What Happened To Wendy Williams?

This article contains mentions of drug use that may be triggering.

The queen of the purple throne has been bringing some seriously hot topics to millions of television screens since 2008 with her wildly popular "The Wendy Williams Show." Over the years, Wendy Williams has shocked, entertained, and gotten herself into some hot water with her controversial daytime talk show. However, the celebrity drama and gossip she dished on air brought high ratings and established Williams as a bold, un-PC, and slightly shady commentator on all things pop culture.

For many years, the television host never missed a day of filming and remained loyal to her fan base. However, Williams' viewers noticed a change in her around 2017 and from there, she began to dip in and out of her show, citing health issues. Sadly, after a series of illnesses, diagnoses, and doctor-mandated time off, Williams' health deteriorated, which ultimately led to the end of her long-standing television show.

Fans of "The Wendy Williams Show" were devastated by its cancellation, but many more were concerned and confused as to what happened to Wendy Williams. We'll dig into everything that's happened to the TV host, from her infamous fainting spell to the diagnosis of her autoimmune disorder, as well as how Williams is doing today.

She got her start on the radio

Wendy Williams has been sharing her contentious comments with the world for decades, having gotten her start on the radio. The New Jersey native majored in communications at Northeastern University in Boston, where she also DJ'd for her college radio station. Starting in 1989, Williams worked on New York's 98.7 KISS FM and became a Billboard Award-winning DJ, as she was recognized for Best On-Air Radio Personality in 1993.

In 2001, WBLS-FM offered Williams her own syndicated drive show, and the "shock jockette" used the opportunity to stir the pot and interview several celebrities for the eight years it ran. Possibly her most infamous interview at the time was with the iconic Whitney Houston in 2003 (via YouTube). Williams questioned the singer about her current drug use, to which Houston replied, "Who are you talking to? ... No, you're not talking to me, I'm a mother. Only my mother is privy to that information, you talk to your child about that. Ask me those questions like I'm a child." A series of expletives followed, and the interview only went downhill from there.

Although Houston was put on the spot, her defensive response drove the ratings for Williams' show up exponentially. A couple of years later, the self-proclaimed Queen of Radio excitedly told New York Magazine, "That interview was No. 19 on the E! Network's 101 Most Shocking Moments. I beat out Richard Pryor setting himself on fire."

Wendy Williams has had more than a few controversial moments

Whether you're a longtime fan of "The Wendy Williams Show" or hate it with a passion, you've likely at least heard about some of Wendy Williams' most controversial moments. The majority of comments that put the host under fire involved mocking celebrities in tasteless fashion, including remarks about Joaquin Phoenix's cleft lip scar, Rob Kardashian's lack of confidence, and Beyoncé's level of education. Williams has also made problematic comments about gay and transgender issues, claiming Caitlyn Jenner still had "a member" and that gay men "will never be the women that we are" (via Us Weekly).

In 2021, following Britney Spears' testimony in court over her conservatorship, Williams shared her support for the pop star. However, in doing so, she made a comment that many dubbed extreme. In the clip, she said, "How dare you, Mr. Spears, you had me fooled. And you too, Mrs. Spears. Death to all of them" (via YouTube). Williams' audience audibly gasped and it was clear that even her fans couldn't stand behind wishing death upon Spears' parents.

Despite the bad press, Williams stands firm with her comments. In 2019, she told The New York Times, "I am often accused of being the person who says things that people really want to say but maybe are too scared to say it ... I get in trouble sometimes, but it's all good. Actually, I can't even think of what kind of trouble."

She fainted live on air in 2017

It was around 2017 that "The Wendy Williams Show" fans began to speculate that the show's host might not be in very good health. For her Halloween episode that year, Wendy Williams dressed up as the Statue of Liberty and was introducing the next segment, a costume contest. Her voice cracked, her eyes widened, and she took a couple of shaky steps back before passing out on the stage floor. "The Wendy Williams Show" cut to commercial, leaving viewers lost for words.

Following the terrifying incident, Williams spoke on "Good Morning America" about what happened. "People thought I was having a stroke on TV, and other people thought that I was having a heart attack," she explained (via YouTube). The host refuted the rumors and said her fainting spell was in fact caused by her tight costume and dehydration.

Williams said her crew initially thought she was pulling a stunt, saying, "The crew and security here thought that the bug-eyed look I gave was part of a stunt, 'cause I'm always doing tricks. ... So nobody came out until I hit the ground." She didn't let the incident ruin the episode, though, and once she had checked in with the paramedics, she was right back in her seat to reassure the audience that she was all right.

