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How America’s bitchiest talk show host got bitten back: Wendy Williams earned $10m a season to mercilessly attack A-listers and even out them as gay. Then voracious addictions left her broke… and now her weary family reveal their fears for the worst

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‘From six years old, all I wanted was to be famous.’

So says Wendy Williams – aka America’s bitchiest talk show host – in the high-drama new trailer for a forthcoming documentary.

And by the end of it, one cannot help but conclude that Williams paid a terrible price for that yearning.

The once fearless and feared radio shock-jock and warrior queen of daytime TV is variously shown drunk, bursting into tears, struggling to walk, claiming she has no money, and screaming madly at everyone and everything.

At one point, her manager Will Selby tries to remove a half empty liquor bottle from her bedroom. ‘Keep the bottle there,’ she growls, eyes blazing.

It’s the first time Williams, 59, has been seen publicly in more than a year. And, as a woman who’s shown no mercy when it comes to dissecting the celebrity scandals of others, she would surely be the first to observe that she’s seen better days.

Given she was earning $10 million a season as the host of the Wendy Williams Show, which lasted 14 series until its abrupt cancellation in 2021, the news that she’s broke is – if true – particularly shocking.

As a woman who’s shown no mercy when it comes to dissecting the celebrity scandals of others, Williams would surely be the first to observe that she’s seen better days.

As a woman who’s shown no mercy when it comes to dissecting the celebrity scandals of others, Williams would surely be the first to observe that she’s seen better days.

Given she was earning $10 million a season as the host of the Wendy Williams Show, which lasted 14 series until its abrupt cancellation in 2021, the news that she’s broke is - if true -particularly shocking.

Given she was earning $10 million a season as the host of the Wendy Williams Show, which lasted 14 series until its abrupt cancellation in 2021, the news that she’s broke is – if true -particularly shocking.

Williams amassed an army of devoted fans for her acerbic takes on pop culture and endless on-air skirmishes with stars – averaging more than 1.6 million US viewers a day at the height of her fame.

Now, Williams is turning the spotlight back on herself in ‘Where is Wendy Williams?’, a two-part Lifetime documentary airing later this month, and boasting ‘unparalleled access’ to Williams and her family – which is hardly surprising given that she’s an executive producer.

‘I have no money, and I’m gonna tell you something,’ she says, staring manically at the camera. ‘If it happens to me, it could happen to you.’

Later, someone out of shot enquires her if she’s seen a neurologist. ‘To find out if I’m crazy?’ Williams asks. ‘Mmm-hmm.’

Her son Kevin Hunter Jr, 23, observes: ‘Mom has done a great job making it seem like everything is OK always, but in reality, there is something wrong going on.’

In truth, there’s been a lot wrong with Wendy Williams for years.

The financial guardianship which a New York judge placed on her in 2022 – after she was determined to be an ‘incapacitated person’ – was the culmination of myriad problems including a decades-long cocaine addiction, alcoholism, and complications from Graves’ disease – an immune system disorder.

Over the years, she’s happily shared with her audience those and other personal challenges such as her yo-yoing weight, plastic surgery obsession, a string of miscarriages and the humiliating breakdown of a marriage to her former manager, Kevin Hunter.

But back then, she was a multi-millionaire with a hugely successful show that even regularly beat Ellen DeGeneres’s viewing figures.

Clearly, her life has got very much worse since then.

And, thanks to her limitless capacity for personal disclosure and shameless attention-seeking, the roadmap to Williams’s spectacular rise and fall is one that she’s been more than happy to lay out over the years.

As a child she was such a loudmouth her schoolteacher parents developed a code to get her to calm down at social functions: ‘TL’ or ‘TF’, for ‘too loud’ or ‘too fast’.

She struggled with her weight from a young age – a crippling insecurity that was only fueled by pressure from her parents to control her eating – and found solace in music and celebrity magazines.

Williams amassed an army of devoted fans for her acerbic takes on pop culture and endless on-air skirmishes with stars - averaging more than 1.6 million US viewers a day at the height of her fame.

Williams amassed an army of devoted fans for her acerbic takes on pop culture and endless on-air skirmishes with stars – averaging more than 1.6 million US viewers a day at the height of her fame.

Now, Williams is turning the spotlight back on herself in ‘Where is Wendy Williams?’, a two-part Lifetime documentary airing later this month, and boasting ‘unparalleled access’ to Williams and her family - which is hardly surprising given that she’s an executive producer.

Now, Williams is turning the spotlight back on herself in ‘Where is Wendy Williams?’, a two-part Lifetime documentary airing later this month, and boasting ‘unparalleled access’ to Williams and her family – which is hardly surprising given that she’s an executive producer.

Growing up in the largely white New Jersey beach town of Asbury Park, most of Williams’s friends were white – and she preferred rock music to hip hop.

‘I was a multicultural woman who happens to be black,’ she later recalled.

In 2021, she revealed she was ‘date raped’ while at college – where she first started taking cocaine – and later suffered the same fate at the hands of the late 80s R&B singer Sherrick, after interviewing him on the radio. ‘Those types of things happen to girls all the time,’ she said.

Realizing that radio was a quicker route to the fame she craved than TV, she opted to pursue the former.

She got her first radio job in 1986, working as a DJ for a small station in the US Virgin Islands. But she preferred stirring up controversy to cueing up records.

Meanwhile, with more money, her cocaine abuse escalated into full addiction – lasting at least a decade.

