Gilbert and Trebek met at an industry convention before the relaunch of the game show in 1984, according to People magazine.
“I noticed that he wasn’t the usual big-smiley-face emcee,” the 96-year-old told the outlet of the encounter for its collector’s edition, which celebrates Trebek. “He was quiet and listening to everybody and everything.”
Gilbert, who has had a career that’s spanned for seven decades, noted that Trebek “has always been the same person.”
“He was very introspective, he read a tremendous amount and traveled a lot,” Gilbert said. “He was always doing crossword puzzles to keep his mind active.”
Trebek died on Nov. 8 after a lengthy battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He kept fans updated on his health every step of the way, and he continued to do his job hosting the popular trivia show.
In the interview with People, Gilbert remembered Trebek as “really very intelligent.”
“He was always telling the youngsters in the audience, ‘You’ve got to read, you have to learn. That’s the way you’re going to succeed,'” he shared.
Gilbert recalled how during commercials breaks Trebek would take questions from the audience.
“He would answer any question anyone wanted to ask,” Gilbert said. “He would get so involved that we would have to hold up coming back out of commercial for him to finish with the audience, but he insisted.”
There were a lot of questions that Gilbert said were silly, but Trebek always found a way to infuse humor into his answers.
“One gal asked him, ‘Boxers or briefs?’ Alex took a beat and said, ‘Thongs!’ I told him a long time ago, ‘If this show goes away, you could be a stand-up comedian,'” Gilbert said. “He always loved to do jokes.”
Following the beloved longtime “Jeopardy!” host’s death, Gilbert — who, according to the outlet, was also golfing pals with Trebek — said that the mood on-set has understandably changed.
“Everybody’s walking around in a little bit of a fog, shaken from the whole thing,” he said. “Part of me left here when Alex left, really.”
“Jeopardy!” previously revealed that it will air 10 of Trebek’s episodes during the weeks of Dec. 21 and 28 to celebrate his life, and it will air his final week of episodes beginning on Jan. 4.