When you hear Montel Williams’ name, you may think about The Montel Williams Show, which ran for an impressive 18 seasons between 1991 and 2008. Indeed, the star made his name on the “long-running daytime talk series,” which TV Guide notes focused on “more serious and thought-provoking” topics than other shows of its kind, such as “issues affecting families and children, as well as on social ills.” That difference paid off and the show (and its star) ended up earning plenty of industry honors, including a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host in 1996.
It’s been years since Williams’ show was pumping out new episodes, but that doesn’t mean that he’s stopped working or stepped out of the spotlight. In fact, it turns out that he’s still pretty darn busy these days. If that surprises you, then you’ve likely missed out on all of the interesting, exciting, and even unexpected aspects of his life these days. And we’re talking about much more than popping up on your TV screen. He’s tackled issues that are both incredibly personal and reach beyond his own circumstances, while also taking on undeniably intriguing (and often eye-opening) endeavors.
Intrigued? Be sure to read on to delve inside Montel Williams’ life these days.
Montel Williams' family drama was made public
Montel Williams has been married three times and has four children. He shares two daughters, Ashley Williams and Maressa Williams, with Rochele See, who he was married to from 1982 to 1989. He shares his two other children, son Montel Brian Hank Williams and daughter Wyntergrace Williams, with Grace Morley who was his spouse from 1992 until 2000. In 2007, he married Tara Fowler, who formerly worked as a flight attendant.
Sadly, in 2010, Montel Jr. and Wyntergrace, who were teenagers at the time, told the Daily News that although he was “paying $18,700 a month in child support,” things weren’t great between them. “My dad is now like a stranger,” the star’s daughter admitted. “Everyone knows him as a great guy, but he’s not making the best choices as a parent.” His son added, “I eat every night. I’m comfortable, but I can’t say I have him as a father. There’s all this fighting over things that shouldn’t be a fight, like paying for my PSAT.” Montel Jr. said his dad was not a part of his life then, stating, “It’s his choice.”
Their dad also released a statement regarding their relationship. “I love my children very much,” he said. “I do not believe parenting is best done in a public forum and I will not comment on ongoing legal action involving my minor children.” In a 2019 interview with The Athletic, Montel Jr. revealed that their “relationship is on the mend.”
Montel Williams' past romance with Kamala Harris
One of Montel Williams’ former romances hit the news in 2020 around the time of the presidential election when plenty of people found out that he had dated Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Us Weekly explained that “a picture circulated via Twitter of Williams … and Harris … with his daughter Ashley at the Race to Erase Multiple Sclerosis gala in Los Angeles in May 2001.” Apparently, when Williams and Harris were romantically involved, she “was working at the Office of the City Attorney of San Francisco.”
The tweeted photos sparked a fair share of reactions. “I was planning on having thoughts today but having just learned Kamala Harris dated Montel Williams, that’s pretty much all I’ll be thinking about for the next 5 hours or so,” one Twitter user admitted.
While some were just finding out about Williams and Harris’ past together, he had already addressed the situation when it buzzed in 2019. “@KamalaHarris and I briefly dated about 20 years ago when we were both single. So what?” he tweeted. “I have great respect for Sen. Harris. I have to wonder if the same stories about her dating history would have been written if she were a male candidate?” He also called it “old news.” Even so, it looks like it was new old news to many.
An MS diagnosis changed Montel Williams' life
“A little over 20 years ago, Montel Williams learned once and for all that he had multiple sclerosis (MS),” Multiple Sclerosis News Today noted in 2020. Williams told the outlet that he was diagnosed with MS before he knew what it was. A doctor told the talk show host’s wife at the time that he “looks like he has MS” at an appointment. “That was on a Friday,” Williams recalled. “On Saturday, he said to me, ‘you have MS.'” The star added that the medical professional “handed [him] some literature and said, ‘We don’t usually see this in an African-American male, and it’s the category that does the worst. I expect you to be in a wheelchair in the next four years.'”
The diagnosis devastated Williams, but he went on to battle the obstacles the disease has thrown at him. “I had a choice to make: I could either spend the rest of my life feeling sorry for myself or I could view my illness as a call to action,” he said, per Everyday Health.
