Since her early days as a radio host, Wendy Williams has never shied away from drama—or from pressing her celebrity guests to do the same. She may be a New York City institution with a long-running TV show, but she’s seen her fair share of struggle, heartbreak, and pain—not to mention that she seems to be a magnet for controversy. Park yourself in the hot seat for these 50 wild facts about the self-proclaimed “Queen of All Media,” Wendy Williams.
Wendy Williams Facts
1. Who? What? When? Where? Why?
As a tall Black woman at a mostly white upper-middle class high school, Williams was something of an outcast—but she was no shrinking daisy. Williams herself said that she was already so inquisitive and loud at that point, “that it was embarrassing to my family.” Sounds like a good blueprint for a future celebrity interviewer.
2. Can’t Win ‘Em All
She’s the self-proclaimed Queen of All Media, but sometimes you can’t be a master of every domain. It was long Williams’ dream to try out stand up comedy, and she first got the chance in 2014 when she was booked at the Venetian in Las Vegas. She went on to book a comedy tour in 2019, but the first date was canceled just 24 hours before, and it was rumored that it was due to poor ticket sales.
Soon after, some of the other dates were canceled or postponed as well, leading to more speculation. In the end, all of the tour dates were eventually canceled.
3. Started From the Bottom
After graduating from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, Williams got her first gig in radio—but it wasn’t quite as glamorous as one would expect of her. She moved to St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands to host a show playing hip-hop and R&B—where she made a whopping $3.25 an hour.
4. Hard Times
Wendy Williams is an open book and over the years, she’s been candid about her personal demons. The radio host revealed that in the 1990s, she was addicted to illicit substances. Sadly, that story wouldn’t end by the millennium.
5. Working for the Weekend
Williams lasted less than a year in St. Croix, and while her next gig(s) paid better, they came with a gruelling caveat. She hosted an afternoon show in Washington, DC, and would commute all the way back to Queens, New York to host an overnight shift on the weekends.
6. Asking the Hard Questions
One of Williams’ most notorious interviews was with Whitney Houston in 2003, at a time when the singer was suffering from intense personal issues and an onslaught of public scrutiny. Houston had called into Williams’ radio show to promote her new album, but instead found herself the subject of a barrage of deeply personal questions.
Williams began by asking her if she was using substances at the time, which Houston objected to—but it got worse from there.
7. Hooks and Jabs
Williams then tried to relate to Houston by sharing that she herself had struggled with addiction, to which the singer replied “Well, that’s your problem, that’s not my problem. Move on.” Williams then told Houston that she was being very defensive, and Houston’s response was devastating. She said “I have to be, Wendy, you talk about me every [bleeping] day.”
As any listener of Williams’ show at the time could attest, she wasn’t wrong!
8. Catch Me Outside
Williams also asked Houston what she told her daughter Bobbi Kristina about her father’s jail time. Houston responded with a string of expletives. Williams also asked Houston about her sex life with Bobby Brown, before Houston said “Wendy, don’t make me meet you outside.” The controversial interview got media coverage from outlets worldwide, taking Williams from local NYC personality to international recognition.
Between 1989 and 1994, Williams made quite the name for herself in New York City radio at WRKS. Within just a few years of getting her own show, she won the 1993 Billboard Award for “Best On-Air Radio Personality.”
10. Black and White
Williams is known for being incredibly decisive and being very good at planning her next steps—which, while great for a career, doesn’t always work so well when it comes to a personal life. Williams married her first husband in 1994, and when she decided to leave him five months later, it showed the dark side of her decisive nature.
11. Way Harsh, Wendy
A New York magazine profile of Williams described the day she left her first husband: “After he left for work, she divided up their possessions and hired two moving vans and a locksmith. He’d figure it out.” Their divorce was finalized a year later.
