'The Wendy Williams Show': Its start, its end and the fainting incident that made headlines

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It’s been more than two years since Wendy Williams stepped away from her daytime talk show, “The Wendy Williams Show.”

The syndicated program aired for 13 seasons, though Williams did not host the final season due to ongoing health issues.

Williams, 59, has experienced multiple health challenges through the years, which led her to take multiple breaks from her hosting duties.

Recently, Williams’ representatives said in a release that she had been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

FTD is a neurodegenerative disease that can affect speech, behavior and personality, according to the Mayo Clinic. Primary progressive aphasia is a neurological condition that can affect speech and communication abilities, also per the Mayo Clinic.

Williams currently has a court-appointed legal guardian who oversees her money and her health.

She, along with family members like her son, is set to return to the airwaves in a two-part Lifetime documentary, “Where Is Wendy Williams?”, which will offer an intimate look at the talk show host’s life since her talk show ended, according to Lifetime. Her court-appointed legal guardian filed a sealed lawsuit against A&E Networks, Lifetime's parent company.

“All I know is how to be famous,” Williams says in a trailer for an upcoming documentary. “I really want to be back on television.”

In the trailer, Williams also speaks emotionally about her financial woes and experiences with addiction.

Williams was often candid with her fans about her personal struggles throughout her talk show’s long run.

Read on for more about the history of “The Wendy Williams Show,” including when it began and ended, and who took over the show’s timeslot.

When did 'The Wendy Williams Show' start?

“The Wendy Williams Show” launched in July 2008 with a six-week trial run, and was picked up for a full season the following year.

Many already knew Williams from her nationally syndicated radio show, “The Wendy Williams Experience,” which aired from 2001 to 2009.

Williams described her attitude toward hosting a television talk show in an interview with The New York Times before her TV show launched nationally in July 2009.

“People that I’ve talked to regarding the TV show, they’re asking: Who are your guests going to be? Am I nervous to go out there? What do you think America’s going to say?” she said. “I’m not overconfident. It’s just that I’m not caught up in that. What will be, will be. The die is cast. I can’t be anybody but me.”

Wendy's Season 10 Tour - Atlanta, Georgia (Paras Griffin / Getty Images)
Wendy's Season 10 Tour - Atlanta, Georgia (Paras Griffin / Getty Images)

Her show was known for its “Hot Topics” segment at the top of the episode, when Williams would dish on the latest celebrity gossip.

Some episodes also included a “Hot Talk Panel,” in which Williams and four journalists would discuss news and tabloid headlines, as well as an “Ask Wendy” segment, in which Williams would give advice to audience members (whom she called her “co-hosts”).

Many episodes also featured a celebrity guest. Some of her talk show’s earliest guests included Kim Kardashian, Mark Wahlberg, Vivica A. Fox and Suze Orman.

Williams, known for her no-filter hosting style, sparked controversy at times over the years with her comments on the show.

In 2020, she faced backlash when she said on her show that gay men should “stop wearing our skirts and our heels.”

Williams apologized for her comments in a subsequent post on Twitter, now X, which has since been deleted.

“I’ll start by saying, I apologize. I did not mean to offend my LGBTQ+ community on yesterday’s show,” her statement read in part, according to NBC News. “I’m very persnickety about how I do my show and one thing I can tell you right now, is that I never do the show in a place of malice.”

She also stirred up controversy with her past comments on celebrities including Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Ellen DeGeneres.

“The Wendy Williams Show” was nominated for 13 Daytime Emmys throughout its run, including best host, with one win in 2011 for outstanding hairstyling. The talk show was also nominated for four People’s Choice Awards.

When did 'The Wendy Williams Show' end?

“The Wendy Williams Show” aired its final episode on June 17, 2022.

Williams was not present during the final episode, and guest host Sherri Shepherd took the reins.

“There is nobody like Wendy Williams. From her days on the radio to ruling daytime talk for 13 seasons, Wendy earned her title as the ‘Queen of all Media,’” Shepherd said during the finale, according to Deadline.

