Alex Trebek always looked dapper in a crisp suit and tie when he was hosting Jeopardy! — but his son says it was an entirely different scenario at home.
“When I remember thinking about how my dad was dressed around the house and whatnot, all of his clothes had holes in them. They were all … tattered T-shirts and jeans and stuff. He would wear clothing until it just physically could not be worn anymore,” Matthew Trebek told As It Happens host Carol Off.
“But then obviously, when it was time to go out or at any event or if he was taping or anything, he would be able to have a complete 180 with his wardrobe, and he would always look, you know, very, very sharp and very well-dressed.”
It’s that slicker wardrobe that Jeopardy! and the Trebek family have donated to The Doe Fund, a U.S. charity that provides “vocational training, continuing education, and comprehensive social services to underserved Americans with histories of addiction, homelessness, and incarceration.”
The late Canadian host’s on-set suits, ties, shirts, shoes and belts be given to folks in the charity’s re-entry program, called Ready, Willing and Able, to wear on job interviews.
“We are so grateful for Jeopardy! and the Trebek family’s commitment to lifting up the most vulnerable among us,” Harriet McDonald, president of The Doe Fund, said in a press release.
“The men in our career training programs are always in need of professional attire, so they can shine in their job interviews and work with confidence once they’re hired. This donation alleviates the obstacle of not having appropriate clothing.”
The idea to donate the clothes to The Doe Fund came from Matthew Trebek, who runs a restaurant in Harlem, N.Y., just a few blocks away from one of the charity’s locations.
He says he and his partner were running a soup kitchen out of a church in the neighbourhood when he met Julie Androshick, vice-president of development for The Doe Fund. The pair of remained in touch ever since.
“It kind of just seamlessly fit together,” Trebek said. “The work that they do with these gentlemen … coming out of a pretty difficult situation, it just made sense for us.”
The donation includes 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 pants.
“I think if you’re coming from a place where you don’t have a suit or have not been able to go into a job interview feeling … your best, I imagine that the suit would hopefully help let you achieve that feeling a little bit easier,” Trebek said.
“Being that it is one of my dad’s suits, you know, if they were a fan of the show, that might add … an extra special feeling.”
It’s the kind of thing he thinks his father, who died of cancer in November 2020, would have approved of.
“I think he would feel really good about it,” he said. “My dad did a lot for others.”
That sentiment was echoed by Mike Richards, Jeopardy!‘s executive producer.
“During his last day on set, Alex extolled the virtues of everyone opening up their hands and their hearts to those who are suffering,” Richards said in a press release.
“Donating his wardrobe to those who are working to rebuild their lives is the perfect way to begin to honour that last request.”
Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview with Matthew Trebek produced by John McGill.