Wendy Williams has Graves' disease and hyperthyroidism

After a fair amount of speculation from fans over her health, Wendy Williams revealed in 2018 that she had been diagnosed with Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid. A representative of Williams released a statement to "Today" in February 2018 that read, "Wendy has been openly dealing with her Graves' disease for many years in addition to hyperthyroidism. Yesterday, Wendy's doctor prescribed a necessary three weeks of rest to get her levels and medication in sync." Filming for "The Wendy Williams Show" was postponed while the host rested.

The television host also gave an interview to People the following month about her condition. "I had a storm going in my body is the best way I can explain it," she said. Some of her symptoms included bulging eyes, high blood pressure, and difficulty sleeping, but she hadn't taken her situation seriously at first. 

Williams explained that she had missed a few medical appointments for other work and family matters, but managed to receive treatment and said, "I'm glad my situation was caught in a timely manner." She added that her husband at the time, Kevin Hunter, had been by her side throughout the entire diagnosis process: "He was with me every step."

She was addicted to cocaine

Wendy Williams has never shied away from sharing her personal struggles, including the years she spent addicted to cocaine. In 2019, she shared with her audience that she was still working on her sobriety. "Well, for some time now and even today and beyond I have been living in a sober house. ... And you know I've had a struggle with cocaine in my past. I never went to a place to get the treatment. I don't know how, except God was sitting on my shoulder, and I just stopped" (via YouTube). 

Her emotional statement to her audience came just before The Daily Mail released an exposé on her living situation, and sources claim that Williams had wanted to get out in front of the piece.

In 2021, her biopic "Wendy Williams: The Movie" was released, and it showcased exactly how Williams (who was an executive producer for the film) fell into her cocaine usage. She had struggled with her weight as a child and had tried diets, per her mother's advice, but when she began working in radio, she learned that cocaine would help her lose weight. In a voice-over in the film, Williams said, "This particular diet was a whole lot more fun than tuna fish in brine with mustard. Coke was everywhere in those days, it suppressed my appetite and gave me all the chemical courage I thought I needed" (via People).

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

She's taken breaks from her show due to her health

In February 2018, Wendy Williams took three days off from filming "The Wendy Williams Show" after experiencing flu-like symptoms. When she returned, she told her viewers, "I apologize to those of you who had tickets for the show Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I was not here. I was fluish with complications. But no more" (via Us Weekly). Just a week later, Williams' Graves' disease diagnosis was revealed and the host took an additional three-week hiatus to rest.

In late 2018, Williams suffered a hairline fracture to her shoulder and, in one episode, had been slurring her words. She penned an apology on her Instagram that read, "I sincerely apologize if you feel that today's show was less than stellar. ... As I reported earlier in the week, I have a hairline fracture on my upper arm, which hurts like hell. ... In the key place where the fracture is, and trying to scurry around and do too much, I am now paying the price" (via Us Weekly). 

The show's 2019 return faced a two-week delay while Williams recovered from her shoulder surgery, as well as further complications she was experiencing, caused by Graves' disease.

Wendy Williams also suffers from lymphedema

After the paparazzi snapped photos of Wendy Williams' swollen ankles in 2019, she revealed to her audience that she was diagnosed with lymphedema, a condition that's caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system and leads to a buildup of lymph in the tissues. While live on "The Wendy Williams Show," she told her fans, "Lymphedema, by the way, I've been diagnosed. It's not going to kill me, but I do have a machine — and how dare you talk about the swelling of it all" (via People).

In a 2022 interview with TMZ, Williams got candid about her condition. She asked the interviewers, "You know I have lymphedema, you know what that is, correct?" When they replied that they didn't, Williams held up her apparently swollen foot to explain, "Do you see this? It's up and down. I can only feel maybe five percent of my feet. Do you understand?" 

She added that she would normally be in a wheelchair, but that she currently prefers to stand.

Her husband had a child with somebody else

Wendy Williams' health issues are far from the only troubles the television host has been facing. She married Kevin Hunter in 1997, and he had been her longtime manager and husband of over two decades when she decided to file for divorce in 2019. A source told People, "The split is definitely due to Kevin's ongoing infidelity and that his mistress recently welcomed their child. ... The decision to split was terribly hard for her, but she's regaining her health. She decided she needed to finally put herself first." Hunter cheated on Williams in the past, after she gave birth to their son, as she shared in her memoir. However, this seemed to be the last straw for her.

In a 2019 interview with The New York Times, Williams seemed to confirm the rumors. "Kevin had a major indiscretion that he will have to deal with for the rest of his life. An indiscretion that I will not deal with. ... I'm a very forgiving person, but there's one thing that I could never be a part of, and that one thing happened." When pressed to disclose what this one indiscretion had been, the television host replied, "Kevin has a daughter."

