Wendy Williams' Family Reveals Heartbreaking Struggles in PEOPLE Cover Story

Wendy Williams' Family Reveals Heartbreaking Struggles in PEOPLE Cover Story

In the hush that followed her final "How you doin'?" on TV two and a half years ago, Wendy Williams, the larger-than-life talk show host, found herself entangled in a web of challenges, unveiling a side of her life that was far from the glitz and glamour of the Hot Topics segment she once presided over.

As the former Wendy Williams Show host withdrew from the public eye, rumors about her well-being swirled. Now, in an exclusive PEOPLE cover story, Williams' family breaks their silence, recounting the shocking and heartbreaking struggles that have unfolded over the past three years.

In a twist of fate, what started as a documentary crew following Wendy Williams' comeback in August 2022, as she prepared to launch a new podcast, turned into an intimate exploration of her battle with alcohol addiction and health issues. Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder causing bulging eyes, and lymphedema, a condition leading to swelling in her feet, took center stage.

A poignant scene in the documentary captures Williams, on the cusp of turning 60, asking her driver to revisit the former Wendy Williams Show studio, only to forget the previous visit moments earlier. Her driver voices concern, noting, "I think she’s losing memory. She doesn’t know who I am sometimes." It's a heart-wrenching moment that paints a vivid picture of the challenges she faced.

The documentary ceased filming in April 2023 when Williams entered a facility to address "cognitive issues," linked to alcohol use. Currently, a court-appointed legal guardian is the sole person with unfettered access to her, leaving her family unable to visit. "The people who love her cannot see her," laments Wendy's sister, Wanda.

The unraveling of Wendy Williams' life took a public turn in Fall 2021 when season 13 of her show faced delays and eventually continued without her. Financial turbulence ensued as Wells Fargo froze her accounts, citing concerns about her mental state. The bank sought a temporary financial guardianship, citing the risk of financial exploitation due to cognitive issues.

Amid the financial struggles, Williams' son, Kevin Hunter Jr., faced scrutiny for his spending. He vehemently denies exploiting his mother and emphasizes his ongoing financial support from her. Williams claims her guardian, whose identity remains private, has stolen money from her, a claim that hasn't been substantiated.

In the midst of this turmoil, Williams spent time in Miami with family. Her son, Kevin Jr., recalls prioritizing her health over business concerns, ensuring she stayed away from alcohol, embraced a vegan diet, and worked with a trainer. However, the show disagreed with extending her visit, leading to tensions.

The abrupt cancellation of The Wendy Williams Show in June left fans and insiders bewildered. For Williams, who gained notoriety as a radio shock jock in the '90s, the show was a source of pride since its 2008 debut. Behind the scenes, sources reveal Williams struggled with drinking, with on-air incidents raising concerns.

In 2019, Williams revealed on the show that she had been living in a sober house, acknowledging past issues with cocaine. Her personal life took another hit when she filed for divorce from her husband, Kevin Hunter, in the same year. The combination of personal upheaval and the isolation imposed by the COVID-19 shutdown further intensified her struggles.

The documentary sheds light on Williams' journey, capturing moments of despair, such as being found drunk at a Louis Vuitton store in 2022. Despite interventions, including a two-month stint in a wellness facility, Williams continued to grapple with alcohol-related challenges.

The legal guardian and conservator systems in the U.S., thrust into the spotlight by high-profile cases like Britney Spears', are undergoing scrutiny. A 2022 New York State Assembly bill proposes expediting the guardianship hearing process, but Williams' family is not currently contesting her case.

Filmmakers behind the documentary grappled with ethical questions, wondering whether their project helped or hurt Wendy Williams. Ultimately, they believe it sheds light on the guardianship system's flaws and advocates for improvements.

Amid uncertainties, Williams' family echoes a singular focus – her health. The power to decide when, or if, Williams can leave the facility rests with her guardian. As the legal system undergoes reevaluation, the loved ones of Wendy Williams are determined to see her embark on the next chapter of her life, free from the struggles that have defined the past few years.

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