“If you think about it, Wendy Williams changed daytime talk with her unique take, her one-of-a-kind celebrity interviews, the signature ‘Ask Wendy’ segments and of course, y’all, her famous ‘How you doin’?’ Absolutely,” she continued. “And I wanna say, Miss Wendy, you are an icon and you are loved by so many, so many.”

Williams did not mince words when she shared her opinion of her show’s finale.

“There was nothing I liked about the (the final episode of) ‘Wendy Williams Show,’” she told the New York Post in July 2022.

Asked in the same interview why she hadn’t appeared in the final episode, Williams said the show’s production company, Debmar-Mercury, “didn’t ask me to do that, so I didn’t.”

“I sat in my apartment and I watched it,” she added. “And (I was) like, ‘Eek!’”

The show's end was preceded by health concerns

The end of “The Wendy Williams Show” came after years of health challenges for the host.

Concerns about Williams’ health made headlines in 2017 after she fainted on-air during her show’s Halloween episode. Sporting a Statue of Liberty costume, she was in the middle of an announcement when she paused, stumbled her words, then collapsed to the ground before the show cut to commercial.

Later, Williams said she had become overheated in her heavy costume and was low on electrolytes.

“It was scary,” she said the next day on her show as she addressed her collapse. “It was really scary. It was so scary, all I could think of in the middle of the scare was, ‘Don’t pull the podium over on you, because that’ll make it worse.’”

In 2018, Williams announced she was taking three weeks off from her show following her diagnosis with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition that causes overproduction of thyroid hormones. Symptoms of Graves’ disease can include anxiety, tremors, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, weight loss, bulging eyes and fatigue, among other symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Williams also took periods of time away from her show due to complications from Graves’ disease in 2019 and 2020.

She also took some time off the show in early 2018 after she fractured her shoulder, according to Variety.

The host has also been open over the years about her experiences with drug use, and she revealed during a 2019 episode of her show that she was living in a sober house.

“I am driven by my 24-hour sober coach back to a home that I live in here in the Tri-state (area) with a bunch of smelly boys who’ve become my family,” she told audience members on her show. “Doors locked by 10 p.m., lights out by 10 p.m., so I go to my room and I stare at the ceiling, and I fall asleep to wake up to come back here to see you. So that is my truth.”

During her two-month hiatus in early 2019, a series of guest hosts filled in for Williams, including Nick Cannon, Keke Palmer, Michael Rapaport and Sherri Shepherd.

Williams also stepped back from her show in fall 2021 due to ongoing health issues, according to Variety. Several guest hosts, including Leah Remini, Sherri Shepherd, Jerry Springer and Vivica Fox once again filled in for Williams during her months-long absence.

In February 2022, it was announced that Wendy Williams would not be able to return to finish out the show’s 13th season, which ended up being the show’s last.

After “The Wendy Williams Show” ended in July 2022, the show’s official YouTube account and social media accounts were deleted, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Today, 'The Wendy Williams Show' has a new name

“Sherri,” a syndicated daytime talk show featuring comedian and former “The View” host Sherri Shepherd, took over the time slot of “The Wendy Williams Show” in September 2022.

As she prepared to launch her own show, Shepherd honored Williams’ achievements.

“Please, let’s put Wendy up there with the greats — with Oprah and Rosie and Sally Jesse Raphael,” Shepherd told Variety in September 2022. “Wendy has now taken a spot up there with women who have carved their own lane, so we cannot forget that.”

Shepherd also shared that while her new show would include a version of the “Hot Topics” segment created by Williams, she had a different approach to celebrity gossip.

“What I want to do is make it fun and friendly because I never want anybody to feel worse because they watched me talk about them, because I’ve been on the receiving end of that,” Shepherd said. “I’m always coming from a place of love and joy and fun. That’s my motto for life. So, you won’t see me doing anything where the person’s feelings are going to be hurt and they’re going be upset.”

“Sherri” has been renewed for the 2024-2025 season, according to Variety.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com