Alex Trebek's son facilitates donation of his 'Jeopardy!' suits to charity

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·5 min read

Alex Trebek’s famous Jeopardy! suits will have a very important second life.

It was announced Tuesday that a large number of the TV host’s clothes 14 suits, 58 dress shirts, 300 neckties, 25 polo shirts, 14 sweaters, nine sports coats, nine pairs of dress shoes, 15 belts, two parkas and three pairs of dress slacks — have been donated by his family, spearheaded by son Matthew Trebek and Jeopardy! costumer Steven Zimbelman, to the Doe Fund. The organization works to break the cycles of homelessness, incarceration and criminal recidivism, and the clothes will be given to participants in its reentry program for job interviews.

On the website of Alex’s wife Jean— the Inside Wink website — Matthew wrote about being “approached by Rocky Schmidt, producer and long time, dear friend of my dad Alex Trebek, as to what I would like to do with all of my dad’s suits at the Jeopardy! Studio. I immediately thought of the Doe Fund,” a charity the Harlem, NY, restauranteur has been affiliated with.

Matthew said the charity’s flagship mission, which is “ready, willing and able,” is “something I knew my dad would be totally onboard with,” as Alex was generous when it came to helping the homeless people. “We live in a world where dressing appropriately can make a difference in how one feels about themselves and how one is perceived. Even though I know that it’s not all about what someone wears, there is something to be said for feeling a bit better about yourself when you have pride in your attire. My hope is that the confidence someone might feel in wearing one of my dad’s suits and ties will help them land a job, and more importantly, will help them realize that they are not alone.”

Jean wrote on Instagram that she “sincerely appreciates” her son and his “great idea,” adding, “It warms my heart to know that Alex’s suits will be donated to such an important cause.”

On Monday, Nicky Trebek, Alex’s elder daughter, adopted via his marriage to first wife Elaine Callei, shared a sweet photo of the Jeopardy! host, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8 at age 80, on the three-month anniversary of his death.

“It’s been 3 months and rather than post something sad I #choosejoy,” she wrote on Instagram.

She said the photo of Trebek pointing his hands in the air “always makes me laugh,” especially “thinking about how many times he did that trying to get it right.”

Nicky, who was a Jeopardy! producer until she stepped down earlier this year after her dad’s death, added hashtags “missing you always” and “milestones and memories.”

Her friend responded that she was so happy Nicky got her father’s bracelet, presumably the one seen in the photo. Nicky wrote back, “My brother has the original and my sister,” Alex and Jean’s daughter Emily, “and I have replicas. It’s wonderful the three of us have matching [ones].”

(Screenshot: Nicky Trebek via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Nicky Trebek via Instagram)

While Nicky, who is also a singer, didn’t say it explicitly, she could be referring to Trebek’s favorite Gucci bracelet that he wore all the time — and there’s a long history behind it.

The TV host’s mother found the bracelet in a CVS parking lot in the 1990s and gifted it to him. He wore it all the time, realizing after he did that the random find was actually Gucci and retailed for $800. The bracelet also came into play when a woman broke into his hotel room in 2011 and stole his wallet, plus Jean’s purse and bracelet. All was recovered but the bracelet, despite his repeated efforts to find it, including contacting the thief in prison. He said it was “heartbreak” to lose it due to its “sympathy value” and he searched for a replacement, as it was no longer made. After an extensive search, he was able to get a secondhand version and, in telling his wife his good news, she surprised him that she had one made. In 2019, when recounting the story, he said he had two of them — so it’s possible a third was made so all three kids could have their own version of his cherished bracelet.

On Father’s Day last year, Jean, who married Alex in 1990, paid tribute to her husband in a post on Inside Wink, writing about how they were “so blessed to have two wonderful children, Matthew and Emily. The older, Matthew, has a true sincerity and gentleness to him while being a natural born athlete. Emily was a very curious child, much like her Dad, and has a beautiful strong sense of self. Matthew and I are more ‘go with the flow’ people, while Emily and Alex suggest how the flow should go.”

She added of stepdaughter Nicky, “If that weren’t enough good fortune, we have the added benefit of Nicky being part of our family. Nicky is the daughter of Alex’s first wife, Elaine, whom I have great affection for. Nicky is a couple of years younger than me, and so I have also enjoyed getting to know her and I consider her to be one of my dearest friends. She is full of soulfulness with a dash of rock n’roll… a truly benevolent person.”

In the wake of Alex’s death, Jeopardy! has been operating with guest hosts until a permanent replacement is made. The latest ones to be announced are Dr. Mehmet Oz, Anderson Cooper, Savannah Guthrie and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who will follow Ken Jennings, Katie Couric, Mayim Bialik and Aaron Rodgers.

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