Ruta Lee said she will always cherish the memories of her friend Alex Trebek.
The star, who chaired “Jeopardy! For more than 30 years, died in 2020 at the age of 80 in his home in Los Angeles, surrounded by his family. The game show host announced in 2019 that he has advanced pancreatic cancer.
“We were very close,” the actress told Fox News. “We were neighbors. We lived within a mile of each other. “
Lee recently wrote a memoir titled “Consider Your A — Kissed! Where she shared personal memories in Hollywood. She has worked with many stars over the years including Frank Sinatra, Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, Johnny Carson and Fred Astaire, to name a few. The “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” actress has also befriended many other prominent women, including Lucille Ball, Julie Newmar and Debbie Reynolds, among others.
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Lee said she was still friends with Trebek’s widow and ex-wife.
“They are my dearest friends,” she said. “And we see each other together, which I think is quite sophisticated. You know you’ve done a good job when you can get together with the women. But that’s exactly the kind of man Alex was. “
“And it tasted wonderful,” she continued. “They are both beautiful. One was a Playboy bunny years ago. And the other could have been a beauty queen. She is simply beautiful. But more importantly, they’re both beautiful on the inside.
“Let’s just put it that way, and I talked about it in the book. Alex and his first wife Elaine have remained great friends. In fact, it was Alex who accompanied Elaine to her new husband Peter Kares. He was just a sophisticated and wonderful man. “
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Lee said that if Trebek hadn’t capitalized on his decades-long success as a beloved game show host, he could easily have taken the stage as a stand-up comic.
“He was one of the funniest human beings I have ever known,” she said. “You wouldn’t know it just by seeing it. But he could easily have been a stand-up comic. His flow was remarkable. “
“He didn’t just tell jokes,” Lee explained. “He was throwing a punchline that somehow got in the middle of everything he said serious. You couldn’t help but laugh. Everyone who knew him loved him. And me too. “
Trebek, who left Canada for the United States in 1973, appeared in “The Wizard of Odds”, “High Rollers”, “The $ 128,000 Question” and “Double Dare”. Even while running on Jeopardy! Trebek has worked on other shows. In the early 90s, he hosted three – “Jeopardy! »,« To tell the truth »and« Classic Concentration ».
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But it was “Jeopardy! Which made him famous. He won five Emmy Awards as a host and received stars on the Hollywood and Canadian Steps of Fame. In 2012, the show won a prestigious Peabody Award.
That same year, Trebek admitted he was considering retiring, but friends urged him to stay so he could reach 30 on the show. He always loved the job, he said, “What’s not to love? You have the security of a familiar environment, a familiar format, but you have the excitement of new clues and new candidates with each program. You can’t beat that! “
He became a US citizen in 1997. Trebek was married to Elaine Callei from 1974 to 1981. In 1990 he married Jean Currivan and they had two children, Emily and Matthew. Trebek lived with his family in the Studio City section of Los Angeles, not far from Hollywood.
In 2019, Lee told Fox News that she was on the “High Rollers” game show with Trebek.
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“Well, every moment was fun,” she explained. “But I think the most fun we had was when we were off the stage. Privately he has become a close and dear friend to this day… Then of course when Alex married Jean – it became a huge highlight. the most beautiful and wonderful creatures in the world. I love Alex’s women. “
At the time, Lee said she hadn’t lost her dynamism as an artist and was grateful to everyone she met along the way.
“I am either blessed or cursed,” Lee said of what kept her going. “I never know what it is. I have a very, very high energy. I hate training, I hate rehearsals, but I love to play. There is something wonderful about it, especially on stage with a live audience, even if it is for television. The energy that you get back, that back, it’s so wonderful. You develop this great relationship with your audience that makes the world go round for me. “
The Associated Press contributed to this report.