12. Cold-Hearted 97
In the near-decade that Wendy Williams worked at Hot 97, she took the station from dead last to must-listen, but in 1998, they dealt her a heartbreaking blow. She was unceremoniously fired. Soon, rumors began to fly around that it was because she’d been in a fistfight with another female DJ at the station—rumors that Williams denied.
13. Bad Boys Club
At the time, Sean Combs, at that point known as Puff Daddy, was at the top of the charts—whether it was his own music or artists from his record label, Bad Boy. He was an incredibly powerful force in the music industry, and Williams suspects that he was the driving force behind her getting fired—all for a disturbing reason.
14. Titan Vs. Titan
Why did Combs dislike Williams so much? People think the feud goes back to two of Williams’ trademark digs. She suggested that Combs wasn’t straight and she posted an unflattering photo of him on her website. Pretty petty, if you ask me!
15. Casting the First Stone
Puff Daddy wasn’t the first person to try to get Wendy Williams fired on account of her pot-stirring antics. Williams claims that Bill Cosby tried to get her fired in 1991 and 1992. While she won’t 100% confirm why, she has alluded that it was because she believed the allegations against him, even all those years ago…
16. Guilty Until Proven…Also Guilty
In 2017, Williams reiterated that she believes Bill Cosby’s victims, telling Howard Stern that her only opinion on the matter is “guilty.”
17. A Little Help
Williams has always been open about her penchant for enhancing her appearance with surgical procedures. She first got breast implants in 1994, and has had a tummy tuck and liposuction as well.
18. Hot Spot
Towards the end of 1994, Williams was shifted to Hot 97, part of an effort to bring the once-beloved radio station back to its former glory. The station changed formats to highlight the growing popularity of hip-hop, especially East Coast artists, and added young, savvy DJs like Williams and the now-legendary Angie Martinez.
The gamble paid off, and by 1995, Hot 97 was once again the top station in New York City—and it remains an institution for lovers of hip-hop to this day.
19. Match Made in Heaven
In 1997, Williams married her second husband, Kevin Hunter. At that point, his career wasn’t quite on the same level as hers—he’d owned a hair salon and worked as a party promoter. But they had one important thing in common: ambition. Soon enough, Hunter joined Williams’ business and became the shock jockette’s manager.
20. Go (South)West
After getting fired from Hot 97, no one in New York City radio would touch Wendy Williams with a ten-foot pole. She took a part-time job at a radio station in Philadelphia, but she was just as notorious there as she’d been in NYC. Callers were frequently critical, but Williams was a pro. When one caller phoned in to say she “looked like a dude”, Williams quipped, “But you’re listening.”
21. These Are My Confessions
Williams is infamous for her confrontational style with celebrity guests, but in Philadelphia, she showed an ever more startling side of her on-air persona: her ultra-confessional style. In Williams’ time at Power 99, she talked about her marriage to Hunter, her plastic surgeries, her history of substance abuse, and her struggles with fertility.
22. Silver Lining
While working at Power 99, Williams made a heartbreaking confession to her listeners, telling them that she’d suffered two miscarriages since her marriage to Hunter—but finally, in 2000, she was able to share some good news with them. That was the year her soon Kevin Hunter Jr. was born.
23. Everyone Knows It’s Wendy
Williams’ candid style ended up making her and by extension, Power 99, a huge hit in Philadelphia. When she began at the station, it was ranked #14 for listeners in the coveted 18-to-34 demographic. By the year 2000, she’d brought them up to #2—but her success would inspire another seismic life shift.
24. Don’t Call It a Comeback
Williams had been run out of New York City, but her success in Philadelphia gave her the leverage she needed to come back to the place where she made her name: the city that never sleeps. In 2001, Williams and Hunter returned to the Big Apple so that she could work for WBLS. It was at that station where her infamous interview with Whitney Houston would eventually take place.
25. Try and Stop Me
Williams’ show on WBLS was syndicated, meaning that the station could sell it to other markets. While Williams had already made a name for herself beyond New York, syndication meant that she became a fixture in people’s homes, offices, and cars in dozens of other cities.