In the years since, Williams has “spent much of his adult life coping with multiple sclerosis and trying various medical options,” according to CTV News. That includes “an experimental — and controversial — treatment” called liberation therapy. While talking about the procedure, “which involved a balloon angioplasty to open three narrowed veins in his neck and chest,” he explained, “The only way I can figure out whether or not this works is if I do it myself.”
Montel Williams survived a 'potentially deadly' stroke
In 2018, Montel Williams suffered what Good Morning America described as being “a rare, potentially deadly stroke.” Williams explained to GMA, “I was in the gym, pushing one of those workouts. I heard this pop and I realized, ‘I’m the only person in this gym, so how is there a pop?'”
Fortunately, Williams had recently learned about the symptoms of a stroke while watching Dr. Oz. When he realized what was going on, he managed to get to his wife, Tara Fowler. However, that wasn’t easy, because while he had been on the second floor of the building, Fowler was on the 14th floor.
When Williams was finally able to reach his wife, he said, “Call an ambulance right now and tell them your husband just had a stroke!” When paramedics arrived, they immediately did a CAT scan on the star and a doctor talked to him on a video screen. It turned out that “Williams suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, a less common type that happens when a blood vessel breaks and bleeds into the brain.” Apparently, if he hadn’t gotten the right kind of help right away, “he could have been treated for the more common ischemic stroke,” meaning he would have been mistakenly treated with blood thinners, which could have killed him. He revealed that if he hadn’t been able to reach his wife and get proper care, “I would be dead today.”
In the weeds with Montel Williams' cannabis company
Montel Williams has been searching for “the safest, most effective form of medicinal cannabis for treating his disease and others” ever since he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to Forbes. His goal was to “bring that product to the masses,” and after spending 17 years doing “nonstop research and advocacy,” he launched a “medical-grade line of cannabis oils and products.”
Williams talked to Forbes about what he’s doing with his company, called Lenitiv Labs, saying that their aim is to provide safe and clean choices. “With specialty beers, sure — include all the novelty junk you want,” he said. However, he added that “if you call it medicine, and give it to anyone with a serious disease such as MS, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, and on and on, you must believe that they’re walking in that door trusting that it will work, and not do them harm.”
While the star is obviously aiming to help others with the products that his cannabis company offers, he found himself in a surely unexpected situation after the aforementioned Forbes article shared what he was up to. After the piece was published, Forbes reported it was then republished elsewhere with altered information that promoted CBD products from a different company. Williams was then forced to “[take] back his stolen CBD brand,” according to Leafly. While “the fraudster got caught” in the end, the “resolution came at a price,” as it “cost Montel Williams hundreds of thousands of dollars and two years of time, energy, and frustration.”
A military makeover show hosted by Montel Williams
Before Montel Williams became a celebrity, he had a very different kind of career. After graduating high school in the ’70s, he enlisted in the U.S. Marines. During basic training, “his superiors became impressed with his leadership skills,” per Military.com, and he was sent to the Naval Academy Preparatory school. While switching from the Marines to the Navy, he not only studied Mandarin Chinese but he also “graduated with a degree in general engineering and a minor in International Security Affairs.” With that impressive training behind him, he went on to work “as a cryptologic officer for naval intelligence” among other roles and ranks. In fact, Military.com points out that “[i]t was while counseling his crew that he discovered a gift for public speaking” which led to him eventually becoming a talk show host.
Nowadays, Williams continues to support military veterans which is why, as Business Insider noted, he was given The Department of the Navy Superior Public Service Award in 2008, which he can display beside his Navy Achievement Medal, his Meritorious Service Medal, and his Navy Commendation Medal.
Williams is also the famous face behind Military Makeover, which has a familiar TV show formula but features a military-focused twist. Air Force Magazine explains that the production aims to “search for a deserving service member or veteran to receive a home renovation and appear on the show in 2021.” It’s clear that Williams’ military days are still close to his heart.
Montel Williams has a steady acting career
Montel Williams may primarily be known as a TV host thanks to The Montel Williams Show, but he’s also dabbled in acting. He’s had a number gigs over the years, popping up on popular series like Touched by an Angel, JAG, My Name Is Earl, and Guiding Light, often playing someone from the military which obviously draws on his own past and experiences while serving.