By her own admission, her reliance on what she called the ‘white lady’ became so great that she’d regularly stop at the side of the road while driving between engagements and snort up to three grams a day.

She also took crack, admitting five years ago: ‘Crack is wack — but it was very good to me at a particular stupid point in my life.’

She has said the cocaine helped suppress her appetite and gave her the ‘chemical courage’ she needed. She has also described herself as a ‘functioning addict’ whose bosses cynically realized she was too valuable to be taken off air so she could get treatment.

Williams still insists she finally kicked her habit in the late 1990s – without going to rehab.

By 1990, she had a morning show on a New York’s Kiss FM – the first of a string of Big Apple and Philadelphia music stations where her scurrilous gossiping about celebrities and rappers – her specialty was outing macho performers as gay – started fierce feuds and drew demands from the likes of Bill Cosby and music-mogul Russell Simmons that she be taken off-air.

It was around this time that Williams started to herself become a topic of tabloid gossip when she started dating Eric B, of rap duo Eric B and Rakim.

She quickly became pregnant but had an abortion. ‘It was one of the loneliest experiences of my life,’ she later said.

More romantic heartbreak would follow. Despite admitting she has a weakness for ‘thugs’, she married mild-mannered first husband Bert Girigorie, who worked in her radio station’s sales and marketing department, in 1994.

It was a union destined to fail – with the pair even reportedly bickering during their honeymoon in Rio de Janeiro. They were divorced after just five months.

By her own admission, her reliance on cocaine became so great that she’d regularly stop at the side of the road while driving between engagements and snort up to three grams a day.

By her own admission, her reliance on cocaine became so great that she’d regularly stop at the side of the road while driving between engagements and snort up to three grams a day.

She also took crack, admitting five years ago: ‘Crack is wack. But it was very good to me at a particular stupid point in my life.’

She also took crack, admitting five years ago: ‘Crack is wack. But it was very good to me at a particular stupid point in my life.’

Williams met second husband, Kevin Hunter, the same year but they didn’t marry until 1999. He became her agent and she suffered three miscarriages before giving birth to their son Kevin in 2000.

A month after he was born, Williams discovered Hunter was having an affair.

Motherhood didn’t soften Williams’s ferocity on radio.

In fact, she had her most infamous on-air spat, with Whitney Houston, in 2003 after she grilled the superstar about her troubled marriage to rapper Bobby Brown, her sex life and her breast implants, which Williams indelicately compared to ‘two baseballs on a stick’.

Three years later, she provoked more celebrity angst when she revealed that the wife of Method Man, aka Wu-Tang Clan rapper Clifford Smith, had cancer before the couple had even been able to tell their loved ones.

Of course, radio couldn’t contain a planet-sized ego like hers forever.

In 2008, she moved to TV to begin the four-days-a-week ‘Wendy Williams Show’.

Williams toned down the most salacious content for daytime TV, but didn’t let up on her critiques of fellow stars.

She was frequently accused of going too far. In 2016, she questioned why singer Kesha hadn’t filmed her alleged sexual abuse by a record producer.

She also variously suggested Beyoncé was stupid, wished Britney Spears’s family would die, and mocked Joaquin Phoenix’s cleft-lip scar.

In 2018, she took one of many swipes at political correctness when she defended child sex offender R Kelly and said she was ‘sick of this Me Too movement’.

In 2020, it was the turn of gay and trans people to feel her displeasure: ‘Stop wearing our skirts and our heels,’ she barked.

But by then, she had more serious problems than angry viewers.

Her health issues first became apparent when she dramatically fainted live on air in 2017, regaining consciousness after an over-long emergency commercial break. At the time, some suspected she had faked the incident to get attention.

In 2019, she finally split from her cheating second husband Kevin Hunter, after he had a baby with another woman.

During a stint in rehab for her drinking, she hired a private detective to follow Hunter – discovering that he had a house with his mistress just nine miles from their own $2 million family home in Livingston, New Jersey.

She later revealed to fans she was staying in a sober-living facility in Florida, reportedly being treated for alcohol and pill addiction.

In 2019, she finally split from her cheating second husband Kevin Hunter (pictured), after he had a baby with another woman.

In 2019, she finally split from her cheating second husband Kevin Hunter (pictured), after he had a baby with another woman.

She later revealed to fans she was staying in a sober-living facility in Florida, reportedly being treated for alcohol and pill addiction.

She later revealed to fans she was staying in a sober-living facility in Florida, reportedly being treated for alcohol and pill addiction. 

She also said she’d been struggling for years with Graves’ Disease, which can cause an overactive thyroid (with symptoms including, among other things, the bulging eyes that now afflict her) and lymphedema, which can cause the arms and legs to swell.

Behind the scenes of her show, staff described how Williams was falling to pieces.

Producers on at least 25 occasions had to question her sobriety to bosses. Insiders said they would discover ‘bottles [of alcohol] up in the ceiling tiles and other weird places in the office’.

By the summer of 2021, Williams was spending most of her time in hospitals and at doctors’ surgeries, with experts baffled to explain symptoms that included confused speech, brain fog, memory loss and even hallucinations.

When her show returned to screens that fall, it was instead presented by a series of guest hosts – before ending abruptly in June 2022, with its eponymous host embarrassingly absent from the final episode.

‘The life that I’m living right now is my best life, and I have no guilt about saying that,’ she said in a 2021 interview. ‘I like who I am, so I have no regrets.’

Judging by her chaotic appearance on her recent documentary trailer, her ‘best life’ may be well behind her.

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