Having her partner betray her that way must have been devastating for Williams, but things seem to be looking up. In August 2022, she revealed that she had been dating a New York City Police Department officer.

She didn't return to her show for Season 13 amid health issues

Amid all of her health issues between 2017 and 2021, Wendy Williams' fans and family had plenty to be concerned about. But come Season 13 of "The Wendy Williams Show," Williams was facing even more difficulties, and she was unable to host her talk show. She initially contracted COVID-19, which resulted in the premiere date being pushed. It was postponed a second time as, although Williams recovered from COVID-19, it was announced that she was "experiencing serious complications as a direct result of Graves' disease and her thyroid condition," a now-deleted statement from her show read.

A series of guest hosts was relied upon during Williams' absence, including Michael Rapaport, Fat Joe, Remy Ma, Bevy Smith, and of course Sherri Shepherd. Ultimately, it was Shepherd who became the permanent host for Season 13 of "The Wendy Williams Show" when it was announced that Williams wouldn't be returning for the remainder of the season. 

A source told People, "[Wendy's] healing is going slower than everyone had hoped. She continues to deal with a number of medical issues, including Graves' disease, and she and her team are taking it one day at a time. ... Whether Wendy can return in the fall will depend on how her healing goes over the summer."

Her bank referred to her as an incapacitated person

In 2022, Wendy Williams faced even more hardship when Wells Fargo denied the television host access to her own bank account. She had suspected her financial adviser, an employee of Wells Fargo, of misconduct and wished to change banks, but now she believes the adviser lied in order to keep Williams' assets locked up. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the bank claimed in a petition that she was an "incapacitated person" and was the "victim of undue influence and financial exploitation."

Williams filed an affidavit with the New York Supreme Court, which read in part, "Despite my decision to terminate [Lori] Schiller as a result of her improper conduct in relation to my accounts, Wells Fargo continues to deny me access to my financial assets and statements." 

A temporary financial guardianship was placed over Williams while the case is pending, which the talk show host has deemed unnecessary. As Wells Fargo stood by its decision, Williams' attorney shared in a statement, "It saddens Wendy that Wells Fargo has chosen to believe the allegations of a former employee who is upset because she no longer has direct and unfettered access to Wendy's financial affairs."

The Wendy Williams Show ended in 2022

After 13 wildly successful and controversial seasons, "The Wendy Williams Show" aired its final episode on June 17, 2022, and Wendy Williams sadly was not in attendance. Sherri Shepherd, who had been hosting in place of Williams while she was away, hosted the final episode which included a montage of the show over the years. Mort Marcus, co-president of Debmar-Mercury, the production company behind "The Wendy Williams Show," told Variety, "We were protecting the business, while we waited for [Williams]. And at some point, we had to say, 'We have a business to run and she's not here.' It was a hard call."

In an exclusive interview following the finale of her show, Williams explained to New York Post, "There was nothing I liked about the [the final episode of] 'Wendy Williams Show.'" When asked why she didn't make a final appearance, Williams responded, "[Debmar-Mercury] didn't ask me to do that, so I didn't. I sat in my apartment and I watched it. And [I was] like, 'Eek!'"

But Williams isn't all doom and gloom about the end of "The Wendy Williams Show." In her chat with New York Post, she toyed with the idea of starting a podcast or maybe opening a restaurant. Williams concluded, "Maybe I'll go back on TV. Perhaps, I don't know. I've got so much money, I can do anything I want, or nothing at all."

Wendy Williams checked into a wellness facility

Throughout her decades-long career, fans have witnessed Wendy Williams transform from shock jockette on the radio to bold commentator on television, but now that "The Wendy Williams Show" is no more, many are wondering what's next for her. It seems like the talk show host will resurface, but not just yet, as she's still struggling with her health.

In September 2022, Williams' publicist Shawn Zanotti shared with Entertainment Tonight that she had checked into a wellness facility. "The focus is not on anything from her past. The only focus we have at this time is for Wendy to continue to strive at getting better and moving forward," he said. Williams seemed to disappear from the spotlight for a while, and in May 2023, Williams pulled out of a keynote speaker gig at the Atlanta Women's Expo. She was meant to share insight into her career and journey in the entertainment industry, but it seemed she wasn't well enough to do so at the time.

The following month, Williams' manager, Will Selby, spoke with Entertainment Tonight, confirming that the talk show host was still in a treatment facility. "Wendy is at a facility doing her best to be her best. She's taking it day by day," he shared. Zanotti also spoke with the outlet to discredit previously published stories, saying Williams had not been hospitalized, as The Sun had previously reported.