26. You’re Gonna Make It After All
At first, Williams was given a six-week trial where her program, The Wendy Williams Show, would air in four different cities. It premiered on July 14, 2008, and after the successful trial run, Fox picked up the talk show.
27. Are You Experienced?
The Wendy Williams Show wasn’t the first time that Williams had appeared on TV. In 2006, she was the subject of the VH1 reality show The Wendy Williams Experience, which chronicled the day-to-day behind the scenes activity on her radio show. It lasted for eight episodes.
28. Not So Fast
In 2008, Williams should’ve been on top of the world. She was one of the most popular radio hosts in the world, and her TV show was about to debut—but then it all came crashing down. Nicole Spence, one of the talent bookers who worked on The Wendy Williams Experience in 2006, filed a complaint against Williams that later escalated into a lawsuit against Williams, her husband Kevin Hunter, and the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation.
Her accusations were incredibly disturbing.
29. Hostile Work Environment
Spence alleged that Hunter had demanded intimate relations with her on multiple occasions, and that the work environment was full of threats and abuse—but that wasn’t all. She also claimed that she and other employees had witnessed Hunter physically abuse Williams during production. Williams and Hunter denied the allegations, and the case was dismissed in October 2008.
31. The Top Spot
Ellen may seem like an inescapable cultural phenomenon, but there’s only one other host who regularly beats her in the ratings—Wendy Williams. Ellen and The Wendy Williams Show regularly alternate positions as the #1 female-hosted daytime TV show.
32. Bright Lights, Big City
She may talk about Hollywood for a living now, but Wendy Williams spent the majority of her life on the East Coast. The shock jock was born in a bland suburb of Asbury Park, New Jersey before moving to the nearby Ocean Township. She attended university in Boston, and has spent most of her life since then in New York City.
They say you’re not a New York City entertainment industry fixture until you’ve appeared on an episode of Law & Order: SVU (actually, it’s just me who says that). Either way, Williams cemented her place in NYC TV history when she appeared on an episode of SVU in 2013—playing herself, naturally. SVU is known for their “ripped from the headlines” storylines, and Williams’ episode was no exception.
The plot was about a young singer involved in an abusive relationship with an older hip-hop star—a not-so-thinly-veiled reference to the Chris Brown/Rihanna incident of 2009.
34. Empire State Empire
The Wendy Williams Show gave Williams a much wider platform—and a chance to expand her brand. Since 2008, Williams has created something of an empire. She started a production company with her husband, has appeared on Broadway in a production of Chicago, has a Home Shopping Network clothing line, and a line of jewelry that is sold on QVC.
35. Pay Up
In 2012, disturbing revelations came to light about Williams’ jewelry line, Adorn. Williams commissioned a Chinese company to make over 12,000 pairs of high heels for the Adorn logo. The Chinese company hired a shoe manufacturer, but then disappeared after the shoe manufacturer kidnapped one of their managers for two weeks.
According to rumors, the manufacturer held the manager because Williams hadn’t paid either the Chinese company or the manufacturer. Williams never commented on the situation, and there haven’t been any updates since 2013.
36. Jeepers Creepers, Where’d You Get Those Peepers
In 2018, Williams revealed that she suffers from two conditions that affect her thyroid gland: hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease. Williams said that Graves’ is responsible for the strange appearance of her eyes—eye bulging is one side effect of the disease.
37. Carrying a Torch
On a Halloween episode of The Wendy Williams Show in 2017, Williams shocked the audience when she collapsed onstage. Some thought it was staged, but the press later revealed that Williams had overheated thanks to her gigantic Statue of Liberty costume. She was able to continue the show after an extended commercial break.
38. Making Amends
Following the announcement of the Oscar nominations for 2020, Wendy Williams came under fire for her comments about Best Actor nominee Joaquin Phoenix’s cleft palate. After a huge backlash, Williams apologized and her show made donations to two charities: the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association and Operation Smile.
