trebek's first wife is a successful entrepreneur

Elaine Trebek Kares (pictured above right with daugther Nicky) and Alex Trebek split in 1981, before he started hosting Jeopardy! in 1984. Alex and Elaine remained so close post-divorce that he shared, “When my kids, Emily and Matthew, were in high school, Elaine would give them summer jobs,” referring to the children he shares with his wife Jean Currivan Trebek (via The Answer Is . . .: Reflections on My Life). Alex further revealed, “There were never any problems whatsoever that made us curse each other. … We have get-togethers every year, usually at our house. … We’re all a very close-knit, happy family.”

After the divorce, Elaine started ScentSeal, which was a company that packaged perfume fragrances for samples, according to Distractify. In 1995, Arcade bought ScentSeal, per Ad Age. In addition to creating the fragrance samplers, the company also “added a solid polymer system for food and beverages” and worked with “Kraft Foods’ International Coffees and Maxwell House, and Seagram Co.’s Seagram’s Wine Coolers.” When Arcade acquired ScentSeal, Elaine became the senior VP-worldwide in marketing for Arcade. 

Closer Weekly offered a glimpse into Elaine’s pre- and post-Alex life, claiming she was also “a Canadian talk show host, party planner, and Playboy bunny” in the past — and in addition to ScentSeal, the outlet noted that she also owns “a multimedia music distributor Mag-A-Music, and Gallery GO, an art gallery in LA.” She became Elaine Trebek Kares when she married producer Peter Kares in 2001. They made business deals together and continued a close friendship with Alex up until the very end. 

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