April 19, 2024
The "Die Hard" actor was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia in 2023, with his family calling it a "cruel disease.'

Wendy Williams has been dealing with more difficult news about her mental and physical health, with representatives for the talk-show host announcing Thursday that she has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia as well as aphasia.

Doctors in fact concluded that her recent struggles were due to frontotemporal dementia, a group of neurodegenerative disorders that can affect behavior, personality, language and movement, her representatives said in a statement, Page Six reported. FTD occurs when nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are lost, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 04: Bruce Willis attends the 17th Annual A Great Night In Harlem at The Apollo Theater on April 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images) Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Actor Bruce Willis also was diagnosed with FTD in 2023, with his family calling it a “cruel disease” that has no cure. They also said that it is the most common form of dementia for people under 60.

Williams, 59, was diagnosed after she underwent a battery of tests in 2023 when her memory started to fail and she began to “lose words” and “act erratically,” the statement said Thursday.

Her representatives said they are releasing news of her diagnosis because the former “Wendy Williams Show” host “has been open with the public about her medical struggles with Graves’ Disease and Lymphedema as well as other significant challenges related to her health.”

“The decision to share this news was difficult and made after careful consideration, not only to advocate for understanding and compassion for Wendy, but to raise awareness about aphasia and frontotemporal dementia and support the thousands of others facing similar circumstances,” the statement continued.

Williams’ representatives also said something that echoes what Bruce Willis’ family said in 2023: That receiving the diagnosis was “painful,” but the news also provided “clarity.” For Williams, the diagnosis allows her to “receive the medical care she requires.”

The statement also assured Williams’ fans that the former shock jock is “still able to do many things for herself” and has maintained her “trademark sense of humor.”

Wendy Williams (L) and Elvis Duran speak during The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show at Z100 Studio on September 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images) 

Williams is living in an undisclosed treatment center, with news of her diagnosis coming ahead of this weekend’s release of Lifetime’s  documentary “Where Is Wendy Williams?” The two-part documentary, which was executive produced by Williams, addresses the media personality’s declining health and alcoholism, all of which contributed to her being placed under a court-ordered guardianship in 2022, Page Six said.

“The Wendy Williams Show” aired for 12 years before it was canceled in 2022 due to Williams’ health issues, which included one instance when she fainted live on air in 2017, the Hollywood Reporter said.

When the documentary crew began filming in August 2022, it set out to follow Williams’ comeback as she prepared to launch a new podcast, People reported. 

The film quickly evolved into something entirely different, People explained, as the crew captured Williams in the throes of alcohol addiction and struggles with health issues including Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder that can cause bulging eyes, and lymphedema, a condition that causes swelling in the feet.

According to People, a particularly gut-wrenching scene shows Williams asking her driver to take her past the former “Wendy Williams Show” studio, forgetting that he had done so only moments earlier.

“I don’t know what the hell is going on,” her driver says in the documentary, according to People. “I think she’s losing memory. She doesn’t know who I am sometimes.”

The documentary crew stopped filming Williams in April 2023, People said. That month, she entered a facility to treat “cognitive issues,” her manager and jeweler Will Selby said in the film.

Ongoing reports about Williams’ health struggles have been mired in accompanying allegations, coming from her family and from Williams’ herself, about her finances and who has control of her affairs. Williams remains in the facility, and her family has complained that her court-appointed guardian is the only person who has unfettered access to her, People reported.

Her family told People that they don’t know where she is and cannot call her themselves, but she can call them.

“The people who love her cannot see her,” Wendy’s sister, Wanda, told People. “I think the big (question) is: How the hell did we get here?”