39. The Next Step
There’s a phrase out there: “he/she has a face for radio.” If there was ever one DJ from whom that was not true, it was the glamorous Williams. Between her looks, popularity, personality, and success, the next step was obvious: a talk show
40. She Means All!
Williams is the self-proclaimed Queen of All Media—so we have to mention the fact that she set her sights beyond TV and radio. She’s also a published author, with three non-fiction books and four novels.
41. Missing in Action
Williams never missed an episode of her show until February 2018, when she canceled three episodes. She later announced that she’d be taking a three-week break due to her health problems, and that guest hosts would take over for her in the meantime. Williams had always insisted that she’d never use a guest host, so having to step down, even temporarily, must have been devastating—but it was just the start of her problems.
42. It’s Complicated
One year later, in 2019, Williams once again had to step down from her beloved show—this time, indefinitely. A number of celebrity guest hosts filled in for her during the long hiatus. She cited a shoulder injury as well as complications from her Graves’ disease at the cause—but when she finally returned to the host’s chair, Williams revealed another disturbing reason behind her departure.
43. Where’d Wendy Go?
On the March 24, 2019 episode of The Wendy Williams Show, Williams shared that she’d spent the first two months of that year in a sober living facility due to her substance abuse issues. Before she shared that news, the only people who knew her whereabouts during that time were her husband and son.
44. Bad Timing
The torrent of dramatic news didn’t stop there. On April 11, 2019, Williams confirmed that she’d filed for divorce from her husband of nearly 22 years, Kevin Hunter—all for a devastating reason. Williams discovered that Hunter fathered a secret child with a woman named Sharina Hudson—but that was far from the least shocking revelation.
45. Hell Hath No Fury
Upon learning that Hunter’s romance with Hudson had actually been a long-term affair, Williams wasted no time. She told him to move out, served him divorce papers, and fired him as her manager—but she didn’t stop there. When she found out that Hunter bought Hudson a $215,000 Ferrari, Williams had the car repossessed. Don’t mess with Wendy!
Later that year, when Williams appeared on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, Cohen quizzed the shock jock about Hunter and Hudson’s relationship. While Williams smirked at the mention of getting the Ferrari towed, she didn’t share much—but she did say “I don’t know these people, I don’t know the baby, I don’t know the woman, I mean, I don’t know who Kevin became, I don’t know who I am!”
She also said that if she were ever to get married again, she’d definitely get a prenup.
47. A Family Affair
Wendy wasn’t the only one angry at Hunter for his betrayal. On May 21, 2019, the police arrested Williams’ son Kevin Hunter Jr. for domestic violence after punching his father in the face outside of a grocery store. He pled not guilty, and the court dismissed the case. Both Williams and Hunter Sr. showed their support for their son following his arrest, and even once showed up to court together.
48. Family of Three
Following her separation from Hunter, Williams adopted two rescue kitten who had been born to a feral cat and named them, fittingly, Chit Chat and My Way. She lives alone with the two cats in Manhattan.
One of the most bizarre rumors that spread about Williams in early 2019—a time when she dealt with a shoulder injury, Graves’ disease, addiction, being forced to a take a hiatus from her show, and her husband’s infidelity (as if that wasn’t enough)—was that her soon-to-be ex-husband Kevin Hunter was poisoning her.
The police received a call from someone claiming to work on The Wendy Williams Show. They alleged that Hunter was dosing Williams. The police did a wellness check on Williams, but noted that Hunter did not want to let her speak to the cops alone. She denied the claim at the time, and nothing ever came of it—but it sure was the cherry on top of a tumultuous year for Williams.
50. Battle of the Divas
In a famous interview, Williams grilled Mariah Carey about whether she had breast implants. After insisting she didn’t, Carey left the interview. Soon after, Williams received a shady piece of mail. Carey sent her an entire box of push-up bras.