More recently, Williams appeared as a character called Dream World Montel in 2019’s Cool Cat’s Crazy Dream, a video short that focuses on “the coolest cat in the world” who “tells his friends, the audience, a crazy dream, how he was invited to a celebrity party and meets many celebrities.” He also played himself on the drama series The Resident, in the episode “Flesh of My Flesh,” that same year.
Beyond that, Williams is willing to take his performing talents to the stage. If you’re into off-Broadway plays, then you might have seen him in The Exonerated in the early ’00s. The story was based on “interviews of forty former death row inmates,” according to Playbill, and “explores the variety of experiences and feelings of those who spent from 2 to 22 years imprisoned only to later be found innocent and released.” According to The New York Times, Williams was part of the show’s cast that went “to Houston to perform for 900 lawyers” in 2003.
Unscripted content and Montel Williams go hand in hand
Montel Williams has stayed busy producing documentaries. He was behind 2017’s Architects of Denial, which “not only digs into the persecution of Armenians and other Christians in the Middle East, both past and present, but it also sheds light on those politicians who refuse to acknowledge an event scholars accept as a sad reality and historical fact.”
Hate Among Us, which came out in 2019, “examines the rise of anti-Semitic hate crimes across the world,” and 2020’s Sky Blossom “is a raw, uplifting window into 24.5 million children and millennials stepping forward as frontline heroes.” According to the film’s IMDb page, it shines a light on the young people spending their days “caring for family with tough medical conditions, … doing things often seen only in hospitals. They are cheerleaders, work part time, and go to college — but also live double lives — quietly growing up as America’s next greatest generation.”
Williams was also involved with The Real Skinny on Fat, which explores how the Keto diet can improve health. In particular, the star believes it has helped him when it comes to multiple sclerosis. He chatted with Dr. Oz about the docu-series in 2019, saying that he thinks this specific diet works because it offers “protection,” more specifically, “neuroprotection.” Suffice to say, Williams didn’t leave the unscripted realm when his long-running talk show ended.
Getting political with Montel Williams
While some celebrities refuse to speak out about their political beliefs out of the fear that they might alienate fans, there are other stars, like Montel Williams, who are perfectly willing to make their beliefs known. That’s why he didn’t hesitate to tell The Hill back in 2009, “I happen to be a registered Independent. I was a Republican all my life. I left the Republican Party.”
Nowadays, Williams is a vocal supporter of LGBTQ causes, and as CNN reported, has attended events like a brunch for “a conservative nonprofit organization that does advocacy for LGBT Americans” called The American Unity Fund. “There are a few misguided lawmakers who have lost sight of the fact that anything short of full freedom for our LGBT neighbors, friends, and co-workers is a threat to the freedom of all of us,” Williams said in a statement at the time. “Like Vice President Dick Cheney stated, ‘Freedom means freedom for everyone.'”
Williams also backed former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a decision he wrote about in an essay for USA Today. He has also spoken out against Donald Trump during his presidency. “This is the first commander in chief that I believe doesn’t recognize what his role is and doesn’t understand that [people in the military are] not pawns on a chessboard; he’s responsible for their lives,” he told Variety. He added, “The thing that bothers me the most about it is that … 85% of this country is still so narcissistic, they don’t care, and they won’t care until it’s too late.”
Montel Williams has millions to his name
Montel Williams has spent decades in the entertainment industry and can surely consider himself to be a successful person thanks to his various endeavors and accomplishments. However, while other famous names who have dominated the talk show game are worth seriously staggering amounts of money — like Maury Povich ($80 million), Ellen DeGeneres ($500 million), and Oprah Winfrey ($3.5 billion) — it turns out that Williams may not be as rich as you might think.
These days, Williams has a relatively modest fortune that sits at $10 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, which is obviously more than the average person has, but maybe not what he could have banked had his show still been on the air. Granted, he also makes money in other ways. He talked to Success about his motivation when it comes to juggling his many professional projects, admitting, “I hate to say it like this, but I’m like a crack addict with [my companies].” While he seemed to acknowledge the inappropriate association, he explained further by adding, “I’m an information junkie.”
The star also talked about wanting to help others succeed. “The Living Well method is about paying attention to the impediments in your life. If you can meet your own needs and contribute to society, that’s what Living Well is,” he explained. “I want to give everyone the tools to succeed personally, financially, and physically.” Hey, it seems to work for him!
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