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After more than a decade of accolades and controversy, 'The Wendy Williams Show' ends

The Wendy Williams Show will air its final episode this Friday after nearly 14 years filled with hundreds of notable guests, accolades and numerous controversies.

According to Variety, which first broke the news of the show's series finale, the daytime talk show host will not be present for the final episode. The series finale will include a video montage celebrating Williams' TV run.

"The final original episode of The Wendy Williams Show will air on Friday, June 17th with a video tribute to the iconic host. The series comes to an end after 13 successful years in syndication," a spokesperson for the show told Variety.

The 57-year-old TV host, who has been the show's original host since its premiere in 2009, has not been on the air in her famous purple chair since 2020 following a series of health issues. Williams has Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder affecting the thyroid.

Since her two-year absence from the show, a number of guest hosts have filled in, including Leah Remini, Fat Joe and Remy Ma. Most recently, the show has been hosted by former co-host of The View, Sherri Shepherd, who will host the show's series finale.

Representatives for Williams did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment regarding the show's finale.

In February, executives announced that this fall, The Wendy Williams Show will be replaced with a new show hosted by Shepherd, titled "Sherri." The new show will move into the time slots previously held by Williams, producer and distributor Debmar-Mercury told The Associated Press.

"Since Wendy is still not available to host the show as she continues on her road to recovery, we believe it is best for our fans, stations and advertising partners to start making this transition now," company co-presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein said in a statement.

Inside Williams' rise from radio to TV

While Williams' fame catapulted during her daytime talk show, she got her start ruffling the airwaves on the radio.

Her fearlessness in speaking about anyone and everything dates back to her time sitting behind the microphone.

Williams' show, The Wendy Williams Experience, was the pinnacle of her 23-year career in radio. The show was syndicated nationally on WBLS in New York City and was listened to by an audience of more than 12 million people, according to the Wendy Show's website.

After earning a degree from Northeastern University in communications, Williams landed her first job working at a small station in the Virgin Islands. During that time, she saved her money and honed in on her craft, despite feeling isolated.

"That first initial decision to abandon everything that I know and to go some place where I knew nobody and hate it, cry every day, work my job and feel like a real outsider and very broke. ... I said it was glamorous and wonderful, and really it was torturous," Williams told NPR in 2007.

That initial push did pay off, launching a career that has taken her to Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia.

Over the years, Williams' mouth has landed her in some hot water — one notable clash was between her and Whitney Houston. In 2007, she spoke with NPR about how she is able to push her guests.

"The best way to explain it is it's very simple: I create a life and outside interests so that I'm not dependent on invitations for Fourth of July to the Whitney Houston barbecue off the coast of Long Island," Williams told NPR then. "Instead, you know, I would be doing things with my own inner circle, which don't involve anybody that anybody knows."

Her off-the-cuff dialogue is what landed her a daytime talk show. Picked up in 2008, The Wendy Williams Show had been nominated for multiple daytime Emmy awards and is watched by millions daily, according to the show's website. At its height, her show was a direct competitor with Ellen, another daytime talk show that has recently closed its curtains for the final time.

Williams' show aired daily, occupying a one-hour timeslot. Broadcast live in front of a studio audience, each episode began with the iconic "Hot Topics" segment featuring Williams entering the stage, holding a mug, and gossiping. Williams was always very engaged with her audience, hosting segments like "Ask Wendy" and referring to the audience members as her cohosts.

The show was known for its hot topics and controversy

Despite the former radio and TV host's success on the air over the past 14 years — nominated for 11 Daytime Emmys and four People's Choice Awards — Williams has come under fire several times for her controversial interviews and celebrity hot takes.

In recent years, Williams made several controversial comments about former actress and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, Grammy award-winning singer Dionne Warwick, rapper Lil' Kim and television personality NeNe Leakes.

In a 2019 profile with New York Times Magazine, the talk show host discussed her controversial interviews, saying: "I am often accused of being the person who says things that people really want to say but maybe are too scared to say it."

"Through the grace of God, people have given me permission to say those things for 10 seasons. I get in trouble sometimes, but it's all good. Actually, I can't even think of what kind of trouble," Williams added.

Williams has left a lasting legacy

Williams' show had a very important impact on pop culture. Everyday memes of her show are used in communication online. The end of Wendy without the return of its host has left fans upset.

On Instagram, multiple Wendy Williams fan accounts have organized a blackout, discouraging people from viewing the finale in protest of her absence.

Many fans have also created tributes online, remembering some of their favorite moments from the show including @_Xorah_ on Twitter.

How Williams herself feels about the end of her show is unknown. Williams has been going through personal issues with control over her finances.

After inquiring about her finances and attempting to switch banks, Wells Fargo filed a petition to place Williams under financial guardianship in March, her lawyer told The Hollywood Reporter.

Williams has been fighting the guardianship and took to her personal Instagram account in March to speak out. Fans have compared Williams' situation to that of Britney Spears, who recently got out of a 13-year conservatorship.

What is next for Williams remains unknown.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Amina Kilpatrick
Amina Kilpatrick is an assistant engagement editor for the Newshub team distributing stories to Facebook, Twitter, third-party platforms and more.
Jonathan Franklin
Jonathan Franklin is a reporter on the Newsdesk covering both race & identity and breaking news.